If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse, our Los Angeles detox facility is the first step to getting your life back. Whether you are addicted to alcohol, pain pills, benzodiazepines, or opioids, you will have to overcome your physical dependence on the addictive substance before moving on to further treatment. Detox is the process of controlling your withdrawal symptoms and breaking your physical addiction so you can begin to heal and recover.

At Nova Vitae Treatment Center, our team takes every measure to assist your detox process. Our facility is located in Woodland Hills, on the west side of the San Fernando Valley just off the 101. We offer medical detox or social model detox in an environment that feels just like home.

What is Detoxification?

The first step of addiction treatment is removing the physical dependency on the addictive substance. Your body adjusts to the chemicals in your system and becomes dependent on them.

When you abstain from the addictive substance, withdrawal symptoms begin. Headaches often come first, followed by more severe symptoms. During detox, these symptoms are managed as much as possible. It is important to think of detox as the first step of addiction treatment, not the entire process.

Who Needs Drug and Alcohol Detoxification?

Not everyone needs full medical support while quitting alcohol or drugs. If you already abstain from the substance for long periods of time, your addiction is recent, or the substance does not have strong withdrawal symptoms, you may be able to skip detox.

However, many people do need help during this crucial and painful phase. We recommend you get a medical evaluation to determine whether you need support during withdrawal.

What Types of Detox are Available?

There are many detox options available, depending on the addictive substance. The most common options are non-medical or social, medically assisted, and ultra-rapid. These options proceed in three stages: evaluating the level of dependence, stabilizing the patient, and preparing the patient for rehabilitation treatment

Social Detoxification

Social detox programs typically involve abstaining from drug use entirely while under the care of medical professionals. Patients reside in a private group or home facility while medical professionals monitor their health and help manage withdrawal symptoms. With medical, psychological, and emotional support available, patients can withdraw at their own pace. This process can be painful and difficult, but it is necessary to retrain the body to function without the addictive substance.

Medical Detox

Under a medical detox program, patients take medication to manage their withdrawal symptoms. This is especially important for certain types of drugs like benzodiazepines and barbiturates, which can cause seizures when quit cold turkey. Medications like methadone and buprenorphine can be lifesavers, especially for patients suffering from opioid addiction.

Ultra-Rapid Detox

Patients using this treatment method are placed under anesthesia and given medications such as naltrexone to initiate rapid withdrawal. Under medical supervision, the patient experiences withdrawal symptoms at an accelerated, dangerous pace. This method is highly controversial and unavailable at many rehab centers. Studies suggest it has a higher relapse rate than longer, more thorough treatment options.

Which Substances Require Detox?

Almost any substance that creates chemical dependence leaves the user with withdrawal symptoms. Even hangovers are a mild example of withdrawal from alcohol. Detox is often useful even for patients who don’t need full addiction treatment, because it can help manage potentially dangerous symptoms in a safe, medically-controlled context.

Benzodiazepine Detox

Benzodiazepines or benzos are common drugs that are often abused. Both prescription and recreational users can become addicted. This drug class includes Xanax, Valium, Librium, Klonopin, and Ativan, all of which can lead to severe side effects including tremors, psychosis, delirium, seizures, mood swings, and hallucinations. Light users may be able benzos in a few days. Those with long-running prescriptions to a benzodiazepine, including Lorazepam and Xanax, may need several months of treatment to safely taper off their drug use.

Benzodiazepine addiction can be difficult to treat, with a long recovery process involving therapy and physical support. Symptoms include irritability, anxiety, sleep disturbances, panic attacks, tremors, difficulty concentrating, memory issues, nausea, vomiting or dry heaving, headache, weight loss, and increased blood pressure. Heavy users can experience hallucinations, psychosis, and even an increased risk of self-harm or suicide. Because many of these withdrawal symptoms are mental as well as physical, it is essential to have medical personnel on hand during detox.

Opiates and Prescription Pain Pills Detox

Prescription pain pills such as Vicodin, Hydrocodone, fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone, and codeine are primarily opioids or opioid-based. They are commonly abused by prescription holders and recreational users. The United States is in the midst of an opioid epidemic that has been declared as a public health emergency.

Because these drugs build up a physical dependence even when prescribed as painkillers, most of them have a withdrawal phase. Long-term users may require medical support to stop using them. Typically, treatment involves tapering off the patient’s drug use. It may include medication such as methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone to fight cravings and reduce symptoms.

Symptoms of opioid addiction can include lethargy, cravings, insomnia, sweating, paranoia, anxiety, nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramping, tremors, increased irritability or aggression, rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and difficulty concentrating.

Heroin Detox

Heroin or diamorphine is an opioid and commonly abused street drug. It produces euphoric highs and serves as a substitute or replacement for prescription pain pills. Heroin is not prescribed medically, and therefore, recreational users are most likely fully addicted and need comprehensive treatment. Heroin has the same withdrawal symptoms as prescription opioid painkillers.

Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within the first 6-12 hours after last use, peak after 1-3 days, and are generally gone after one week. However, for some users, withdrawal symptoms can last months and including Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome.

Alcohol Detox

If you’ve been drinking heavily for several months or more, you will need to go through alcohol detox. This process usually takes more than a week, with the worst symptoms occurring after the first 48 hours. These can include seizures with a risk of delirium tremens, which affects about 5% of patients. The duration and severity of alcohol withdrawal heavily depend on the volume of alcohol consumed and frequency of drinking over time. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include tremors, headache, nausea and vomiting, sweating, insomnia, and in serious cases, hallucinations and seizures.

If delirium tremens develops, symptoms include a racing heartbeat, confusion, and high blood pressure. If not treated properly, it can be fatal.

Stimulant Detox

Stimulants such as Ritalin, amphetamines, and cocaine are often abused. A “crash” phase often follows stimulant use, where the body is completely drained of energy. This can last anywhere from 96 hours to 6 or more weeks. It’s urgent that you seek medical treatment when withdrawing from amphetamines. Symptoms can be severe, including anxiety, aggression, depression, and mood swings.

Methamphetamine is one type of amphetamine. It affects the central nervous system through GABBA and dopamine receptors in the brain. Meth is one of the hardest drugs to detox from, since its withdrawal timeline can last for months after the final dose and include difficult phases of depression.

Cocaine Detox

Typically, cocaine has a much lower withdrawal profile than other drugs, with no visible symptoms such as tremors, fever, nausea, etc. It’s safer to withdraw from than other drugs because there is no risk of seizures. However, it’s still important to withdraw under the supervision of a medical professional and receive physical and psychological support, especially because a small percentage of users do experience heavy symptoms. Patients who combine cocaine with other drugs such as amphetamines, heroin, or procaine will experience much different and stronger withdrawal symptoms.

Marijuana Detox

While recreational marijuana use is legal in many states, it is still an addictive drug. Withdrawal symptoms can include headaches, insomnia, tremors, difficulty eating, and dizziness. Symptoms vary depending on the volume of cannabis abuse and length of the addiction.

What Can I Expect in Drug Detox?

The experience of drug detox varies depending on the specific drug, treatment methods, severity of symptoms, length of addiction, and any co-occurring mental disorders. For some patients, mental health issues such as anxiety and depression can surface during detox, issues that were covered up by the addiction and may have contributed to its cause.


Most treatment begins with a short intake process. The doctors or nurses at your facility will conduct an interview to identify the addictive substance and diagnose your symptoms so a treatment plan can be devised. In the process, these medical professionals work with you to establish a bond and make you feel more comfortable throughout detox.

Medical Supervision

Detox can be a dangerous process. To ensure that the patient stays healthy and withdraws from the addictive substance safely and consistently, most drug and alcohol treatment programs include medical supervision. This can range from prescribing medication to counseling and therapy to 24/7 monitoring in severe cases.

What are the Risks of Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal?

Any withdrawal involves risk. Most patients undergo painful and sometimes traumatic symptoms, ranging from the severity of a cold or flu to grand mal seizures. Therefore, most programs, including the one at Nova Vitae, include full medical supervision. Risks vary considerably depending on the addictive substance you are withdrawing from. Some of the most common are:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Cardiovascular stress
  • Dehydration
  • Insomnia or other sleep problems
  • Nausea and vomiting, which can lead to choking and death when unsupervised
  • Seizures and delirium tremens

What are the Symptoms of Drug and Alcohol Detox?

Symptoms vary based on the substance, quantity of abuse, and length of time spent addicted. However, most symptoms follow a similar pattern:

  • General malaise
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Insomnia or restless sleep
  • Depression
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Tremors, shaking, or seizures
  • Mood swings
  • Cold and flu symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heart palpitations or arrhythmia

These symptoms can range from moderate to very severe. If you are addicted to alcohol or benzodiazepines, side effects can last for weeks or even months.

How Long Does Detox Last?

Withdrawal times vary depending on which drugs you are taking and how heavily you’ve used them.

  • Benzodiazepines: Withdrawal begins within a few hours and improves within 4-5 days for most patients. For some drugs like Valium, symptoms may begin late and last for up to four weeks after the final dose.
  • Opioids / Prescription Pain Pills: Withdrawal typically begins within 6-12 hours and subsides within the first week.
  • Long-acting Opioids: Withdrawal begins within 2-4 days of the last dose and may last several weeks.
  • Heroin: Withdrawal usually begins within 4-12 hours and subsides within a week.
  • Alcohol: Symptoms can begin within two hours of your final drink and usually peak after 48 hours. At this time, a small percentage of patients are at risk for delirium tremens. Most symptoms are gone within a week.
  • Marijuana: Symptoms begin within the first day of last cannabis use and typically subside after seven days. Users who smoke cannabis with tobacco may undergo nicotine withdrawal as well.