Drug and alcohol detox is the process of clearing an addictive substance from your body by abstaining from use for an extended period of time. During this time, many people experience physical and mental withdrawal symptoms as the body adjusts to a lack of the substance that had previously been present.

Medically-assisted detox is always the safest way to rid your body of an addictive substance, whether you’ve been using a substance for a few days or several years. Withdrawal can be unpredictable and clinical monitoring ensures that you’ll have access to medical treatment in the event of a serious health issue or medical emergency.

But before you or a loved one can even be admitted to a drug and alcohol detox center, you must first recognize that there is a substance abuse problem.

Dependence Defined

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines drug dependence as “a state in which an organism functions normally only in the presence of a drug.” In your everyday life, drug dependence may present itself as the inability to get through the day without using a drug or feeling unable to complete normal, daily tasks without it. If you have become dependent on a drug, you might feel fearful about the idea of not using it because you dread the uncomfortable physical effects you experience when you stop.

Addiction Criteria

Addiction is defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine as “a primary chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.” To put it plainly, addiction is a disease of the brain that is characterized by the inability to control a certain action or behavior despite negative physical, emotional and relational consequences.

The American Psychiatric Association publishes the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to determine the severity of a person’s addiction. This criterion includes:

  1. Relationships are strained due to substance use
  2. A considerable amount of time is spent trying to get the substance
  3. There are physical and emotional signs of withdrawal when usage is stopped
  4. Strong cravings for the substance are constant
  5. Hobbies and recreational activities take a back seat to drug use
  6. School, work and other obligations are no longer a priority
  7. There is a physical inability to stop using the drug, even when actively trying
  8. There is a lack of control concerning drug usage habits
  9. The drug abuse puts the user or others in dangerous situations

If you find that you or a loved one meet two or more of the criteria listed above, you may have a serious substance abuse problem and should consider seeking professional detox and addiction rehabilitation.

Signs You May Need Detox

Addiction can affect anyone. This disease does not discriminate based on age, ethnicity, sex, economic status, or any other factor. In any case, it can be very difficult to identify your own addiction and admit that you need help. If you’re still unsure about your need for detox, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I hide my drug abuse from friends and family?
  • Do I want to quit but feel like I am unable to?
  • Have I lost interest in other things I used to enjoy?
  • Do I need to take more of the drug to get the same effect I used to?
  • Are my relationships suffering as a result of my drug abuse?
  • Do I have strong drug cravings?
  • Do I experience withdrawal symptoms if I stop using?
  • Is a majority of my time spent trying to figure out how I will get the substance?
  • Do I risk the safety of myself or others just to use?
  • Do I feel guilty about my drug usage?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may need to consider a detox treatment plan, medical monitoring in a detox facility or an intensive drug rehab program.

Treatment Options

Detox is just the first phase of recovery. It is a gateway into long-term addiction treatment that will address deeply-rooted issues that caused the addiction in the first place. Detoxification addresses your current needs, helping you process withdrawal and all the physical, mental and emotional changes that come with it. Rehab provides ongoing therapy, coping mechanisms and life skills for people who need to learn how to live a life without substance abuse.

While a detox program at Hill Country Detox will prepare you for ongoing treatment, it is certainly not a substitute for it. For this reason, we recommend completing detox before entering an inpatient or outpatient rehab program.



  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/neurobiology-drug-addiction/section-iii-action-heroin-morphine/8-definition-dependence
  2. https://www.addictioncenter.com/addiction/
  3. https://www.asam.org/quality-practice/definition-of-addiction

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