What to Expect When Your Teen is Detoxing

Detoxing is when a person stops using drugs and/or alcohol after developing an addiction. The detox process can take different amounts of time depending on the person, the amount and type of drug they were taking, and their cooperation in the detoxification process, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The detox plan itself will also vary depended on treatment needed and any other mental or physical disorders. Detox is, however, always the first step to recovery.

Physical and Emotional Withdrawal

When a person undergoes detox, they experience physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms that will vary in intensity depending on the individual and drug type. Some emotional effects can include depression, anxiety, moodiness and restlessness. There are also physical effects of withdrawal, which can include sweating, nausea and seizures or fits. Medications to help cope with these effects can be prescribed by a doctor if necessary.

Possible Relapse


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Addiction is a challenging disease to overcome—it is a lifelong battle. Because of this, there is always a possibility that your teen will relapse after detox. It is important to remain supportive and encouraging while they undergo their treatment and detox process.

 It is also important to remember that your teen may not want to tell their parents everything about their addiction. They may ask a doctor or other professional to refrain from providing you with certain information, as they may be ashamed and would prefer that you didn’t know. However, a counsellor or physician may consult you for background information on your child including their medical history, school performance, family relationship and home environment, in order to fully understand the teen and their addiction.

Inpatient or Residential Treatment

Detoxing should be monitored by medical professionals. Your teen may be referred to an inpatient or residential program, where they “live” at the medical/rehab facility until they have completed detox, and/or their rehab program. Your teen will be given a long-term treatment plan that is unique to them and their recovery. The plan may include counselling, life skills training, relapse prevention training and treatment for mental disorders.


A Difficult Adjustment

It is also important to understand that detox is a lifestyle adjustment for you and your teen. As previously mentioned, your teen’s addiction will be a lifelong battle. This battle will be easier for them to fight if you, their parental support, are as open and understanding of change as you expect your teen to be.

Featured image Dani Vazquez