Choosing to finally go to rehab can be overwhelming. Learn more about what happens during drug detox and what to expect during the process.

Choosing to finally go to detox can be overwhelming. Will it be painful? Will you be able to stay sober long-term? Is it worth the investment to go to a rehab facility?

Today, we want to calm some of those fears by giving you an insider look at what it’s like to detox at a recovery center. While the example below is for a seven-day stay, the actual length of your detox will vary on the substance you’re addicted to and how long you’ve been using it. You may only need detox for three days in a rapid detox program, or it may take up to ten days for you to get stable.

Ready? Here’s what you can expect:

Day One of Drug Detox

Meet Your Team

When you arrive at the clinic, you’ll check-in and be introduced to your doctors, nurses, and staff. This team of professionals will support you throughout detox, and oftentimes through treatment as well.

One of the first things you’ll likely do is talk with your counselor. This individual will ask about your drug or alcohol use, mental health, and family history to design a treatment plan that’s specific for your situation.

If you’re staying at the rehab center as part of an inpatient drug treatment program, you’ll get to see your room and get settled in. You’ll also take a tour of the facility. Even if you’re doing an outpatient detox program where you’re living at home, you’ll need to know where everything is.

Medical Evaluation

Substance addictions of all kinds harm your body. Your doctor will complete a physical exam, run a few tests, and ask you more about your past usage. As hard as it might be to talk about your addiction, it’s very important to be completely honest. Your doctor will be determining which medications you may need during your detox, and accurate information is crucial for giving the right prescriptions. He or she will also be planning your meals for the next week to begin replacing the nutrition you’ve lost during your addiction.

Begin Detox

Finally, your detox will begin. You might be given some medication, though certain ones won’t be prescribed until later. At this point, you’ll either return home if you’re in an outpatient program or move on to getting adjusted to life in the recovery center.

Days Two through Six of Drug Detox

We won’t sugar coat it—detox is rough. You’ll go from day to day wondering if it’ll get better, holding out for that promise that the withdrawal symptoms will ease (they will). In the meantime, here’s how you’ll likely spend your days.

Healthy Eating

Your body has likely been starved of several key nutrients for a while now, and eating well is going to be vital to get back to feeling normal. Your doctor may prescribe certain vitamins to take to supplement your meals. It might be hard for a while to eat anything at first. Sip juices and lots of water, nibble when you can, and your appetite will return over time.


Once you’re feeling well enough, you’ll be able to start attending regular programming. This might be group therapy sessions, holistic healing activities like yoga, 12-step meetings, and recreational activities.

You’ll also visit with your counselor and/or doctor regularly so they can make sure your detox is moving along safely and effectively. Don’t be afraid to bring up any concerns with them during these meetings. Your feedback will help them make sure your detox is working the way it should.


Sleep can seem impossible when your brain’s sorting itself out and your body is hurting. But catching some shut-eye will help your body rest and heal. If you’re having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about getting a sleep aid.

Day Seven of Drug Detox

At this point, your body has purged itself of the toxins. While you’ll probably still be feeling tired and experiencing some lesser withdrawal symptoms, you may also be remembering that forgotten feeling: Hope.

Preparing For Treatment

You may have begun treatment while in detox. Now, you’ll transfer to a full treatment schedule either at the facility you’re currently in or a different one.

Detox is just the first step of your journey. Treatment is what teaches you how to recover and stay sober. Your counselor will discuss your treatment options with you, which will include either an inpatient or outpatient treatment program, along with a plan to wean you off your detox medications.

Related Topic: What is a detox center

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.