Within the realms of employee welfare, many employers use terms like ‘drug detox’ and ‘drug rehab’, and often use them interchangeably to refer to, what they believe is, the same thing. The key point we will make within this article is that detox and rehab within the sphere of drug use and recovery from drug addiction are two entirely different processes and that employers and business owners need to know the differences between them.

Drug Detox Explained

Detox, which is short for detoxification, is the process by which someone seeks to rid their body of all traces of any drugs and their inherent toxins from the body. Detox is usually seen as the first step towards recovery from drug use and addiction, and the basis for starting that road to recovery.

In the most severe cases, where the person is heavily addicted to specific drugs, such as ice addiction, they may require prescribed medication to help minimize the inevitable symptoms of withdrawal as they detox. In the less serious cases, an individual might only require information on what steps to take during detox, and support from drug counsellors or therapy groups.

Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

When detoxing from drugs, a patient is likely to have withdrawal symptoms which are in proportion to their level of addiction, although these will differ for each individual. These can be broken down in to three categories, which are physical, behavioural, and severe.

Physical withdrawal symptoms which can occur during detox include the following:

Aching Muscles

Behavioural withdrawal symptoms which can occur during detox can include the following.


Some individual whilst going through drug detox may experience extreme withdrawal symptoms, and these can be so severe that they become life-threatening. Whilst rare, if any of these occur, medical attention should be sought as soon as possible. These withdrawal symptoms include:

Excessive Heartbeat Rate

With respect to all of the above withdrawal symptoms, their unpleasantness, and in some cases, their risk to the patient, drug detox is usually recommended to take place under medical supervision, especially in the first stages of detox where the withdrawal symptoms will be at their worst. On completion of detox the patient’s body is cleansed, and their desire and carving for drugs should be greatly minimised. At this point they are now ready to enter a drug rehab program.

Drug Rehab Explained

A drug rehab program differs from detox in the sense that it is not a physical process that the patient goes through, and it is designed, not to rid the person of the drugs, but to address the underlying issues that caused the person to want to take drugs in the first place and continue to take them.

Many of these issues are related to the person’s mental and emotional health and often has to deal with an individual’s low self-esteem, their feeling of worthlessness, anxiety, depression, and in some cases more than one of these. Drug rehab programs will use a variety of methods to aid the patient in getting to the point where drugs are not seen as the answer to their problems. These include:

Anger Management
Group Therapy
One-To-One Counselling
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Stress Reduction
Coping Skills

In all cases, it is essential that detox occurs BEFORE drug rehab is considered, due to the simple fact that if someone is still physically addicted to drugs, any rehabilitation will be a waste of time and effort.