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The Detox Guide



This is an online version of the 5th edition of the UK version of The Detox Handbook, which is available free from many drug services in the UK.

The detox handbook is written for people in the UK and contains useful information for anyone interested in methadone treatment – whether you are already in treatment, starting treatment or just finding out more about it. Most of the information will apply if you live outside the UK, but the laws, formulations and the way drug services work may be different. Wherever you live, a booklet, or website is no substitute for talking to an expert. If you can’t find the information you need, want to know more about something or have any questions or worries, your drug worker, doctor or pharmacist should be able to help.

The Detox Handbook gives you the basic information you need if you are coming off, or thinking about coming off, any of the opiate drugs such as heroin or methadone.

If you only use opiates occasionally or only take other drugs such as amphetamines or temazepam then some of the information in the book won’t apply to you. If you’re in doubt check with a drug worker or doctor.

The handbook aims to help you make decisions and achieve what you want before, during and after a detox. You can use the book to detox on your own,or with help from prescribing or other services.

The book is divided into 3 sections:

  • Part 1: ‘Before you detox’ looks at the plans and preparationsyou can make to help improve your chances of successful detox (including deciding which drug to detox on);
  • Part 2: ‘Coming off’ gives information to help you through thewithdrawals; and
  • Part 3: ‘Once you are off’ gives you some ideas on staying cleanfollowing a detox.

Guide Index

Before you detox
Understanding why you take drugs
Pros and cons of detoxing
Alternatives to detoxing
Getting ready to detox
Deciding how fast to detox
Who can help?

Where to detox

  • At Home
  • Moving away
  • Going abroad
  • Hospital
  • Specialist units
  • Rehab
  • Prison
Prescribing services
Services for drug-using parents
Choosing a drug to reduce on
Illicit heroin


Coming off
Withdrawals – your body
Withdrawals – your mind and feelings
Coping with withdrawals
Stopping injecting


Once you are off
Other drugs
Staying off
Cravings and triggers
Just every now and then?
Lapse / relapse
Filling time
Coping and the future