What Is a Medical Detox?
Detoxification (detox) is the process of flushing out the body of alcohol or drugs. It is the first step in recovery
from substance abuse issues and moving forward to a life of sobriety. A medically assisted detox may involve other
interventions to safely manage a person’s mental and physical symptoms – such as therapy and medication.
People sometimes use the terms “detox” and “rehab” interchangeably, however, they are quite different. The aim of a
detox is to medically stabilize people coming off of a drug and minimize the intensity and harm of any withdrawal
symptoms they may be experiencing. On the other hand, rehab is a combination of services that are aimed at the overall
physical and psychological recovery of a recovering person.
What Withdrawal Symptoms Do You Experience During Detoxification?
If someone has developed an alcohol or drug addiction, it is likely they have also become dependent on the substance.
Repeated substance abuse forces the body to adapt to the constant levels of the drug in the bloodstream. When this
supply is taken away, the body can have an adverse reaction and present withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal syndrome can range in intensity from vomiting, shaking, or even seizures. This uncomfortable and sometimes
life-threatening period is one of the reasons that many people relapse during the early stages of quitting a drug.
Depending on the substance and the individual undergoing the medical detox process, withdrawal symptoms can differ.
These can include both physical and psychological symptoms such as:
- Drug cravings
- Mood swings
- Nausea and vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms
- Increased blood pressure
Detoxing in a Rehabilitation Facility
When a person enters a facility for addiction treatment they will first undergo a physical and psychological
evaluation. This may include the person’s medical history, family history, and blood tests. This helps the medical
staff compile an individualized treatment program that is right for the client and assess their withdrawal potential,
physical condition, and more.
It is important to know that each person may have a different detox experience and may need a different approach
depending on their specific situation. For this reason, there are a number of different types of detox that can be
applied appropriately to best fit the person’s needs. This initial evaluation can help a healthcare professional
outline a detox plan with a patient’s needs and goals in mind, and shape it accordingly.
Following this assessment, the inpatient will then undergo their medical detox program. The aim of an inpatient detox
is to stabilize withdrawal symptoms and make the process as comfortable and safe as possible. In a rehabilitation
facility, professional medical advice and support can be given around the clock, giving each person the best chance at
completing the initial detox period.
Sometimes mental and physical withdrawal symptoms can be so severe that the recovering person’s health is at risk.
This is where medical professionals can prescribe appropriate medication to make the process as comfortable as
possible and prevent potential health complications.
For example, when undergoing alcohol withdrawal, people can experience the life-threatening symptom of delirium
tremens (DTs). People going through DTs will experience confusion and hyperactivity, before a potentially fatal
cardiovascular collapse. Therefore during alcohol detox, a medical professional will likely prescribe benzodiazepines
to calm the central nervous system, massively reducing the inpatient’s risk of seizures or DTs.
Detox and Tapering
Going “cold turkey” can seem like the most ideal approach to quit drugs to overcome the withdrawal period as swiftly
as possible. However, a rapid detox for some substances may not be appropriate due to the potential severity of
withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures and death. Going through intensely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms suddenly
also decreases the chance of a successful detox, leading to a return to substance use. For these reasons, a physician
should be consulted before any detox treatment process to ensure the best outcomes.
In circumstances where a rapid detox is not suitable, a detox tapering schedule may be administered. This is usually
the case for alcohol and opiate detox. A tapering schedule will be put together by a medical professional which slowly
decreases the dosage of substance an individual consumes. The technique needs to be carried out in a clinical setting
in order for it to be safe and successful. Experts may need to adjust the schedule depending on the inpatient’s
withdrawal symptoms and reaction to tapering.
What is the Cost of Detox?
It is a common misconception that rehab is too expensive for most people to attend. There is a range of prices for
rehab and detox programs: some are free and some cost thousands of dollars per day. Depending on the facility chosen,
the total coverage of an individual’s insurance, and what treatment program they need depends on the amount of money
someone may need to pay out of pocket.
How Long Does Detox Last?
It typically takes around five days to one week before the substance is out of the patient’s system, so detox
treatment is around this length. Usually, symptoms peak between 24-48 hours and then begin to decrease in intensity
before the person becomes physically stable. Longer-lasting effects can linger after this initial detox period, though
treatment for these will be conducted in the following stages of recovery.
Can I Detox at Home?
Detoxing at home without the guidance of a medical professional can be dangerous and more difficult. Trying to
overcome an addiction in an environment of triggers increases the chances of relapse. For these reasons, detox
treatment is usually conducted in a hospital, rehabilitation center, or recovery village.
However, there are a number of outpatient detox programs and outpatient rehab options for people who have
responsibilities and commitments they need to uphold at home. The best way to find out which is better for your
circumstance is to contact a treatment center and your medical provider to discuss available options.
What Happens After the Detox Process?
The drug detox process is just the first step in long-term recovery from a substance abuse disorder. Part of detox is
encouraging and preparing the inpatient to enter long-term treatment, giving them the biggest chance of sustaining
long-term recovery. This next phase of rehabilitation will most likely be a stay in a residential rehabilitation
There are a number of intricate social and phycological aspects of addiction that need to be tackled in order to
prevent relapse over time. In rehab, various therapies can be used to address these issues, the most common being
cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT allows people to unpack and identify triggers linked to their drug abuse,
followed by developing coping mechanisms to help them deal with their condition.
Talking to a trained therapist is also vital to diagnose any underlying mental health disorder that a person may
have. In many cases, people struggling with an undiagnosed mental illness use illicit drugs to self-medicate, leading
to the development of addiction – whether that be alcohol, benzodiazepine, or opiate addiction.
Support groups are also extremely for overcoming addiction. These allow for a safe space to share your story and
listen to others without judgment. Addiction can be an extremely isolating disease, so having a group of people that
have gone through a similar circumstance is valuable for a person’s mental health.
It can be overwhelming dealing with addiction detox and scary to face the detox process ahead, though please know you
are not alone. NP Addiction Clinic is an inpatient detox center located in Port St. Lucie, Florida that helps people
break free from addiction and start their journey to recovery.
Our team of licensed medical professionals is trained to compassionately treat a range of mental health issues and
substance use disorders. At NP Addiction center, our staff ensures safety and comfort by providing 24/7 medical and
The treatment facility has housed countless people recovering from addiction from all walks of life, giving it the
reputation of one of the leading addiction centers in the country. Recovery is always possible with the right
treatment and support. Contact us today to find out more about NP Addiction Clinic’s world-class services to help you
or your loved one take control over their life.