Known as detoxification or detox, this process can be somewhat lengthy, quite painful and even dangerous in some situations. For this reason, most patients are referred to an inpatient or residential detox program, where they can be under constant medical supervision as the detoxification takes place.

When a person has been abusing drugs or alcohol for some time, that substance can take a significant toll on the mind and body. When the substance is suddenly stopped, a person can experience withdrawal symptoms that are both physiological and psychological in nature. The intensity and duration of withdrawal symptoms will vary based on the specific substance abused, how much of the substance was typically taken, and the duration of the abuse. During withdrawal, individuals can experience very painful symptoms and even become violent or suicidal. This is why detox can only be safely done under the careful supervision of medical personnel specially trained in detoxification procedures.

Do you need detox?

Detox is not a necessary process for everyone that enters an addiction treatment program. It is typically recommended for those with a severe or long-term addiction. If you qualify for detox, it is an essential step in the recovery process. Detox is the only way to completely rid your body of the abused substance and prepare your mind and body for the work that lies ahead in the treatment and recovery process. Detox is a difficult, but necessary, part of the treatment process for most people struggling with substance addiction.

Types of Detox

There are a number of different ways in which detox can take place:

“Cold Turkey” Detox

This type of detox requires the individual to completely stop using all substances, including the substance of abuse and any medications that might be used to control withdrawal symptoms during the detox process. Only medical supervision is provided during this type of detoxification.

Short-Term Medical Detox

In some situations, it can be beneficial to provide the individual with certain types of medications to manage particularly painful withdrawal symptoms during the detox process. For example, an individual experiencing severe aches and pains may be given a pain reliever to make them more comfortable.

Long-Term Medical Detox

Detox from some substances, such as opiate drugs, can be a very long and very painful process. In these cases, it can be appropriate to provide long-term medical assistance to help the individual survive the extended withdrawal. A medication may be prescribed to abate the withdrawal symptoms, with a higher dosage at the beginning of detox and slowly tapering off until the patient is finally completely drug-free.