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Drug Detox Program

A comfortable drug detox program is the natural process of ridding a substance from the body.  However, a professional drug detox program, also sometimes referred to as “medically managed withdrawal,” entails using a set of interventions (such as medications and other therapies) to manage the side effects that accompany quitting drugs safely.  The goal of drug detox is to minimize the potential physical harm that may result from stopping a medication (or drugs) after a sustained period of use.

It’s critical to realize the difference between a professional detox program and substance abuse rehabilitation.  However, ”detox” and “rehab” are often used interchangeably; substance abuse rehabilitation involves a conglomeration of ongoing services that aim to socially and psychologically rehabilitate someone suffering from drug abuse.  On the other hand, medical detox centers seek to medically stabilize patients, minimize their withdrawal symptoms, prevent the potentially harmful effects of withdrawal, and help them transition into a substance abuse rehabilitation program or another form of continued care.

Addiction medical detox program
An alcohol or drug detox program is generally the first step in one’s recovery treatment process.

Side Effects of Drug Detox

Those undergoing drug detox may experience symptoms and side effects of drug withdrawal.  Side effects will depend on the substance of choice, but common side effects of drug detox may include:

  • Mood changes such as mood swings, anxiety, depression, and agitation
  • Body changes such as flu-like symptoms, shaking, nausea, and headaches
  • Cravings, particularly for the drug they are attempting to quit

Process of Detoxification

Professional detoxification from alcohol and other drugs involves three essential components.

  • Evaluation is where the clinical professionals at a detoxification center perform a thorough assessment of patients’ physical and psychological condition and history.  The initial assessment may assess a person’s acute intoxication and withdrawal potential, biomedical needs, and more.  From this assessment, the clinical professionals can recommend a detoxification level of care and create an individualized treatment plan.
  • Stabilization entails going to a detox center following an individualized treatment plan and its prescribed therapies and medications to assist a patient through a safe withdrawal experience.
  • They foster a patient’s entry into longer-term substance abuse treatment, which can increase a person’s chances of sustaining their recovery and avoid relapse.  Detox alone is rarely sufficient to help a person maintain long-term recovery as it doesn’t address the complex psychological and social aspects of substance use. A decisive goal of detoxification treatment is to prepare clients for their next ideal phase of rehabilitation, which may be short-term residential treatment, long-term residential treatment, or outpatient care.

Although these are some of the most standard components and goals of detoxification, patients’ individual goals, duration in treatment, and overall treatment processes may vary.  Detoxification is a professional detoxification facility that may also involve various medications to help a patient manage their withdrawal symptoms safely, comfortably, and in a controlled environment.

Detox and Tapering

Tapering consists of weaning a person off medication to ease withdrawal symptoms.  This typically involves clinical staff administering medications in slowly decreasing doses following a specific schedule.  The technique is sometimes used when medications are administered for benzodiazepine, alcohol, or opioid withdrawal.  Tapering requires that clinical professionals in a drug detox environment exercise their best judgment and employ tools and protocols when making decisions about tapering.

Quitting Drugs Cold Turkey

Quitting one or multiple drugs “cold turkey,” or all at once, can prove dangerous for specific substances.  For example, when stopped abruptly after chronic, long-term use, alcohol can cause seizures, delirium, diarrhea, and sometimes death.  Abruptly quitting opioids is rarely fatal, but suddenly stopping them can still cause very uncomfortable symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, flu-like symptoms, and more.  Moderate to severe withdrawal of opioids also often include drug cravings.  Experiencing these suddenly often prompts a person to relapse and return to opioid use.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to consult with a physician before quitting any drug cold-turkey.  It may also be helpful to contact a drug detox center to determine whether or not a medically managed detox program is right for you.

Different Types of Drug Detox

There are various types of professional detoxification programs to fit a patient’s clinical needs.  Many drug detox programs employ the “medical model” of detoxification, which means a clinical staff made up of physicians and nurses use certain medications to help people safely detox.

 Detox can take place in a wide variety of settings and at varying levels of intensity.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration identifies five detoxification “placement levels of care” within the detoxification realm of treatment, including:

  • Ambulatory Detoxification Without Extended On-Site Monitoring:  This type of detoxification program occurs on an outpatient basis and is typically only used when patients have a sound social support system outside of treatment.
  • Ambulatory Detoxification With Extended On-Site Monitoring:  This type of detoxification is similar to the placement level of care above but requires the availability of credentialed nurses who monitor patients for several hours a day.
  • Clinically Managed Residential Detoxification:  This type of detoxification provides 24/7 supervision and may sometimes be referred to as “social detoxification” because it has minimal medical oversight but focuses on peer and social support.
  • Medically Monitored Inpatient Detoxification:  This level of care is more restrictive than the Clinically Managed Residential Detoxification placement level of care.  Inpatient detoxification consists of 24/7 care and supervision, and support for patients experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
  • Medically Managed Intensive Inpatient Detoxification:  This level of care is the most restrictive placement level of care in the detoxification program realm.  It provides 24/7 care and supervision for patients experiencing withdrawal symptoms in an acute care inpatient setting.

Medical detoxification may be provided at inpatient, residential, or outpatient treatment. It may exist as part of a more extensive substance abuse rehabilitation program or operate independently.  Patients with complex medical or psychiatric needs are more likely to require detoxification in an inpatient setting.

Detoxing at Home

Many people turn to professional detox services to make their detox experience safe and as comfortable as possible. However, it may be more difficult for some to stay the course in their home environment; there could be people or things that trigger a relapse. In rare cases, it may also be dangerous.  Therefore, it may be beneficial to reach out to a drug detox center near you to speak to your physician. You can also call a drug addiction helpline for information on detoxing from your drug of choice in a safe environment. Some detox centers even offer same-day drug detox, depending on their admittance capacity, your location, and various other factors.

What Happens After Detox?

Detox alone is rarely sufficient in helping a person achieve long-term recovery. It is only the first stage of addiction treatment.  Often, patients decide to enter a substance abuse rehabilitation program once they’re finished with their drug detox program.  Effective treatment needs to address a person’s drug abuse and any associated medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems. Treatment should be appropriate to the individual’s age, gender, ethnicity, and culture.  Medication may be included; however, behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of treatment for substance abuse.

Identifying success in the realm of addiction treatment may require people to reframe preconceived ideas about what recovery means.  Addiction treatment aims to return a person to productive functioning in their family, job or school, and community.  Addiction is similar to other chronic illnesses, which means that some people will relapse. But this does not mean that treatment wasn’t successful. Instead, it could mean perhaps adjustments in medication and aftercare plan.

The Cost of Drug Detox

The cost of drug detox varies depending on your payment method, the particular detox center you’re attending, and the level of detox care provided.  Insurance policies may help cover the full or partial cost of detox, but free rehab and detox programs and programs accept Medicaid.  Check below whether your insurance policy might cover a detoxification program at Source – We Level Up Addiction Rehabilitation Center.

Medications Used During Detox

Common medications used in drug detox can help to ease withdrawal symptoms.  The medication will depend on the substance and may include:

  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Naltrexone
  • Acamprosate
  • Disulfiram

How Long Does Drug Detox Program Last?

Most patients will complete a drug detox program in about a week.  However, the duration depends upon various factors. This includes the type of drugs someone used, how much was being used, how long the person has been using, and a person’s overall health.

What’s the Best Way to Find a Drug Detox Center?

Detoxification is often the first step in addiction treatment.  Some of the best ways to find a drug detox center include speaking directly with your physician or therapist. You can also locate a drug detox center through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or calling a drug addiction helpline.

At We Level Up Treatment Center, we provide world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope.  We work as an integrated team providing support through comfortable drug detox program and other aspects of treatment.  Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life.  Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists.  Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.


[1] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.

[2] American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2020). The ASAM National Practice Guideline.