Skip to content

Medical Detox

What is a Detox?

Detox, also known as detoxification, is the first step in addiction treatment and is the process of ridding the body of toxins caused by drug or alcohol abuse. Detox can be accompanied by uncomfortable and severe withdrawal symptoms that can be deadly if not done under the care of a team of licensed medical professionals. This medical team is often headed by a physician and consists of a nursing staff, a clinical team, substance abuse counselors, and therapists. Some detox facilities utilize advanced practice staff like nurse practitioners or physician assistants to deliver medical care during detox.

Addiction withdrawal symptoms are the brain’s response to being without the abused substance. The different kinds of withdrawal syndromes may include various combinations of physical and psychological symptoms—some of which can have dangerous complications if left unmanaged. Medically-assisted detox in inpatient detoxification programs can lessen the discomfort of these symptoms with the use of addiction medicine, mental health services, and behavioral therapies for a successful recovery.

Drug Detox Programs

A professional drug detox program, also sometimes referred to as “medically managed withdrawal,” entails using a set of interventions (such as various medications and other therapies) to safely manage the side effects accompanying quitting drugs or alcohol. Drug detox aims 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. While ”detox” and “rehab” are often used interchangeably, substance abuse rehabilitation involves a conglomeration of ongoing services that aim to physically and psychologically rehabilitate someone suffering from drug addiction. 

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. It’s important to note that inpatient detox does not constitute drug and alcohol treatment but is part of a continuum of care for substance­ use disorders. Detoxification can occur in various settings and at several intensity levels, such as rapid detox, ultra-rapid detoxification, etc. Placement should be appropriate to the client’s needs.

What is Medical Detox?

Medical detoxification or medically assisted drug detox is the safest and most comfortable way to detox from drugs or alcohol. At medical detox treatment centers, patients receive around-the-clock care from medical professionals who help through the substance use withdrawal process. Medical detoxification can also be done in a hospital or at home through outpatient detox under medical supervision.

Medical drug detox is crucial for all individuals with a psychological and physical dependence on a substance. While detox is not considered an addiction treatment program, those who complete medical detox are more likely to stay in treatment longer and have long stretches of sobriety. This level of care is often required before beginning residential or inpatient substance use treatment or the following stages of recovery.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Process

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the drug detox process is an overall process with three essential components that may take place concurrently or as a series of steps:

  1. Evaluation: Evaluation entails testing for the presence of drug and alcohol use in the bloodstream, measuring concentration, and screening for co-­occurring conditions. It also incorporates a comprehensive evaluation of the client’s needs to help determine the appropriate level of treatment following detoxification services which is used as the basis for crafting a substance abuse treatment plan.
  2. Stabilization: Stabilization covers the medical and psychosocial processes of assisting the client through acute intoxication and withdrawal to accomplish a medically stable, fully supported substance ­free state. This can be done with the assistance of medications and includes familiarizing clients with what to expect while participating in substance use disorder treatment at a treatment center.
  3. Fostering A Client’s Entry Into Treatment: Promoting the client’s entry into a treatment center involves preparing the client by stressing the importance of following through with the complete medical model/continuum of care.

All three components (evaluation, stabilization, and fostering a patient’s entry into treatment) involve treating the client with compassion and understanding. Whether participating in inpatient detox or outpatient care, clients need to know that someone cares about them, respects them as individuals, and has hope for their future.

Who Needs Help from a Medical Detox Center?

Are you or a loved one suffering from addiction? Or have you become so dependent that you can’t stop using or drinking? Then, your very first step in recovery should be to medical detox in a safe and medically supervised setting. We Level Up detox centers medically assist patients in clearing their systems of addictive substances.

Anyone who engages in heavy alcohol consumption and drug abuse and has a strong physical addiction is a candidate for medical detox. With that said, some substance use disorders are more likely to call for a medically supervised detoxification program than others. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction to any of the substances listed below, we encourage you to explore medically supervised detox:

Alcohol Detox: For those struggling with alcohol use disorder, it’s imperative to undergo an alcohol detox program. Alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous and even fatal in certain cases of long-term heavy alcohol consumption. Attending a safe and medically managed detox center for alcohol use disorder has many benefits. Treatment for severe withdrawal should not be hurried, as complications that need to be addressed may arise.

Benzodiazepines Detox: Benzodiazepines (often seen in prescription drugs like Xanax or valium) can result in life-threatening withdrawal symptoms if use is suddenly cut off. Individuals with these kinds of prescription drug addictions strongly recommend that they never attempt to detox on their own without medical supervision.

Heroin & Opiate/Opioid Pain Pills Detox: Opiate/Opioid withdrawal is generally not life-threatening, but symptoms can be painful and extremely uncomfortable. Trying to quit heroin or opiates “cold turkey” can be challenging and dangerous to do on your own. To safely and effectively overcome opiate addiction and the severe withdrawal that comes with it, it is best to seek support from a licensed treatment facility.

Cocaine Detox: While cocaine withdrawal is not known to have any visible side effects, it can result in extreme mood swings and lead to violent tendencies. Stimulant withdrawal syndrome is relatively less intense with cocaine than those associated with substances such as alcohol and opioids.

Methamphetamine Detox: Like cocaine withdrawal and other stimulants, detoxification from methamphetamine can lead to mood imbalances that are challenging to manage without medical intervention. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to any of the above substances or other drugs, a medical detox program can help secure a healthier future. Many types of detox centers are available depending on the substance use disorder you are struggling with. If you experience withdrawal symptoms for any of the substances listed above or others, We Level Up can help. Our detox center programs provide a foundation for building new and healthy habits. 

What to Expect During Medical Detox Substance Abuse Treatment

The length of medical detox will vary from person to person, but it typically lasts for several days or weeks. While in medical detox, you will receive a standard examination from a medical professional who will take your vitals, such as your blood pressure and heart rate, and review your health history. Depending on the severity of the addiction and the kind of drug abuse, your body will naturally begin to show signs of withdrawal within several hours (though again, the exact amount of time will vary from patient to patient and depends on the addiction).

The clinical staff helps tailor addiction care to each person’s needs during medical detox. To ensure that these needs are met, clients undergo comprehensive evaluations, where clinicians screen for:

  • Substance use disorders
  • Co-occurring disorders
  • Medical conditions
  • Contributing psychological factors
  • Risk for withdrawal

During medical detox, patients are often given medications to help reduce symptoms during the withdrawal process.  Some of the most common addiction medications include:

  • Clonidine: This medication is used to treat anxiety, agitation, and other withdrawal symptoms.
  • Benzodiazepines: These medications are used to treat seizures, anxiety, and other withdrawal symptoms.
  • Methadone: This medication is used to treat opioid addiction. It helps to reduce cravings for opioids and prevent other symptoms.
  • Naltrexone: This medication is used to treat opioid and alcohol addiction. It helps to reduce cravings for opioids and alcohol and prevents withdrawal symptoms.

Benefits of Medical Detox

It is extremely difficult and sometimes dangerous for you to quit alone. Drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be severe and, in extreme cases, fatal. Going to rehab eases addiction recovery and helps reverse the harm caused by addiction. Some of the benefits of medical detox in an inpatient treatment setting include:

  • Medically-assisted detox: Treatment is monitored and designed by a team of medical professionals on-site 24/7 to ensure you receive the proper support.
  • Therapeutic environment: Inpatient drug rehab centers provide a safe, peaceful, and nurturing environment that helps recovery with various support groups to help propel you forward.
  • Improved treatment outcome: Inpatient drug rehabs have a higher success rate for substance abuse treatment than home detox, community treatment, or outpatient treatment.
  • Access to experienced addiction specialists: The staff at an inpatient rehab has some of the best addiction specialists to deliver an evidence-based program who are there to offer you professional medical advice and support as needed.
  • A wider range of therapies to overcome the root cause of addiction: Inpatient drug rehabs include as many therapies as possible to ensure the comprehensive and holistic treatment to address the underlying co-occurring mental health condition that often causes or results from your addiction.

Withdrawal Management

To start your medical detox, you must first go through an evaluation. This step is critical in starting your journey toward recovery. During this step, a medical practitioner will evaluate your drug and alcohol usage and your symptoms of withdrawal to determine the proper detox treatment plan.

After the evaluation is detoxification, this stage starts as soon as you stop abusing alcohol or drugs, and your body starts to cleanse itself of the substance(s). There are several detox programs available, and it’s crucial to find one that’s right for you. The staff at the detox facility should be available to support you through the ups and downs of the medical detox process and to make it as comfortable as possible.

The process does not end once the medical detox process is complete. Continuing with aftercare is crucial to your success. While your body may be physically rid of the drug, your mind is still recovering. During this time, it is crucial to learn and embrace strong sober living tools that will help you resist the temptations of substance usage.

Withdrawal Symptoms Pains & Fears

For anyone suffering from addiction, just the thought of stopping drug or alcohol use can cause severe mental distress. That’s because the associated withdrawal process is notorious for being quite painful and slow to progress to recovery. A medical detox program can better manage your detoxification treatment process. A comprehensive team prescribing medications can alleviate withdrawal pains while monitoring your progress, vitals (such as your blood pressure), and overall health, assuring your safety and comfort.

Some people struggling with addiction are apprehensive about quitting because they fear discomfort. And the feelings of severe sickness during detox. Some may experience more minor withdrawal effects, whereas others face extreme pain and even dangerous symptoms with severe negative medical effects. Withdrawal symptoms can change quickly and aggressively. Supervised detox under the care of addiction specialists can make your recovery safer and more comfortable. Licensed addiction specialists at a rehab facility can help you manage withdrawal pain. Using different medications for each type of addiction you’re experiencing will help you wean off more safely and comfortably, allowing you to focus on your recovery and improve. It’s common for emergency medical services to be available from specialized first responders at the facility.

Dependence Symptoms

Users of addictive abused drugs can determine when they are hooked on a particular substance. When you depend on a substance, meaning where you stop its use completely or even partially, you can begin feeling withdrawal pains and their related symptoms. Addiction detox services are essential for anyone physically and/or psychologically dependent on one or more abused addictive substances. The various symptoms caused by addictive substance withdrawal effects include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Severe dehydration
  • Severe stress and anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems

Cost of Medical Detox 

The cost of a medical detox will vary widely depending on the level of treatment required and which medications you’ll need throughout your stay. The longer you stay in a detox program, the more expensive your stay will be. While some individuals may have the money to afford luxury detox programs that offer additional amenities, others would rather stick with bare-bones care.

No matter what you need for addiction treatment or how serious your monetary problems have become, help is available. Detox is a medical program and a form of healthcare. For this reason, it is important to refrain from choosing the cheapest option simply because it is inexpensive and instead look for the best choice for your needs that will fit your budget.

Use your health insurance plan. Most private insurance plans offer at least partial—if not full—coverage for this type of care. Many health insurance plans will cover detox as it’s the most important step in treating addiction.

Depending on your insurance coverage, you might be able to offset a significant portion of the costs. It’s recommended to call your health insurance provider to get an estimate for how much of the detox they’ll pay for. We understand that going through your insurance policy can be challenging, time-consuming, and frustrating. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. At We Level Up, our admissions staff will work directly with you and your insurance company throughout the admissions process. Learn more about your coverage by clicking on your insurance provider below: 

For those not insured or with a plan that does not cover drug or alcohol detox, many state-funded and sliding-scale options are available at various treatment centers. You can also look into payment assistance programs to help offset the cost of treatment.

Get Support at our Treatment Facilities

Are you or a loved one struggling with substance abuse? Or have you become so dependent that you can’t stop using? Then, your very first step toward recovery should be to comfortably detox in a safe and medically supervised setting. We Level Up Detox Centers assist patients in clearing their systems after prolonged substance use. As patients continue to progress in their recovery journey, we find them the right therapies, addiction programs, and other services that fit their specific needs and recovery goals.

We Level Up offers many drug addiction treatment options for those struggling with addiction and associated mental health disorders. While medical detox is only the first step in the addiction recovery process, it’s an important step toward getting your life, health, and sobriety back.