Medical Detox: The Foundation For Successful Recovery

Medical Detox:
The Foundation For Successful Recovery

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Detox is the essential first step in the substance use or alcohol recovery journey.

However, it’s also the most difficult step to take. As you begin to experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and cravings, maintaining sobriety on your own can be challenging.

At Alpas Wellness, our addiction field specialists will be by your side every step of the way. We’ll help you recover in comfort and safety while you focus on reaching your health and wellness goals.

What is Medical Detox?

A medical detoxification facility is a medically monitored inpatient rehab center that provides 24-hour care supervised by medical professionals. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines this as the Level III 7-D level of care.[1]

Those suffering from drug or alcohol withdrawal symptoms receive primary medical and nursing care services based on individual care plans. Physicians are always available, and our RNs are always on-site to provide care as needed and monitor your health and progress.

Medication-assisted treatment is also offered on a case-by-case basis in a medical detox program. This serves to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, and offer a more comfortable detox experience.

Medical Detox vs. Social Detox:
What’s The Difference?

A social detox is a non-medical detox setting that offers clinical support in a safe and sober environment. At this level of care, categorized by ASAM as Level III.2-D, the priorities are peer support and clinical interventions for mild intoxication or withdrawal.

A medical detox program offers a greater level of care for more acute withdrawal symptoms or severe alcohol use or substance use disorder.

Before After

Medical Detox

A medically-managed detox treatment program offers a safe and supervised space for you or your loved one to navigate the symptoms of withdrawal and minimize physical harm. When admitted, you will be assigned an individualized treatment plan that considers your medical history, mental health, family history, and disorder severity.

Medical providers will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, and withdrawal symptoms until you’ve reached the desired level of stabilization.

How (and Why) Drug Detoxification Works

The detoxification process is the clearing of harmful toxins (drugs, alcohol, painkillers, etc.) from the body for someone who has developed a dependence.[2]

As your brain adjusts back to natural chemical levels, there are many uncomfortable side effects including headaches, nausea, fatigue, irritability, and stomach cramps, among others. This is the first step to restoring the balance in your mind and body and creating a healthier you.

How (and Why) Drug Detoxification Works

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Withdrawal Symptoms and Side Effects of Drug Detox

  • Dysphoria
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Agitation
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure
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Withdrawal Symptoms and Side Effects of Alcohol Detox[4]

  • Exhaustion
  • Insomnia
  • Hand tremors
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens (altered mental status)

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

Looking for a safe and supportive detox is often the first step in addiction treatment. To find a drug detox center that’s a good fit for you, try the following.

  • Ask your doctor for a referral.
  • Ask trusted friends and family where they recommend.
  • Search for an inpatient detox through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) database.
  • Call the drug addiction helpline.

Find Medical Detox Near Me

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  • The Dangers of Quitting Drugs Cold Turkey

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    Some of the more severe symptoms of withdrawal include anxiety, agitation, seizures, delirium tremens (altered mental status), heart palpitations (tachycardia), and high blood pressure (hypertension).

    As you’re confronted with these symptoms, it may be difficult to maintain abstinence due to the pain and discomfort. In severe cases, these symptoms can be life-threatening and could lead to serious health issues.

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  • Can You Detox from Drugs and Alcohol at Home?

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    For a mild substance use or alcohol use disorder, it may be possible to detox through an outpatient treatment center or at home. However, due to the severity of some withdrawal symptoms, this may not be safe.

    A medical detox facility monitors your overall health and progress to ensure your safety and avoid the more serious side effects of detox and withdrawal. Detox is only the first step of recovery. Additional support, therapy, and counseling are needed to develop strong coping skills and personal autonomy.

  • Cost of Medical Detox

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    The cost of medical detox services will vary depending on the unique needs of each patient. Other factors that may impact cost include the level of care required, the individual treatment plan if there is a need for medically managed care, co-occurring disorder treatment, and the eligibility for Medicaid, Medicare, or other insurance coverage. Call the Alpas Wellness admissions team to learn more and verify your insurance.

  • Treatments and Therapies Related to Medical Detox

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    The detox process is the immediate level of care for those with a severe substance or alcohol use disorder who need additional care.

  • MAT Therapy or Medication-Assisted Treatment

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    Medication-assisted treatments can alleviate symptoms and reduce cravings to mitigate the risk of relapse.[5] Some medications include Suboxone® (for opioid withdrawal), methadone, buprenorphine, Vivitrol®, and naltrexone.

  • Drug Tapering

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    For some prescription medications, the physician will prescribe a drug tapering schedule. This reduces the dosage or frequency of a medication or substance allowing the body to gradually detox harmful toxins and reduce the severity of withdrawal.

  • Behavioral Health and Therapy

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    On its own, detox is insufficient to support lifelong recovery. It’s important to develop strong coping skills before fully reintegrating back into daily routines. Evidence-based therapy interventions include:

    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
    • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
    • Motivational Interviewing (MI)
    • Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)
    • Experiential Therapy
  • Substance-Specific Withdrawal Treatment Information

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    • Cannabis Treatment
    • Meth Treatment
    • Cocaine Treatment
    • Ambien Treatment
    • Opioid Treatment

Frequently Asked Questions about Medical Detox


How long do you detox your body?


In most cases, harmful toxins can be largely eliminated from the body within several hours or a day, but the residual effects can last much longer, sometimes weeks.


How can you tell if someone is detoxing?


Someone who is detoxing or experiencing withdrawal will exhibit some or all of the hallmark symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, irritability, nausea, seizures, altered mental status, high blood pressure, and heart palpitations.


How long does a detox program last?


For most patients, medical detox lasts approximately three days or until you’re stable enough to transfer to inpatient treatment. The average length of stay for more comprehensive treatment is 30 days.


[1]Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2 settings, levels of care, and patient placement. (n.d.-a). Retrieved from on June 5, 2023

[2]Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 1 overview, essential concepts, and definitions in detoxification. (n.d.-a). Retrieved from on June 5, 2023

[3]Kosten, T. R., & O’Connor, P. G. (n.d.). Management of Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal. University of Washington School of Medicine. Retrieved from on June 5, 2023

[4]Bayard, M., Mcintyre, J., Hill, K. R., & Jack Woodside, J. (2004, March 15). Alcohol withdrawal syndrome. American Family Physician. Retrieved from on June 2, 2023

[5]Diaper, A. M., Law, F. D., & Melichar, J. K. (2014a, February). Pharmacological strategies for detoxification. British journal of clinical pharmacology. Retrieved from on June 5, 2023

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