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Medical Drug Detox: What to know

Written by Jonathan Strum

& Medically Reviewed by Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN

Medically Reviewed

Up to Date

This article was reviewed by a medical professional to guarantee the delivery of accurate and up-to- date information. View our research policy.

Last Updated - 6/17/2022

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Addiction is a different experience for everyone, meaning each person has unique needs that must be met throughout treatment and recovery. Still, detoxification is a universal first step that most people must take when they begin their recovery journey. Detox involves stopping substance use, which allows the body to rid itself of any drugs or alcohol remaining in the system.

During detox, patients may experience psychological and physiological withdrawal symptoms that can be uncomfortable, painful and possibly life-threatening. Due to these risks, treatment providers often recommend going through medical drug detox.

What Is Medical Drug Detox?

A medical drug detox allows someone with addiction to rid their body of substances and toxins in a medically monitored environment. Medically assisted detox is conducted in a safe, monitored environment — such as a hospital, detox center or treatment facility — where medical professionals oversee the process of drug or alcohol detox.

Detoxing from drugs or alcohol at home, known as quitting “cold turkey,” is often not recommended. This is due to the potential dangers and extreme discomfort that withdrawal symptoms can cause. Medically assisted detox is typically the safest option for detox because the patient is cared for by medical professionals. The benefits of medical drug detox include:

  • A safe environment
  • Availability of medications
  • Constant medical supervision

After detox completes, the patient can begin treatment for their addiction. They may choose to enroll in residential treatmentoutpatient care, teletherapy or partial-hospitalization, depending on the level of treatment they require.

How Does Drug Detox Work?

The goal of drug detox is to rid the body of any remaining toxins from prior substance use. The purpose of medical drug detox is to:

  • Ease the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms
  • Address any serious medical problems or complications that arise during detox
  • Provide support for the patient, both medically and emotionally

Medical drug detox does not necessarily address the risk factors or causes of a patient’s addiction, as these are usually discussed during post-detox treatment. The primary focus of detox is to eliminate a patient’s physical dependence on a substance.

Who Needs Drug Detox?

In most cases, a person with a substance addiction must go through detox before starting rehab. Patients can’t continue using substances during rehab, as doing so would be counterproductive to treatment. Some examples of substances that someone would need to detox from include:

  • Alcohol
  • Prescription opioids
  • Benzos (Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan)
  • Heroin
  • Meth
  • Cocaine
  • Fentanyl

What To Expect During Medical Drug Detox

Medical drug detox programs usually consist of three steps: evaluation, detoxification and transition to further treatment. Addiction treatment can be intimidating — especially the detoxification process — but if patients have an idea of what to expect, treatment may seem less daunting.

During the evaluation stage of drug detox, the medical team gathers information from the patient to determine the type of substance, how long they’ve used it and the amount they use. Some of the screening procedures include:

  • An individual assessment
  • Blood tests
  • Assessment for co-occurring disorders
  • Medical assessment
  • Psychological assessment
  • Risk assessment
  • Social assessment

The next step is the actual detoxification process. During this stage, the patient stops using the substance and their body stabilizes as it rids itself of remaining substances. Withdrawal symptoms can make this step difficult by causing varying levels of discomfort. Many medical drug detox programs will provide constant care and medical management to help patients cope with uncomfortable detox symptoms.

The final step of detox prepares the patient to move on to the next step of treatment. Many treatment providers recommend residential treatment following detox, but depending on the patient’s level of addiction, they may recommend outpatient or partial hospitalization treatment instead.

During the transition from detox at The Recovery Village Ridgefield, staff members review each patient’s individualized treatment plan. This review helps patients receive the type of treatment that will work best for them. Following the transition, patients begin learning about coping mechanisms for how to manage life without substances.

Getting Started With Drug Detox Near You

For people struggling with a substance use disorder, choosing to go through detox is a big step toward recovery. Deciding where to enroll for addiction treatment can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. There are treatment and detox centers across the country, but selecting the right one will depend on your specific needs.

The Recovery Village Ridgefield Detox Center
5114 NE 94th Ave
Vancouver, WA 98662
(844) 770-4306

When seeking addiction treatment, it’s important to choose an accredited rehab facility that offers comprehensive and integrated treatment. At The Recovery Village Ridgefield, a team of medical professionals will design an individualized treatment plan to address your substance use and any co-occurring disorders you may have.

If you’re looking for a detox center to start recovery for yourself or someone you know, The Recovery Village Ridgefield is here to help. Contact us today to speak to a representative about getting started on the path to recovery.


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