What is Medical Detox?

What is Medical Detox? How is it different from drug or alcohol detox?

Detox is a process of removing substances from the body. Because drug addiction and alcohol dependency/addiction treatment rely on detox to prepare for treatment, various forms of detox are marketed (including rapid detox, medical detox, ultra-rapid detox, etc).

(28 Jul '16, 17:05) admin ♦♦


Addiction Treatment

Medical detox is the first (usually required) step for substance abuse addiction treatment.


Drug Treatment

Before rehab or other forms of treatment for dug addiction can begin, a medical detox is usually required to eliminate the physical drug dependency under medical supervision.


Alcohol Treatment

Because a sudden stop can be dangerous and even life-threatening for an individual with serious alcohol dependency, a medical detox is often recommended and sometimes required.

From the web:

"Medical detox is a process of helping someone stop taking a drug or alcohol (or a collection of drugs, or a combination of drugs and alcohol) while supervising them medically for safety, and (usually) assisting them with comfort-enhancing methods (usually carefully controlled doses of drugs, which are later removed gradually via a tapering process). The best medical detox centers have on-site nursing staff, careful medical monitoring of comfort levels, symptoms, and blood chemistry, and support staff who understand fully what someone experiences when withdrawing from addicting drugs or alcohol."


"In order to withdraw from certain addictive substances safely, it may be preferable and in some cases necessary to undergo medically supervised detoxification in a hospital or residential treatment center that has a detoxification unit"

I agree, except most hospital "detox units" are in the psych ward, where I would not want to be going through withdrawal. Private stand-alone detox centers take a wholly different approach, trying to provide as comfortable and safe-feeling an environment as possible. Much better to go through detox in a comfortable setting, than a psych ward, if you ask me.

Medical Detox is detox from drugs or alcohol under medical supervision. Since drugs used to make you comfortable while goign through withdrawal (subutex, suboxone, xanax, etc) can only be given by medical people (usually nurses), that means any detox that is not an honest medical detox center is a bad choice! You want a detox center that has nurses on staff all the time.... not just during the day or on-call to drive over when needed.

Also beware "ultra rapid" detox or "rapid detox" which is sometimes marketed as medical detox. Sure it is as medical as detox can get, but that's because they will actually give you a blood transfusion or at least a continuous IV needle, with full anesthesia (putting you under) which is a risky procedure. That's why "rapid detox" is strictly regulated (only Doctors can do that).. much more than medical detox (which is usually trained addiction treatment nurses supervised by a physician).


answered 28 Jul '16, 17:13

CleanAndSober's gravatar image

accept rate: 6%

Medical Detox is detox with medical supervision. If it says "detox" or is just a "detox center" it means they either don't know if there will be medical supervision, or they don't have medical supervision.

Example - most people don't know that a lot of treatment programs don't have medical detox, because medical detox is expensive and requires nurses, strict regulated protocols, laws, regulations, etc. So they don't have it, and instead send you to whatever detox center they make a deal with when you are signing on. Sign up for treatment, and then find out that first then are sending you to some other place for detox. Only after you are certified as clean by that detox place will they allow you to check into the treatment program you actually decided to trust with your life.

I wish they would disclose this up front... I definitely would not want to be sent to a low quality detox like you get in prison (example), at the start of my trying to get clean/ sober.

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Asked: 28 Jul '16, 16:56

Seen: 4,099 times

Last updated: 28 Jul '16, 17:26