Understand exactly what inpatient detox entails including how long the program is, what happens during detox, and the difference between inpatient and outpatient detox programs.

Detox is often the first step in the continuum of care for addiction treatment. When you or someone you care for is seeking rehab for substance abuse, you may have questions about what inpatient detox involves. Here we review the nature of the detox process, inpatient treatment, and other factors to consider in this path of recovery.

Why Inpatient Detox?

Inpatient detox centers are facilities where patients live while they pursue the detox process. These residential patients enjoy 24-hour care and are surrounded by medical staff who can attend to any urgent health needs immediately.

Whether it’s with alcohol, prescription medication or other drugs, ongoing substance abuse can create a physical addiction. The detox process involves managing withdrawal and other complications as your body rids itself of the substance it has come to depend on to feel normal. Depending on the nature of the addiction, common withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Racing or irregular heartbeat

While long-term recovery involves addressing the behaviors and environmental factors behind addiction, the focus of detox is on managing the short-term cleansing of the system. Safe, approved medications administered by professionals can minimize these complications.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Detox

Some facilities offer outpatient detox programs. While outpatient care is an option for some, it is not generally recommended for those suffering from severe addiction, long-term abuse, or other health complications. Whether to choose inpatient or outpatient detox will depend on your particular medical circumstances.

How Does Inpatient Detox Take?

The time for the detox process varies from person to person. While it is common for detox to take anywhere from a few days to two weeks, detox timeframes will vary depending on the recovering person’s unique circumstances.

Some factors that may affect the length of detox include:

  • The substance the patient is detoxing from
  • Length and consistency of abuse
  • Amount of substance recently consumed
  • The severity of withdrawal symptoms
  • Degree of medical assistance required
  • Co-occurring disorders

What Happens During Inpatient Detox?

Withdrawal from drug or alcohol addiction can cause varying degrees of physical symptoms. Inpatient detox often includes medically assisted detox to minimize withdrawal issues and ensure a detox process takes place in safety and comfort.

Medically assisted detox is customized to the needs of the patient. Unlike natural detox, treatment is overseen by expert medical professionals and involves the use of medication to minimize the often severe symptoms of withdraw

While detox addresses the immediate cleansing of the body, long-term recovery requires addressing factors beyond physical dependence. That is why individual counseling, group therapy or other therapeutic measures are often introduced during detox.

These programs are designed to address mental well-being and provide the tools to manage addictive impulses and triggers for relapse. These are typically longer-term or ongoing programs that extend beyond inpatient treatment. The goal is that, as physical symptoms diminish, the focus turns to urges to use and controlling behavioral factors.

Next Steps

If you’ve taken the step to pursue detox for your substance addiction, it is important to see the process through. Risks will vary by individual, but detoxification is a medical process that can have significant effects on your body if not properly managed. We encourage you to follow the direction of your trained recovery partners to ensure your safe recovery.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.