Medical detoxification, or medical detox, is an essential first step in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. Since alcohol withdrawal is life-threatening when severe, medical alcohol detox is an absolute necessity. Medical drug detox is indicated for all individuals who have shown signs of physical and psychological dependence on a substance.
If you believe that you have a problem with drug or alcohol use, a medical detox program can help you secure a healthier future. The Recovery Village’s medical detox program provides a foundation upon which to build new and healthy habits. No matter where you choose to initiate your recovery path, learning about the characteristics of detoxification programs allows you to find the program that best fits your needs.
Article at a Glance:
- Medical detox is the first step in recovering from an addiction.
- Detoxing involves ridding the body of toxic and addictive substances under medical supervision.
- Many people seek detox when they are at risk of withdrawal symptoms from drugs or alcohol.
- Various medications are used during detox to decrease cravings and alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
- Medical detox often lasts for five to seven days.
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What Is Medical Detox?
You may hear the term “detox” used in a familiar way to describe cleansing the body of unhealthy food. But what is medical detox, and how does it differ from our familiar understanding of the term?
Medical detox refers to ridding the body of toxic addictive substances under the supervision of a team of licensed medical professionals. This team is usually headed by a physician and consists of nurses, clinical staff and therapists. Some facilities utilize advanced practice staff like nurse practitioners or physician assistants to deliver medical care during detoxification.
Like diabetes, asthma or rheumatoid arthritis, addiction is a chronic condition that flares up occasionally but can be managed. Medical detoxification plays a similar role in addiction that a hospital emergency department plays in the management of long-term medical conditions. Similar to an ER visit for an asthma attack, medical detox for addiction provides stabilization for an acute flare-up of a chronic condition, but by itself does not change the long-term course of the condition.
For most people who seek inpatient or residential drug and alcohol treatment, medical detoxification is the first priority, and detox occurs at the beginning of treatment. While detox by itself is not considered addiction treatment, those who complete medical detox are more likely to stay in treatment longer and have longer stretches of sobriety.