The first step to addiction recovery is often medical detox. To go through treatment, clients need to rid their bodies of all traces of drugs and alcohol, which happens in detox. During detox, people may experience psychological and physical discomfort and dangerous withdrawal symptoms that could potentially cause life-threatening situations.

Medical detoxification is typically recommended for people beginning recovery because it allows 24-hour monitoring and access to a medical team in case of a medical emergency. Medical detox can occur at a hospital, detox center or an addiction treatment facility so that clients can be monitored and assisted with any potentially dangerous side effects.

Commonly Asked Questions About Medical Detox

  • Why is medical detox a safer option?

    Detoxing at home is not a safe detox, and not recommended for people who are trying to begin addiction treatment. Not only is it dangerous, especially when detoxing from alcohol and opioids, but there are several other disadvantages of detoxing at home that include: 

    • Easy access to drugs to tempt setbacks 
    • Familiar surroundings and people to trigger substance use 
    • Stressful family, work or home situations may hinder treatment 
    • No treatment for potential co-occurring disorders 
    • No medical supervision in case of a medical emergency during withdrawal 
    • No access to medications that may ease discomfort during withdrawal 
    • Severe withdrawal symptoms may cause someone to miss work, endangering employment

  • What level of supervision is involved?

    During a medically supervised detox, someone may be at a hospital, detox center or addiction treatment facility where medical staff is present. The medical team typically monitors someone going through detox around the clock to avoid medical emergencies from occurring and easing discomfort during withdrawal.

  • How long does medical detox last?

    The entire medical detoxification process can last from days to weeks and up to several months to entirely rid the body of severe cravings. The exact period depends on the person who is detoxing. Some factors that may affect the duration of medical detox include: 

    • Which substances were used 
    • How many different substances were used 
    • The frequency of substance use 
    • The amount or dose that was used 
    • The presence of diagnosed or underlying co-occurring disorders 
    • The client’s medical history, age and gender

  • What types of medication will I be given?

    There are several types of medications that are used during the process of addiction treatment. During medical detox, whether detox medications are used and what type can vary depending on the substance that the client is detoxing from. Medications may also be prescribed to treat diagnosed or underlying co-occurring disorders.

  • Does insurance cover medical detox?

    While there are facilities across the country that offer free detox, not everyone qualifies. Whether your insurance covers medical detox will likely depend on your insurance company and policy. You can use this insurance calculator to estimate the possible cost of medical detox.

  • What kinds of drugs require medical detox?

    People who should enroll in a medical detox program are heavily using or have an addiction to: 

    The drugs listed are some of the more commonly used substances, but people who have become reliant on any drug to the point that’s disrupting their life can benefit from medical detox.

  • What are the benefits of a medical detox program?

    In addition to being consistently monitored by medical professionals, some other advantages of medical detox include: 

    • Highest level of care and therapy 
    • Access to medications that can ease discomfort 
    • Removal from stressful situations or surrounding that may trigger substance use

Additional Medical Detox FAQs