Drug Detox: Process, Types and Benefits

Last Updated: January 22, 2024

What Is Drug Detoxification?

Drug detox is like hitting a reset button for yourself after substance use. Essentially, it is the process of allowing the body to rid itself of harmful substances — especially after excessive or prolonged drug use. Drug detox is the first step toward a happier, healthier, drug-free life. Once your body is rid of whatever drug has plagued your life, you can begin rehabilitation and enter into lifelong recovery.

While drug detox is fundamentally ridding one’s body of a harmful substance, the term often refers to professional treatment like medical detox. In medical drug detox, the goal is still to rid your body of drugs. However, doctors and medical professionals also provide you with monitoring, treatment for symptoms and sometimes medication-assisted treatment to help you overcome withdrawal symptoms as comfortably and safely as possible. 

Several variables can impact the severity and difficulty of the drug detox process:

  • Type of drug use: Some drugs are more addictive than others, and some drugs result in more severe withdrawal symptoms than others.
  • Duration of use: The longer your body has been used to having a substance, the longer and more severe the drug detox process may be.
  • Dosage: If your body has built up a tolerance and your body is accustomed to having relatively high doses of a drug, then the detox process will be more difficult than if you had a more limited intake. 
  • Overall health and wellness: Drug misuse will have already detracted from your overall well-being, but underlying medical conditions, mental health concerns or other issues can all impact the drug detox process.
  • Support available: The more support you have, the more successful your drug detox process will be. Drug detox is most successful in a professional environment where you can receive care to fit your unique needs.

Who Needs Drug Detox?

Anyone who is struggling with drug misuse or drug addiction can benefit from drug detox. In fact, it is never too soon to try to rid your body — and your life — of that substance that keeps you coming back for more and more. If you’ve tried to quit before but have been unsuccessful, then drug detox in a professional setting may help you achieve success.

  • Do you keep using drugs to avoid difficult withdrawal symptoms?
  • Have you been using drugs for a long time or in large doses?
  • Are you in an environment that just doesn’t promote recovery?

If any of these are true of you, then you may want to consider medical detox in a professional setting. At Orlando Recovery Center, you’ll receive full care and treatment for all the difficulties you’re bound to face during drug detox. Trying to quit cold turkey on your own is never a good idea, and at-home detox — even with input from your doctor — can prove difficult and dangerous. It is always advisable to seek professional help before attempting to detox from drugs

Types of Drug Detox

There are varying levels of drug detox, from fully professional inpatient detox down to natural detox at home. Each has its own benefits. But remember that someone trying to quit cold turkey alone is never a good idea. You should always seek professional help before you attempt to detox from drugs. 

Inpatient Detox

An inpatient detox provides the highest level of care, comfort and safety to complete the drug detox process. During inpatient detox, patients have access to medical care 24/7. Doctors and therapists are available to patients to help them overcome physical and emotional challenges during detox. 

Inpatient detox is residential treatment, so the patient must temporarily live on-site. While uprooting your life may sound unpleasant, the truth is that the robust care and medical treatment you receive are worth the disruption to your daily life. In fact, that disruption in your routine and removal from your environment may be exactly what you need to get sober and stay sober. Inpatient drug detox will typically last three to ten days, after which the patient should be ready for the next step in treatment. 

Outpatient Drug Detox

Patients whose drug addiction might be characterized as a mild substance use disorder may be able to successfully detox with outpatient help. Unlike inpatient detox, patients do not reside at the facility. For this reason, they can maintain some routines and involvement in their home life. During outpatient detoxification, patients still receive expert medical care and therapy. However, they do not have round-the-clock access to care and treatment. 

Anyone who chooses outpatient drug detox must be completely willing to take responsibility for their own sobriety when they are not at appointments. If that sounds like a challenge in your current environment, going into inpatient detox first may be worthwhile. 

Natural Drug Detox

Some people may choose to detox from drugs at home without any medical assistance or other professional help. While the drive to detox and take control of your life is admirable, detoxing at home is difficult and can even prove dangerous. If you do choose to detox at home, you should still consult with a medical professional before embarking on detox. 

Withdrawal symptoms can hit hard. If you don’t have a proper support system in place, you may be left incapacitated and unable to call for help. While at-home detox is possible, for your safety, it isn’t advisable.

The Drug Detoxification Process

Before the drug detoxification process can begin, a user must be willing to, or in some cases, be mandated to, undergo treatment. Sometimes, this begins with an intervention held by the user’s loved ones. Other times, this begins with a legal sentence that includes drug detoxification and rehabilitation. 

Once the user is ready to begin the detoxification process, there are three main steps to detoxification. These three steps include:


The evaluation step takes place as soon as a patient begins the drug detoxification process. During this evaluation period, a user will be tested so that the professionals working with the user are aware of any substances currently in the user’s system. This time will also allow clinicians to assess whether or not the user has any co-occurring issues. Identifying other issues, like mental illness, will help medical professionals thoroughly address the patient’s drug addiction. Approximately 17 million  people in the United States suffering from mental illness also struggle with substance abuse, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).


Stabilization is the process of drug detoxification that helps to guide the patient away from the addictive substance. This might involve tapering off the drug methodically, perhaps initiating medication that will be conducive to recovery, and handling the symptoms of withdrawal, which can be incredibly severe in some patients. This process can be intensive, and its success hinges on the presence and guidance of medical professionals.

Guiding the Patient into Treatment

The detoxification process’s final step helps the person prepare for treatment and recovery. Detoxing the body of the addictive substance is only the beginning of a drug treatment program. For a user to achieve a full recovery, the patient must address the psychological factors of addiction alongside a licensed professional. At Orlando Recovery Center Drug and Alcohol Rehab, we emphasize program completion. Often, a patient will enroll in our drug rehabilitation program after the drug detoxification process is complete.

Benefits of Drug Detox

Drug detox isn’t easy, but when you make that decision to get clean, you’re on the cusp of reaping some serious benefits to your health, wellness and overall well-being. If you choose to seek professional support for your drug detox, then you are setting yourself up for long-term success.

Physical Benefits

Professional detox support will help you make it through the most challenging phases of withdrawal with resources like:

  • Medical treatment for withdrawal symptoms
  • Support for severe cravings
  • Medication-assisted treatment (in some cases) to cope with withdrawal
  • Proper nutrition, which is essential for recovery
  • 24/7 monitoring to maximize your recovery

Mental Health Benefits

In addition to the physical health benefits, professional drug detox supports your emotional well-being too, including:

  • Psychiatrists to help you with any co-occurring disorders
  • Therapists to help you address the underlying causes of your addiction
  • Space away from your normal environment where you may encounter triggers

Social Benefits

A medical detox can also offer you important social benefits like:

  • Lifelong friends for support and accountability
  • Community that supports and encourages your recovery
  • A “home away from home” where you can be yourself around soon-to-be friends who understand your struggle

Challenges to Drug Detox

While there are innumerable benefits to drug detox, the process is not without its challenges. One of the reasons it is crucial to find support and even professional medical help is that detoxing from a substance you have depended on for so long can be a harrowing journey.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms can be severe and even fatal. Life-threatening symptoms like seizures can result in severe injury or even death. Alcohol, benzodiazepines and opioids can often cause the most severe withdrawal symptoms. However, any drug can be difficult to detox from. Professional medical detox can help see you through the most acute phase of withdrawal and put you in a position to stave off cravings even after withdrawal is finished. 

Emotional and Psychological Difficulties

Cravings are a serious challenge during drug detox. On top of the overwhelming urge to find a fix, you may experience emotional difficulties that include:

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Mental fog

These symptoms can be difficult enough to face on their own. But when they are combined with seemingly irresistible cravings and physical challenges, withdrawal can feel unbearable. 

If you or a loved one is considering drug detox, we have Recovery Advocates standing by to help you with tools and resources. 

Common Questions about Drug Detox

Drug detox can be a complicated subject because there are a lot of variables. From an individual’s own health and wellness to the specifics of substance misuse, drug detox can look different for everyone. We encourage you to speak to a Recovery Advocate about your specific situation to access resources designed just for you.

How Long Does Drug Detox Last?

Drug detox in a medical setting usually lasts three to ten days, with most patients completing medically supervised drug detox in six to nine days. Many factors, including the substance misused, severity of withdrawal symptoms and a patient’s overall health and wellness, impact the duration of drug detox.

Can I Just Detox at Home?

It is possible to detox from drugs on your own at home, but self-detox is never recommended. At a minimum, you should speak with a healthcare professional about your desire to detox. From there, you can access resources and tools to improve the chances of success for your at-home detox.

Can I Detox from Drugs During Pregnancy?

Yes, for your own health and the health of your baby, you can and should detox from drugs during pregnancy. Do not try to detox on your own. Attempting to detox on your own at home can jeopardize your life and the life of your unborn child. Seek professional help and medical care as soon as you are able. 

What Is Rapid Detox?

Rapid detox combines medications and anesthesia to replace and remove drugs from the body as quickly as possible. Rapid and ultra-rapid detox is often prohibitively expensive, and it can result in serious consequences. 

Drug Detox at Orlando Recovery Center

Orlando Recovery Center offers an inpatient medical facility that specializes in drug detoxification. We provide 24-hour medical care, so patients detoxing at our facility are never alone. Our patients receive around-the-clock care from professionals trained specifically in drug detoxification.

With licensing from DCF, Orlando Recovery Center offers the latest in drug detoxification with methods that have been proven to work. Our care is based on current research that considers each patient’s needs and concerns. Our facility provides everything our patients need during their detox — from food to counseling to recreational options. We accept most types of insurance, so you or your loved one can focus all your energy toward a successful detoxification process.

Patient-Focused Care

We evaluate our patients as individuals. Because each person is different, with their own background, context and relationship with addiction, each individual case of drug addiction is different, too. We help patients detox by evaluating their specific addiction, helping to separate their bodies from the substance and assess the type of further treatment that will be needed to achieve a full recovery.

We work with our patients to harness support from their friends, family and community while guiding them in a direction that yields physical, mental and emotional health. Our staff members are experienced in supervising drug detoxification and monitor our patients closely for the most effective detox results.

Life After Drug Detox

Drug addiction has a way of leaving addicts feeling hopeless and helpless, but there is hope in effective recovery services. One of the main obstacles standing between a user and recovery is physical dependence. At Orlando Recovery Center Drug and Alcohol Rehab, we help our patients overcome this difficult hurdle and guide them in a direction that will yield a fulfilling and drug-free life. We aim to liberate our patients from the imprisonment of drug addiction and steer them toward a healthy, balanced life.

Contact us today if you want to learn more about Orlando Recovery Center and our treatment process. We’d be happy to talk you through our approach to care, the methods we employ, the expertise of our staff members and anything else you’d like to know.

Substance abuse and addiction are prevalent in society.

Across the country, 22 million people were abusing illicit substances in 2010, per The Chart, CNN. Alcoholism and alcohol-associated problems were a problem for an astounding 17 million Americans that same year, per eMedicineHealth. If you suspect addiction in yourself, the best gift you can give yourself is a second chance, and it starts with detox.

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