If you’ve been struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction and have considered entering treatment, the first step is to go through detoxification.

Detox can be a dangerous, scary, and uncomfortable process, and it’s one of the biggest reasons why people put off treatment in the first place. Because withdrawal symptoms vary from mild discomfort to seizures, it’s important to understand when you should seek medical detox versus trying to do it on your own.

What Happens During Detox?

Detox, short for detoxification, is the process or removing toxins – such as drugs or alcohol – from the body. While detoxing from drugs or alcohol, your body goes through physical withdrawal as the substances it has been dependent on exit the body.

Some people choose to self-detox at home while other enter a medical detox center. Due to the emotional and physical stress detox puts on the body, medical detox is highly recommended.

Medical detox safely manages the physical symptoms associated with drug and alcohol withdrawal. It often takes place at a medical detox center, such as an addiction treatment fascility. Medical detox involves an intake evaluation, 24-hour care by a team of medical professionals, and medications to help with withdrawal symptoms and emotional support.

Medical detox at a medical detox center is often more comfortable for those going through withdrawal because medical professionals have the experience and tools necessary to minimize discomfort.

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Dangers of Detoxing at Home

Although the thought of entering an inpatient treatment center for your drug or alcohol addiction may seem overwhelming, it’s the safest choice available to you.

While there are ways to detox at home safely, it can be incredibly dangerous depending on the severity of your addiction and what drugs you’ve been using.

When you stop using drugs or alcohol suddenly, the body reacts with a series of withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are painful, difficult to manage, and may last for weeks. Without medications or medical professionals to help you through it, the process is even harder.

Sudden drug cessation can cause hallucinations, seizures, and heart failure that may result in death. While this is rare, you never know how your body will react to detox until you’re going through it.

Additionally, if you’ve been abusing more than one substance – such as alcohol and prescription medications or alcohol and cocaine – withdrawal symptoms may be worsened or unpredictable.

By entering an addiction treatment facility for drug or alcohol detox, you’ll benefit from care that safely manages the physical withdrawal symptoms and any underlying co-occurring disorders you may have.

When a Medical Detox Center is the Best Choice

Due to the physical withdrawal symptoms and the risks involved with quitting cold turkey, detoxing at a medical detox center is always recommended.

Certain drugs require a medical detox, including alcohol, opiates (heroin, Vicodin, Percocet, etc.), and benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, etc.), as their withdrawal symptoms are considered some of the worst. However, withdrawal from any drug can be dangerous.

Medical detox is strongly recommended for those who have been unable to quit on their own, don’t have a strong support system, have other medical conditions (such as high blood pressure or heart problems), suffer from a mental illness (such as depression or anxiety), or have nowhere else to turn to.

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Types of Medical Detox That Exist

There are two types of medical detox available: inpatient and outpatient.

In an inpatient detox facility, you check into and remain in an addiction treatment facility for the entire detox process, which takes anywhere from six to 14 days depending on the substance(s) you’ve been using. In most inpatient medical detox centers, you’re under medical care 24 hours a day. An added benefit of inpatient detox is that certain medications can be prescribed to help with any physical symptoms you may experience.

Outpatient medical detox includes visiting a doctor for an assessment where they’ll take a complete medical history and conduct a physical exam to determine the best plan of action. From there, the doctor will recommend whether you can detox at home with regularly scheduled check-ins or if you should enter an inpatient program.

You Don’t Have to Do This Alone

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, you don’t have to go through it alone. Treatment is available, and the team at Orlando Recovery Center is ready to help.

We offer a medical detox program that includes a full assessment, personalized treatment plans, medical monitoring, medical therapy, individual sessions, and more.

Whether you’ve tried detoxing before with no success or this is your first time, we’ll be here to help you every step of the way. Contact us today to speak with an admissions counselor and begin getting the treatment you need. You are not alone in this journey toward recovery.


8: Medical detoxification. Retrieved September 14, 2016, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification

Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction. Retrieved September 14, 2016, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a 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 provider.