What is Medical Detox?

Medical detox is one of the first steps to alcohol and drug addiction recovery. Since there can be very uncomfortable and possibly even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, Through the Archway and other medical professionals highly recommend medical detox when quitting alcohol or drugs. It’s not only a matter of safety. A medical detox also greatly improves your chances of success at completing a program and remaining sober. If you or someone you know has a psychological and/or physical dependence to drugs or alcohol, please give Through the Archway a call, we can help. 

Defining Medical Detox

You might hear the word “detox” being used in numerous ways from cleansing a person’s body from toxic chemicals to detoxing from alcohol and drugs. When it comes to medical detox programs, the latter is what we are referring to. 

Medical detox programs help people to get rid of the toxic addictive substances that have built up in their body. A medical detox happens under the supervision of nurses, doctors and clinical staff who assess the patient’s condition hour-by-hour and day-to-day. Medications are given to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and reduce the risk of complications like seizures.

Detox medications can also help with anxiety and sleeplessness. It is important to know that, just like asthma or diabetes, addiction is a serious, chronic condition that can flare up when not managed properly. The medical detox programs help to cleanse and stabilize a person’s body before they enter into the next stage of treatment. 

Is Medical Detoxifcation Necessary?

If addiction is chronic and not curable, how do people know that a medical detox program is necessary? Well, the primary reason medical detox is often necessary is for safety. The second reason is comfort. The third reason is because it can be extremely difficult, nearly impossible for some people, to overcome a physical and/or psychological dependence to alcohol or drugs on their own. It is worth noting that in  some alcohol addiction cases, there is a chance of life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, if the person does not receive a proper medical medical detox.

Who Needs a Medically-Assisted Detox Program

Not sure if you or someone you love needs to enter a medical detoxification program? That’s okay, we can help you to figure that out. If you or someone you care about falls into the categories noted hare, then you should at least consider a medical detox to begin your treatment:


  • Used drugs and/or alcohol for a long time (a year or more)
  • Been regularly using alcohol or drugs in large amounts
  • Don’t get the same effects of alcohol and/or drugs that you used to
  • Needing to use more drugs and/or alcohol to “feel good”
  • Experiencing cravings for the substance
  • Tried to stop using alcohol and/or drugs, but realized you can’t do that without assistance


If you do find yourself in one of these situations, you’re not alone. There are many people who can help you to overcome substance abuse issues and addiction. You can start getting help today by contacting Through the Archway. 

Drugs That Usually Require Medically-Assisted Detox

There are some categories of drugs that usually should be cleansed out of the body with a medically-assisted detox program, they include:

  • Alcohol
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Opioids 
  • Non-benzodiazepines (like Ambien or Lunesta)
  • Stimulants
  • Synthetic drugs


Medically-Assisted Detox Medications

When attending a medical detoxification program, there are a range of medications which might be used to help safely and comfortably bring you through the detox process.  Some of these medications include the following:

  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone
  • Vivitrol
  • Suboxone
  • Sublocade


Length of Medical Detoxification Programs

The exact intensity and length of medically-assisted detox is going to vary based on numerous factors such as:

  • Which substance was being abused (ex. Alcohol withdrawal can occur in just hours after the last drink and withdrawal symptoms might last many days)
  • Frequency and duration of use (the more often and the longer you have been abusing the drug, the worse and longer your withdrawal symptoms are likely to be)
  • Amount of substance being abused (if you were a heavier drug and/or alcohol user, you likely will need a longer time in the medical detox program to fully cleanse your body from these substances)
  • Individualized factors (ex. Weight, body chemistry, genetic makeup, and metabolic rate)


Even though there are many factors that can affect the length of time in a medically-assisted detox program, the average is around 4-7 days. Some medications like benzodiazepines or methadone can require a lengthier than usual detox period. This is especially true if they are being used at higher doses or for a longer period of time. 

Safety of Medical Detox Programs 

When someone needs to go through withdrawal from alcohol and/or drugs, research has shown that medical detox is the most effective and safest option for cleansing their body of these substances. 

Every part of these programs is led by trained and experienced physicians and medical professionals. Since there are so many severe withdrawal symptoms which can occur such as a spike in temperature, blood pressure and heart rate, it is much safer to be supervised by medical staff during detox than to try to do it on your own.

What Comes After Detoxing 

Effective recovery strategies don’t end when the medical detox program is completed. In fact, that is just the start of recovery. Once you have finished detoxing, we highly recommend attending an addiction treatment program. This can help you to learn coping strategies, overcome trauma, deal with addiction-related issues and find out more about the underlying issues relating to your addiction. 

Finding the Best Medical Detox Program 

If you are in need of a medical detox program and a path forward into recovery afterwards, Through the Archway can help. We are closely affiliated with some of the best programs in the country which provide medical detox as well as partial-hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment and more. If you or someone you love needs help, don’t let another day go by. Call Through the Archway at (844) 620-1546 and we’ll help you begin to turn things in the right direction. 



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