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What Is Medical Detox? | Q&A

What does Medical Detox mean?

Medical detox refers to ridding the body of toxic addictive substances and safely managing physical symptoms of withdrawal after a patient discontinued using drugs and/or alcohol 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. 

For a substance abuse treatment center to be licensed and certified to perform medical detoxification, the first step of the rehabilitation process, the center must have a licensed and practicing physician on staff. Our medical director oversees all day-to-day operations at Daylight Recovery Center. 

Under the guidance of our medical director, our team of licensed medical professionals follows each custom treatment plan created for each patient’s specific needs. Patients are at the highest risk for complications associated with his/her drug or alcohol abuse during this time. Due to the increased risk, patients are most closely monitored while undergoing medical detox. 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.

When do you need Medical Detox?

If you need alcohol for your body to feel normal, then you likely need help. Getting through detox isn’t just a matter of willpower, and stopping “cold turkey” without at least medical help is never recommended. In some cases, withdrawal can put your life at risk. Even when it’s not as serious, it’s still a big challenge.

In addition to the physical illness and confusion, there is often an emotional element of fear and desperation as a person comes to grips with the physical reality of their addiction and the necessity of getting sober. Treatment should always start with medically supervised detox or the professional treatment of withdrawal symptoms and be followed by a structured plan of therapy to treat the underlying causes of addiction.

How long does it take? 

When people talk about detox, they’re typically referring to one of two things: the act of detoxing from a substance or a detox treatment program. Detoxing from drugs or alcohol involves clearing the body of substances and managing any withdrawal symptoms that occur. The entire process may take anywhere from a few days to several months. For instance, alcohol leaves the body after a few days but detoxing from cravings may take much longer. How long detox takes depends on a number of factors, including:

  • Which substance was abused
  • If multiple substances were abused
  • How often the user abused the substance
  • How much of the substance the user took

In most cases, medical detox lasts for five to seven days.

What should you expect during your time at a treatment facility? 

Entering a detox facility is a person’s first and most important step in their addiction treatment process. During the detoxification process an individual will go through a physical and mental withdrawal from drugs and or alcohol. Symptoms vary depending on the individual, what substance(s) are being abused and the duration and amount of drug and/ or alcohol use. 

For Patients experiencing dependence on opiates, there will be a wide array of withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms include nausea, fatigue, restlessness, diarrhea, insomnia, achy bones, dehydration and cold sweats. These physical symptoms are often accompanied by psychological symptoms including depression, anxiety, psychosis, guilt, shame, irritability and remorse. To manage these severe side effects patients will be medically evaluated and placed on a protocol of medications which are tailored to the client’s specific needs.

At Daylight Recovery Center , we also provide Medication Assisted Treatment (M.A.T.) combined with traditional therapy. M.A.T. is scientifically proven to be highly effective to those with a history of chronic relapse on opiates. M.A.T. is also proven to decrease patient risk of fatal opioid overdose.

Each patient will have a medication protocol which will provide comfort during this critical time. Beyond each person having a personalized medication protocol, they will be monitored 24/7 by our licensed, experienced and well-trained medical staff.

What do you do next? 

After discharge from a primary treatment program, a recovering addict needs to find long-term treatment to stay on track. It takes a little time to get back to where you were before your addiction. For people in recovery, life after rehab should be a time of continued progress toward long-lasting sobriety. 

Completing rehab is a big step, but continuing support is necessary to avoid relapse. After rehab, there are several great options for continuing support, all of which encourage a healthy lifestyle. Recovery happens gradually, day by day, step by step. But every moment of it is worthwhile. 

Life after addiction is the stage of recovery where people truly find themselves. It is the stage in which they learn how to live – eat, sleep, work, socialize, learn – without the dark cloud of addiction over their heads.

How do you ensure Medical Detox is successful? 

While researchers do their part to come up with new therapies and new treatment approaches for addiction, and doctors do their part to provide the proper care at the proper time, there are some things that addicted people can do to ensure that they have the best possible chance of success in their addiction treatment programs.  

Research suggests most relapses occur in the first six months after treatment. By understanding your triggers and creating a plan, you can better guard yourself against the coming difficulties. 

  1. Get the help as soon as you realize you need it. Do not wait. 
  2. Choose a treatment plan that treats the entire person. 
  3. Provide feedback about your experience with the team at your facility. Creating a treatment plan that works for YOU is the most important goal. 
  4. Make a commitment to learn and retain the knowledge taught during your treatment.
  5. Stay in treatment. The entire time.
  6. Build a support system. 
  7. Use support groups. 
  8. Don’t forget that abstinence is key.
  9. Create a relapse prevention plan. 
  10. Work on your therapy for life. 

Is Medical Detox safe?

The detox period is a fragile time where each individual will experience intense feelings of discomfort. Detoxification is draining emotionally as well as physically. At Daylight Recovery Center and Recovery Center we believe in treating all aspects of the individual- mind, body and soul. During detox, not only will the individual have medical care, but also therapy to manage the unstable emotions that come from the withdrawal process.

There are three main reasons why detoxing alone is not a good idea:

  1. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe
  2. Emotional support and counseling are integral to the foundation for recovery
  3. Relapse is more likely among people who try to do the process alone

How do you support someone through Medical Detox? 

A support person succeeds by remaining positive and calm and creating a safe atmosphere in the home. The person who can help the most is the one who knows the addicted individual and has done a bit of preparation. When someone you care about is living with addiction, there will always be obstacles to overcome. Not every situation will have clear answers. Some choices will be hard to make. Still others will have ultimatums that are hard to keep. 


“It’s not about catching them when they fall. Rather, it’s about reaching out a hand to them so they can get back up.”

Change is gradual and may have ups and downs. A multi-year study of people with addiction showed that only about a third of recovering individuals who had been sober for less than a year remained abstinent. That means 2 out of 3 recovering addicts will likely relapse within their first year of recovery. As time goes on in sobriety, the chances for relapse drops, and relapses are not an indication of failure. Instead, they are a sign that the method of treatment needs to be changed.

Medical Detox with Daylight Recovery Center

The brain and the body don’t always move at the same speed. That’s especially true when an addiction is in play.If you’re considering inpatient detox for yourself or a loved one, you probably have lots of questions about the process. Teams involved in medical detox can smooth the road to rehab by suggesting good programs, ensuring enrollment, and otherwise making sure that the person does the work required for long-term sobriety.

At Daylight Recovery Center we provide inpatient care for drug and alcohol addiction. We also provide detoxification services to help you start the process on the right foot. While following all of the tips above can help you get the most out of rehab, choosing the right facility might be the most important step you can take to ensure your success. We’d like to help you determine if Daylight Recovery Center is the right place for your recovery journey to begin. Please call us today to find out more about our programs and how we can help you.

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If you or a loved one are suffering with drug abuse or alcohol addiction, reach out to Flyland Recovery Network for addiction help.

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