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Substance addiction is a serious disease that could lead to overdose or death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed over 90,000 drug-related overdose deaths occurred in the U.S. in 2020. If an overdose or withdrawal is the case, the first line of defense is detoxifying the blood to ease physical and psychological symptoms. This process is called medical detoxification.

Medical detoxification is the first step in the addiction recovery process. While it doesn’t treat any underlying cause of addiction, it is as paramount as the treatment methods. With the drugs out of the system, the doctors can determine how to begin proper treatment after assessment. Medically assisted detox is often misunderstood as regular detoxification. This blog aims to correct this misconception and help you understand further what to expect from this process.

What is the Medical Detox Process?

Medically assisted detox is a process of flushing toxins from the body of a person with alcohol and drug addiction under medical supervision. Medical supervision is usually headed by a physician or a highly skilled nurse.

Medical detoxification manages withdrawal symptoms following cessation to reduce dependency. This process is performed in a serene environment, like rehab, to enable health professionals to perform their job. Medical detox is usually accompanied by treatment methods like evidence-based therapy, medication, and support to help the patient overcome addiction.

Medical detox differs from the typical or conventional detox carried out at home. The latter is performed under no medical supervision, which could be dangerous. It is known as quitting cold turkey.

Detoxing at home can lead to complicated issues like seizures. Worse, the person may end up relapsing. Therefore, we advise against this method. You can find several residential or outpatient detoxification programs that can help you prevent these complications. So avoid detoxifying on your own.

Why Medical Detoxification?

Using drugs and alcohol for long leads to tolerance. You become used to the substance that you’ll need more to achieve the same effects. Eventually, this leads to dependence, and the body won’t function without drugs or alcohol.

The body craves the substance when it doesn’t get them. If you still refuse to consume, the body reacts negatively; not just your body, but your behavior changes. You start to experience withdrawal symptoms, which makes it complicated to abstain from the substance. With medical detox, the body can relearn to operate in the substance’s absence. The process reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms until there are no more.

How Long Does Medically Assisted Detox Take?

The duration of medical detox depends on the type of substance consumed, the quantity taken, the method employed (snorting or injecting), and the longevity of use. Other factors include; underlying health conditions, family history, and the resources available at the rehab facility.

The type of substance consumed fundamentally determines the nature of withdrawal symptoms. For example, alcohol withdrawal symptoms last a few hours after the last drink, and they may need substitute medication to manage the symptoms. It may last a week. Benzodiazepines may need a longer detox timeline; it could take two to three weeks.

The longer and more frequent a person uses a substance, the higher the physical dependency. For opioids, psychical dependence may develop in eight weeks with frequent use. And if the person takes in high doses, they will develop faster tolerance. Typically, medical detox lasts a week or two at most.

The detoxification steps include the following;


Evaluation involves assessing the individual for a medical condition or any underlying cause of the addiction. The doctor performs blood tests, urine tests, and other examinations to ascertain the psychological and physical state. The information provided will determine the treatment plan.


This is the second stage of medical detoxification. This involves discontinuing substance use and stabilizing the patient. The physician may administer medications like methadone and buprenorphine to ease withdrawal.


It is the final detox step and a preparatory stage for other treatment methods. Here, the physician enlightens the patient about therapy and support groups. They make them understand that detox is just the beginning of the treatment process and that complete treatment guarantees long-term sobriety.

BNI Offers Medically Assisted Detox

Substance detoxification can be a painful process. That’s why a medical professional must do it in a safe environment. A medically supervised detoxification manages side effects of withdrawal, such as mood swings and nausea, while ensuring complete recovery.

BNI Treatment Centers offers inpatient and outpatient detox rehab programs. Not only do we ensure safe detoxification, but we can manage recurring triggers and ensure you don’t relapse. We help our patients develop coping techniques to weather cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Contact us to start your medically assisted detox today!

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