Medical Detox: What Can I Expect?

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Medical detoxification from drugs or alcohol can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Choosing a medically assisted detox can reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms, mitigate cravings, and minimize the likelihood of relapse derailing early recovery. Read on to learn more about detox treatment and the ongoing recovery process.

What Is Medical Detox?

Medical detox, also known as medically managed withdrawal, is a professional detoxification program that uses a combination of medical interventions, including medications and therapies, to safely manage the withdrawal symptoms associated with discontinuing substance use.

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The main aim of medical detox is to mitigate the physical risks posed when someone who is dependent on drugs or alcohol discontinues use. In the case of alcohol or opioid withdrawal, risks can be life-threatening. Where unsupervised detox involves the body naturally eliminating substances over time, medical detox provides a structured and supervised environment, prioritizing safety and comfort throughout the withdrawal process.

Detox, then, focuses on stabilizing a person, reducing withdrawal symptoms, averting potential complications, and preparing someone for ongoing care. Detoxification addresses the issue of physical drug or alcohol dependence, with treatment usually required to deal with the psychological component of substance abuse.

image representing what is medical detox

What Is Medical Detox Like?

Most people who are dependent on addictive substances benefit from detoxification treatment. Here’s what to expect from the process.


The detox process begins with a thorough assessment to determine the individual’s specific needs, substance use history, and any co-occurring conditions. This evaluation helps in the creation of a personalized detox plan.

Supervision and safety

Throughout the detox process, individuals are closely monitored by medical professionals to ensure their safety. Vital signs are checked regularly, and continuous medical care addresses any complications that arise during withdrawal.

Medication management

To reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and minimize cravings, the treatment team may administer medications. The type and dosage of medication depends on the substance from which the person is detoxing and their overall health.

Support and comfort

Support from detox staff can extend beyond medical interventions. Comfort measures like a quiet environment, nutritious meals, hydration, and emotional reassurance help ease the process of medical detox.

Preparation for further treatment

Medical detox is not a standalone treatment for addiction, but rather the preliminary phase of a comprehensive recovery plan. During detox, people are introduced to the next steps in their treatment journey, which may include inpatient rehab (residential rehab), outpatient therapy, and peer support groups.

Types of Detox Medication

Many people detoxing from drugs or alcohol find that medications can streamline the process. These medications are prescribed on an individual basis and only with approval from a healthcare professional. Key medications often utilized in medical detox include:

  • Methadone: Methadone has been used to mitigate opioid withdrawal since the 1950s. Treatment facilities prescribing methadone to treat opioid addiction require federal licensing due to its classification as an opioid and the risks associated with the medication. Controlled use under medical supervision can help in easing withdrawal.
  • Naltrexone: Naltrexone has FDA approval for treating opioid and alcohol use disorders. The medication blocks the rewarding effects of opioids or alcohol. This medication should not be used by those who have used opioids in the previous week as it can trigger opioid withdrawal. Vivitrol is an injectable version of naltrexone that lasts for one month, removing the barrier of daily dosing.
  • Buprenorphine: Buprenorphine is available in many different formulations. This partial opioid agonist has a lower risk of overdose and addiction than methadone. Suboxone is a combination medication that contains both buprenorphine and naloxone. Sublocade is a newer long-acting injectable form of buprenorphine.
  • Benzodiazepines: Benzos are commonly administered during medical detox for alcohol withdrawal. This class of medication can control seizures, prevent anxiety, and mitigate severe withdrawal symptoms.

These medications play an important role in the detox phase, streamlining the transition to ongoing addiction treatment and recovery efforts.

How Long Do Detoxification Programs Last?

Most detox programs last for about 5 to 7 days. The duration may vary depending on the following variables:

  • Type of substance: The specific substance abused significantly impacts the nature of the withdrawal experience.
  • Scope and duration of use: The development of physical dependence is more likely with prolonged use of a substance. Regular and frequent usage of opioids or benzos, for instance, can potentially trigger dependence within 6 to 8 weeks.
  • Amount of substance consumed: The extent of substance use also plays a role in the duration of detox.
  • Personal factors: Body chemistry, metabolic rate, weight, and genetics can all influence the manifestation and duration of withdrawal symptoms.
inside a room at california detox showing detoxification treatment

Get a Luxury Medical Detox at California Detox

Withdrawing from addictive substances can be challenging and uncomfortable. Unsupervised detox is inadvisable and potentially dangerous, so streamline the process by engaging with supervised medical detox at California Detox.

When you begin your recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism at our luxury rehab in Laguna Beach, California, you can access FDA-approved medications and 24/7 clinical and emotional care to reduce the intensity of withdrawal. while detox addresses physical dependence on drugs or alcohol, ongoing treatment is required to deal with the psychological side of addiction.

Inpatient treatment programs at California Detox deliver individualized plans that include:

  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Motivational therapies
  • Talk therapies (CBT or DBT)
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • One-to-one counseling
  • Holistic interventions
  • Aftercare and support

Call California Detox at 949.694.8305 for help from detox to discharge and beyond.


Detoxification treatment is a medically supervised process designed to manage the acute symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications. This treatment often serves as the first step in the recovery process.
Detox is intended to help people safely overcome physical dependence on addictive substances, minimizing the physical and psychological discomfort associated with discontinuing substance use. It provides a stable and supportive environment for beginning the recovery process, ensuring that the person’s health and safety are prioritized throughout.


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