The idea of detox, a cleansing or purification of the body to begin a healing process, may be one of the oldest medical treatments in this history of mankind. Different cultures in different areas of the world have different traditions and ways in which the approached detox as a part of a healing ritual, but the idea of cleansing and purifying the body by ridding it of toxins and detrimental chemicals crosses civilization since before written history.


More recently, when discussing the idea of detox related to drugs and alcohol in modern society, the approach to detox was less part of a ritualistic cleansing of the body and more an indirect result of incarceration. According to NCBI (The National Center for Biotechnology Information), detox for drugs and alcohol was not looked at medically prior to the 1970s, because “public intoxication was treated as a criminal offense. People arrested for it were held in the ‘drunk tanks’ of local jails where they underwent withdrawal with little or no medical intervention.”


Around that time, societal beliefs and perceptions regarding alcoholism, addiction, and substance use disorders began to change. Two of the major events that preceded this shift in approach to addiction were the 1958 official position by the American Medical Association (AMA) that alcoholism was a disease, and the 1971 Uniform Alcoholism and Intoxication Treatment Act adopted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. This recommended that “alcoholics not be subjected to criminal prosecution because of their consumption of alcoholic beverages but rather should be afforded a continuum of treatment in order that they may lead normal lives as productive members of society.” Both major watershed moments, coupled with advancements in medicine, additional public policy changes, and the societal shift in addiction and alcoholism towards being a health issue, helped changed the approach to how those suffering from substance use disorder were able to access and receive detox services.


Beginning around this time period, a new humanitarian approach was taken towards medical detox from drugs and alcohol that was supported by medical care, medication interventions, compassion, and dignity. The “medical model” of drug and alcohol detox became the standard, that included 24 hour medical care and support from doctors and nurses that administered approved medications to help patients with the physical withdrawal symptoms that they may suffer during withdrawal.


More recently, additional holistic approaches during the withdrawal process have been included in detox protocols or offered as ancillary services in a more body-mind-spirit approach. The use of massage, acupuncture, meditation, breathwork, and other holistic approaches are more common methods to be integrated into a detox experience, rather than simply medical interventions. Additionally, diet and nutritional needs are now more taken into account than ever before, where facilities will make sure menus are both healthy and filling, but created with the detox process in mind, with specific foods that give a patient what they need as they go through withdrawal and their detox process.


Finally, the clinical necessity for ongoing support is also being woven into the fabric of the detox experience. For many years, detox facilities would operate for the sole purpose of helping a patient through withdrawal. However, as we as a society better understand that addiction is a complex, chronic illness and the need for long-term treatment and support is vital to achieve a lasting recovery, detox facilities and organizations are making sure to create for patients a comprehensive aftercare plan, so that for many patients, and especially patients with histories of chronic relapse, detox does not become a revolving door for them, but rather a first step in a long-term process of treatment and recovery.


If you or someone you know need help for addiction or co-occurring disorders, please give us a call. Innovo Detox offers the latest in evidence-based medical, psychiatric, and clinical care for those in need of detox and medical stabilization in Pennsylvania and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or a loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a detox, rehab, treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (717) 619-3260 or email our team at For more information on our company or services, please visit our website at