The term “detox” is often used incorrectly or inaccurately when discussing addiction. Many people addicted to drugs and alcohol use the term “detox” when they are actually referring to withdrawals or withdrawal symptoms. Someone may say “I detoxed off heroin” or “I need to detox from alcohol” when they are in fact referring to the withdrawal process. This is the case because detox as a concept generally refers to cleansing the body. It is why people use it for everyday situations as well, such as “I’m detoxing from sugar.”

So sometimes when a person says “I detoxed” from drugs and alcohol, what they really mean is not that they went to a detox or addiction treatment facility, but rather that they went through symptoms of withdrawal. Many people attempt to “detox” themselves, which with any substance can be difficult or dangerous, is not advised, and with certain substances can be fatal. It is always recommended to go to a drug and alcohol detox facility to receive medical care and attention while going through the detox process and dealing with withdrawal symptoms. This is true from a safety standpoint but also from a comfort standpoint.

So, what is a medical detox?

The definition of detox in the dictionary is “a process of period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances; detoxification.”

A medical detox, or medical detoxification, is often the first step someone will take dealing with substance use disorder or addiction to stop using drugs and alcohol safely and begin a treatment and recovery process. A medical detox is medically indicated for anyone that experiences signs or symptoms of physical and psychological withdrawal.

FDA-approved medications used in a medical detox:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Suboxone
  • Subutex
  • Sublocade
  • Naltrexone
  • Vivitrol
  • Methdone
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Anti-nausea medications
  • Benzodiazepines

A medical detox is a professional healthcare facility setting that offers 24/7 medical oversight and care. A medical detox will be staffed by psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and other professional nurses (such as NPs and LPNs) that are able to monitor withdrawal symptoms, and through FDA-approved medications, prescribe, administer, and monitor medicine to help someone through the withdrawal process while in detox. Additionally, that medical team will be supported by a clinical team that offer individual and group therapy, to help patients with the mental and emotional discomfort of the detox process which depending on what substances an individual is using, can typically last between 7-to-10 days. There will also be a recovery support staff to help offer additional support for a patient going through detox. The purpose of a medical detox for drugs and alcohol is the provide a medically managed and monitored environment that can safely and comfortably help an individual through withdrawal until they are physically, mentally, and emotionally stable and can then begin to engage in a process of treatment and recovery.

A medical detox is not meant to make a person feel like they have to go away, but rather to provide the most effective way to safely and comfortably help them stop using drugs and alcohol. With 24/7 medical staff, ongoing clinical support, and additional recovery resources, a medical detox is the best first step a person can take when they want to overcome addiction, find recovery, and begin a life of health and healing.

If you or someone you know needs 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