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Our phone line is staffed by knowledgeable rehab specialists ready to assist you. From 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday to Friday, and all day Sunday, a specialist from DRS will answer your calls. Outside these hours, your calls will be handled by a rehab specialist from “Together We Can,” a treatment facility in BC, ensuring you receive support whenever you need it.

Drug Detox Information

Last updated on: Thursday, 21 September 2023

Detox or medical detox is usually the first step of rehabilitation and is the process of getting the individual stable off drugs and alcohol. This is necessary because the helpful counseling and tools learned in treatment cannot be delivered if the person is not feeling well physically and mentally. During the detox process, two of the biggest things addressed are getting proper eating and sleeping. Other methods are also used depending on the type of detox you utilize.


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Different Types of Detox

There are two types of detox utilized in drug and alcohol treatment: social detox and medical detox. Social detox is usually referred to as just detox, and medical detox is commonly referred to as med detox. While they both have the same goal, the type of detox you choose will depend on the severity of your substance use.

Medical Detox

Medical detox is a type of treatment done under the care of medical and addiction professionals. During the observation period, the patient is assisted in increasing safety and comfort and managing painful withdrawal symptoms and potential medical complications that may result from ending substance use. During medical detox, medications are often administered to ease the process and reduce the intense cravings for the substance that is experienced.

Medically supervised or assisted drug detox is most appropriate for people with drug addiction involving alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opiates. Ceasing the use of these substances results in dangerous withdrawal symptoms, and in some cases, withdrawal symptoms can be deadly. Medications are used in drug detox to improve comfort and stability.

For example, benzodiazepines are often administered to someone detoxing from alcohol, whereas buprenorphine or suboxone is used to help someone detox from opioids.

Social Detox

Clinically managed drug detox is a non-medical strategy for someone wanting to end drug addiction. All social and standard drug detox programs differ, but their goal is to get someone stable off drugs. Professional support is offered throughout the entirety of the detox.

Counselors work with individuals to help them get healthy. They ensure people are getting proper sleep and eating well. They will also work with them to start communicating and get comfortable in the rehab environment. Some centers also do very light physical activities like long walks to help the person recover physically and put their attention outward.

Information on Drug Rehab

Ask a Professional

  • Should a detox program be considered rehabilitation?

    It is a form of rehabilitation, but it is not anything that is well-rounded and would address underlying issues. Detox is the first step before entering an outpatient or residential drug rehab program. It should not be considered counseling but a place to withdraw from drugs and alcohol.

  • Is it necessary to attend a detox program before drug rehab?

    It depends on the situation. Suppose you are still under the influence of drugs and alcohol, then detox is necessary to manage withdrawal symptoms. Some drug rehab programs require you to be sober for one or two weeks before entering the program. Detox is necessary to treat withdrawal symptoms, for example, alcohol, opioids, or illegal street drugs.

  • Is withdrawal management the same as a detox?

    Withdrawal management is a form of detoxification that deals with managing withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid or alcohol addiction or prescription drug addiction. This involves the process of managing dangerous withdrawal symptoms that require medication to ease withdrawal pain.

  • How is medical detox different from clinical detox programs?

    Medical detox programs utilize withdrawal management or medication-assisted treatment to alleviate dangerous withdrawal symptoms. It is different because medical detox programs are medically supervised, whereas clinical detox centers do not provide the same services.

  • Is medical detox needed for every type of substance use disorder?

    No, medical detox is generally only needed for severe drug dependence, such as with alcohol, pain medication, or benzodiazepines. Medical detox is not necessarily required for cocaine or methamphetamine addiction because withdrawal symptoms are not always dangerous or severe.

  • Are medications used in detox programs?

    Yes, in a medical detox program, medications are used to alleviate difficult and painful withdrawal symptoms. Medications are also used to taper individuals off of particular drugs. Medications are not meant to be permanent but only used in a medical setting to treat difficult withdrawal symptoms.

  • Want to know more?

    The questions from DrugRehab.ca’s “Ask a Professional” are answered by Nickolaus Hayes. If you need further clarification on any of the questions above or have any other questions you can contact him directly at N.hayes@drugrehab.ca.

Terminology Associated with Substance Abuse Drug Detox

Medically Assisted Drug Detox
Medical detox involves inpatient detox under 24-hour medical supervision. Medical detox uses medication to alleviate withdrawal discomfort and pain. Addiction involving alcohol, opiates, benzodiazepines, and pain medication commonly requires medical detox.
Standard or Clinical Drug Detox
A standard or clinical drug detox is an inpatient or outpatient process with some clinical supervision. Patients are typically not experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms and may only require minimal medical supervision.
Medication-Assisted Treatment
MAT is the use of medication in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies to provide a whole-patient approach to the treatment of substance abuse. MAT is often part of opioid detox programs.
Rapid Drug Detox
Rapid or ultra-rapid drug detox involves the use of medication to experience withdrawal symptoms faster and using other medication to alleviate withdrawal discomfort. Rapid detox also involves the use of anesthetics while the patient experiences withdrawal symptoms.




More Information

Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.



More Information

Sylvain Fournier is the Founder and CEO of Drug Rehab Institute established in 2010. He has been working in the field of addiction since 2005. His previous work experience includes six years of service in the field of addiction. As a Drug Prevention Specialist, he educated thousands of people through Drug Education Lecture to help them understand better how drugs can affect one’s life, health, mind, body, and future. He also worked as Legal Liaison Officer, Director of Admission and Director of Business Development and Public Relations Officer for a private drug and alcohol treatment center. Since 2010, he commits to identify and introduce addiction services determined to be clinically necessary for the patient and family. His main goal today is to make sure that families and individuals battling substance abuse get the help, assistance, and guidance that they need to break the chains of addiction and find the way to recovery. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute.