Treatments for addiction detox are critical to your recovery journey. The right detox treatment plan is crucial to setting you on the way to long-term sobriety.

Proper addiction detox management involves the removal of all traces of the substance from your body. For effective removal to happen, you’ll have to stop using the addictive substance. In the world of addiction recovery, we refer to this process as withdrawal.

During detox, your body will experience symptoms and cravings which may come with physical pain. Detox is only the start of your addiction recovery. However, withdrawal symptoms are so uncomfortable that they can lead to a relapse.

Discomfort and symptom management are the primary reasons you need detox treatment. Mostly, detox treatment is a combination of medication and therapy.

Depending on your unique symptoms, you may need more therapy sessions compared to medication. Here, we’ll discuss proven treatments for addiction detox. We’ll go one step further by highlighting the factors that determine the best treatment for addiction detox.

What Happens to Patients During Addiction Detox?

Treatment programs for addiction detox are highly sensitive. The specialists in charge need to be on top of their game to ensure things don’t spin out of control.

The detoxification stage for addiction patients is intense. Though not life-threatening, it can be uncomfortable. The presence of specialists available to cater to your needs is invaluable.

Withdrawal is the primary situation that happens to patients during addiction detox. As we mentioned earlier, the withdrawal stage comes with a host of symptoms that vary from substance to substance. For example, if you’re addicted to an opioid, the withdrawal symptoms you’ll experience will be one or more of these;

  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Runny nose
  • Excess Yawning
  • Muscle ache
  • Insomnia

For alcohol addiction, patients may experience nausea and shakes in addition to the above. The variance from substance to substance is why no two patients have the same detox symptoms. Consequently, they’ll need different effective medical treatments for detox.

Medical intervention is essential for detox due to how severe the symptoms can get. Below, we’ll highlight three of the worst symptoms of medical detox.


Violence is common for people with an addiction to synthetic cathinone (‘bath salts). During withdrawal, patients are at risk of hurting others or themselves.

Most times, patients in this category need sedation. And, only a certified medical professional can prescribe and administer sedatives safely.


The excessive use of substances like cocaine can result in mental symptoms like psychosis during withdrawal. In mild cases, the patient may exhibit paranoia. Psychosis happens alongside visual and auditory hallucinations as well as other forms of delusional thinking.

Addiction withdrawal may not be the sole reason for these reactions. Most times, other underlying mental health issues can result in psychosis.

To manage these underlying symptoms, detox should happen under the supervision of a specialist. If not, you as the patient can become unpredictable, erratic, and unstable. Hence, posing harm to even yourself.


Most times, causing injury to others or self can happen while you’re on drugs. It’s a situation that can get worse during detox. Only prompt and proactive treatment can keep the possibility of self-harm to a minimum.

What Determines Effective Treatments for Addiction Detox?

The symptoms and treatments you’ll get during addiction detox are a function of the following:

How long you’ve been addicted

The length of time you’ve been abusing the substance will determine how severe your withdrawal symptoms are. As you may have guessed, the longer the addiction timeline, the more severe withdrawal symptoms will get.

You’ll need a lot of medication and medical monitoring to navigate medical detox safely. For patients in this category, inpatient detox treatment is best.

If you combine multiple substances

Some persons abuse more than one addictive substance. For instance, if you’re only addicted to alcohol, your withdrawal symptoms will be less painful than someone who combines alcohol with cocaine.

A combination of substance abuse makes it even harder to manage the detox stage. Withdrawal symptoms will bounce off and exacerbate each other.


An extended history of substance abuse means your body will develop tolerance to the substance. Over time, you’ll start to use more of the substance to achieve the same results. The higher the dose, the higher the probability of intense withdrawal symptoms.

Presence of mental health issues

Addiction patients typically have underlying mental health issues. What’s worse? Very few addiction patients get a professional diagnosis for mental health issues.

During detox, these mental issues can take a spin for the worse. The presence of these mental disorders plays a critical role in how difficult it becomes to manage your condition.

To counter mental health issues, detox treatment professionals will recommend a combination of medical and therapeutic treatments. Therapy sessions can help you uncover the source of any mental health problems.

The half-life of the addictive drug

The half-life is simply representative of how long the effects of the substance will remain in your body. If the half-life of the addictive substance is small, you’ll feel the withdrawal symptoms almost immediately you stop using the substance. If it has a long half-life, there’ll be a delay in the development of withdrawal symptoms.

Only a specialist can help you accurately understand the half-life of any addictive substance. Furthermore, they’ll be able to devise a pre-emptive treatment plan based on the half-life of the substance. Hence, it’s critical to surrender yourself to treatments for addiction detox with a professional.

Effective Treatment Programs for Addiction Detox

The best treatments for addiction detox come in the form of medication. Usually, a detox specialist will combine this with counselling and therapy. Your specialist may also use sedation to manage the mental symptoms of addiction.

The use of medication in the treatment of detox symptoms is to take off the edge. Without this, it may be impossible to bear the detox symptoms, which will make the whole treatment plan fall through.

The administration of medication during medical detox will happen under the strict supervision of a specialist. Close monitoring is important to ensure you’re not replacing addiction to a substance with another substance.

Some of the drugs you’ll use during the detox stage are approved by the FDA for addiction treatment. However, most of it will be common prescription drugs targeting your specific withdrawal symptoms.

While medications may play a significant role in detox, they aren’t all there is to medical detox. There is no one size fits all detox program for substance abuse. Instead, we can classify the proven treatments for addiction detox into two different classes.

Outpatient Detox

It involves the patient getting detox treatments from home. You’ll have to report to the detox centre for treatment and observation based on a pre-agreed schedule.

Outpatient detox is the least effective form of detox treatment. 100% of the time, addicts can’t control the way they abuse substances. As such, getting detox treatment in an uncontrolled environment is a recipe for failure. In severe cases of addiction, outpatient detox is an absolute ‘no.’

Outpatient treatment is only allowed in situations where money is the problem or when the patient in question finds it impossible to leave home. If the addiction case is not severe, with hard work from both the patient and the doctor, you can enjoy positive results.

outpatient detox

Inpatient Detox

It’s the best category of detox treatment. Inpatient detox means you’ll be living within the treatment facilities. As such, you’ll be under the strict monitoring of a dedicated medical team. In the event of any emergency, medical help will reach you promptly.

Since you’re in a controlled environment, exposure to possible addiction triggers will be at an all-time low. With no triggers in play, the possibility of addiction relapse will fall drastically.

What does Effective Opioid Detox Treatment Entail?

When it comes to opioids, every detail is unique. Addiction to opioids happens very quickly. It’s a uniqueness that determines how opioid experts manage addiction detox.

The FDA approves different medications for opioid detox treatment. The varying types of medications give rise to different detox approaches. Hence, your specific opioid detox procedure depends on what your specialist feels is best.

Whatever the treatment approach may be, it’ll be an inpatient program. Since opioids are highly addictive substances, the close monitoring an inpatient detox program offers is best.

The withdrawal symptoms from opioid use are always severe. But with the proper medication, it’s possible to douse their effects.

Opioid detox medication with FDA approval includes buprenorphine and methadone. These drugs require the supervision of a specialist.

Your detox specialist will devise a tapering schedule for using these drugs. Buprenorphine and methadone also have high addictive potentials. A tapering dosage will make sure you don’t experience any withdrawal symptoms.

What does Alcohol Detox entail?

An abrupt stop to the excessive intake of alcohol can be life-threatening and extremely distressing at the very least. From shivering to anxiety to sluggish movements and insomnia, alcohol detox comes with a whole bundle of discomfort.

Due to this, alcohol withdrawal requires the instant administration of medication. The medication commonly used in this case is benzodiazepines. In the case of alcohol withdrawal, you have no choice but to be subject to inpatient treatment.

Related Article: What Happens During Alcohol Detox?

The Psychological Aspect of Withdrawal and Detox Treatments

Effective treatments for addiction detox are not complete without provisions for psychological symptoms. More often than not, detox doesn’t only result in physical problems for the user. As highlighted earlier, there are psychological symptoms that’ll need attention.

Psychological symptoms are common for substances like methamphetamine and cocaine. Worst case scenario, withdrawal from cocaine can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts.

In cases like this, there is no other treatment option than an inpatient program. The craving, in this case, is so much that you’ll find it impossible to steer clear of the drug if on an outpatient program. If you choose an outpatient treatment program, you’ll most likely relapse, cancel appointments, and fail the detox process.

During the detox stage, your specialist may recommend one or a combination of the following:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Contingency Management
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioural Therapy
  • Matrix Model

Practical Approaches to Addiction Detox

There are three main approaches to detoxification.

  • Short-term medicated detox
  • Cold-turkey detox
  • Long-term medicated detox

Cold-Turkey Detox

It starts with an abrupt end to drug and substance abuse. The only care you will get is medical supervision in the case of any emergency.

A cold-turkey detox is a form of at-home treatment. Hence, you won’t be getting help in the form of medication. You will undoubtedly experience withdrawal symptoms during this period, and it will be harsh, but it’ll only last for a couple of weeks.

Short-Term Medicated Detox

For short-term medicated detox, you’ll get drugs to cope with the absence of the addictive substance in your body. For instance, if you have insomnia due to withdrawal, you may get non-addictive sleep pills.

If your symptom is that you get bone or muscle aches, a doctor will provide you with pain relievers. Short-term medicated detox is a form of inpatient detox. Unlike long-term programs, it doesn’t have an extended timeline.

Long-Term Medicated Detox

During long-term medicated detox, you’ll get regular treatment over a long period. Long-term medicated detox is common with alcohol addiction. The doctor will create a medication schedule that can span up to three months.

Another common situation where long-term medication is ideal is when you are detoxing from opioids like heroin. Here, you’ll get a dosage that includes regular painkillers. A specialist may also prescribe methadone or a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Without these drugs, the withdrawal symptoms will be severe.

There’s a need to plan to avoid dependence and addiction to medication during long-term medicated detox. Typically, to prevent your body from building up a tolerance, the doctor will lower your dose and frequency over time.

Frequently asked Questions

Below are the answers you need:

Is Detox All You Need to Treat Addiction?

The short and straightforward answer to this is “no.”  Detox alone cannot solve your addiction problem. After undergoing comprehensive detox treatments, you need to keep on with the rest of the addiction treatment.

Addiction is both a physical and psychological problem. Beyond just getting the remnants of the substance out of your body, you need psychological help. Detox alone cannot address the compulsive need to use a substance.

If all you get is detox, and you feel you’re good to go, a relapse is likely. Relapse returns you to ground zero. You’ll have to go through detox again if you want to achieve long-term sobriety.

What is PAWS?

PAWS is shorthand for Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. PAWS is a situation where withdrawal symptoms continue to surface, even after the normal timeline for acute withdrawal elapses. The possibility of a protracted withdrawal is dependent on the type of substance. The intensity and severity may also vary.

Is rapid detox a great option?

is rapid detox a great option

Currently, there is no data that affirms rapid detox as one of the treatments for addiction detox. It does sound exciting to be able to detox at a fast rate. However, in health and addiction treatment circles, fast doesn’t mean safe, secure, and effective.

Are detox kits dangerous?

It’s safe to say they are. These kits don’t consider your personal needs. Remember, earlier in this article, we established that personalization is key to addiction detox. But those kits out there don’t consider your personal symptoms and health conditions. What is good for the gander may not be good for the goose.

Also, you may have underlying mental issues. If things go wrong with using a detox kit, you may increase the severity of mental symptoms. The right step to detox is to consult with a specialist and get a proper diagnosis.

Are drug detox kits enough to treat addiction?

No, these aren’t enough. Beyond the physical withdrawal symptoms, psychotherapy is key to treating detox. If there is anything you should know about substance addiction, it’s that you can’t recover on your own.

Detox without professional help is a fast track back to addiction. Addiction treatment is learning how to live without the substance. There is a need to prepare for this learning journey. That is what detox therapy will do for you.

Related Article: What is the Timeline for Drug Detox?

Final Take

Effective treatments for addiction detox include medication and psychological treatments. Depending on the nature of your addiction problem, these treatments may come in an inpatient or outpatient format.

Whichever one it is, make sure you’re under the care of experienced addiction detox professionals. They’ll be able to devise an addiction detox plan that can give you the best results.

Here at Medical Detox Toronto, our specialists will provide detox treatment in a safe, controlled environment. Take the first step to addiction treatment by contacting us today!

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