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What is a Detox Center?

Jessica Ellis
Updated Feb 29, 2024
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For individuals struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, detoxification may be one of many treatment options to help begin the process of recovery. Detoxification clinics attempts to reduce the physical effects of withdrawal from an addictive substance, often using prescription drugs as part of treatment. A detox center is usually an in-patient program that can carefully monitor patients’ progress and attend to their needs during the difficult process of initial withdrawal.

If you consistently use an addictive drug for a long period of time, the chemicals in the drug can affect your body and brain function. Addiction on a physical level can reduce the ability of your body to produce certain necessary chemical processes, making you more and more dependent on the drug to provide those substances. If you are physically addicted to a drug, suddenly quitting can cause the body to go into shock as it is denied its supply of chemicals. This can lead to severe effects on your body, including hallucinations, tremors, and even heart attacks.

At detox centers, the dangerous physical effects of drug withdrawal can be medically supervised, preventing the possibility of relapse and severe physical suffering. For alcohol dependency, patients are given prescription drugs that can treat the symptoms without feeding the addiction. Most typically, benzodiazepines like Valium are used, but treatments vary and may include barbiturates and sympatholytics.

Detox centers may be combined with a rehabilitation program, intended to guide patients toward recovery. While detoxification helps remove the physical symptoms of withdrawal, it does nothing to combat the psychological or mental factors that have contributed to the addiction. Recovery is a life-long process for most people, one in which addiction must be honestly addressed and relapse prevented consistently. Detox, while beneficial in removing the dangerous physical effects of initially coming off the drugs, is not a long-term cure for addiction.

Most detox center programs will attempt to guide patients to a longer-term rehabilitation center. Part of the detox center regimen often includes initial drug counseling and observation of the patient, so that clinic workers will be able to make carefully considered suggestions as to what the next step of an individual’s recovery program should be. Associated rehab programs can work directly with a detox center, to arrange seamless transfer from the detox center to a rehab clinic, in order to preserve the patient’s focus on their recovery.

To find a detox center in your local area, check the phone book or internet resources. Contact local hospitals for recommendations; some larger hospitals may work directly with a specific detox center and can give you access to a wide variety of resources about alcohol or drug addiction recovery. If you or anyone you know is suffering from an addiction, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. A detox center may not be able to solve the problem, but it can be an important first step to kicking the physical need for the drugs and allowing a patient to think more clearly about the road ahead.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for WiseGeek. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
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Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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