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The Importance of Medical Detox

Drugs or alcohol can play a bigger role in our lives than we’d care to admit. Once that role becomes too big – it’s time to quit. Deciding to get sober is an important step in an addict’s life but the next few choices after that decision present literal life or death situations.

Let’s learn the importance of medical detox, why quitting certain drugs or alcohol without medical supervision is dangerous, and how a medical detox clinic operates. You can avoid the grim prospect of death by quitting by learning more about medical detox.

Why Detox is Dangerous

A little information on withdrawal can help you understand why detox is so dangerous. Withdrawal is the result of chemical dependence. A dependent brain has seen enough drugs or booze to shift how it takes up and distributes electrical impulses like serotonin, GABA, and serotonin. Once you take the drug it depends on away, your brain and body panic. They think something has gone terribly wrong and respond with withdrawal symptoms. When your brain goes haywire you can experience several symptoms from slight anxiety to seizure and death.


Alcohol is the most widely abused substance in the country and represents the most dangerous detox. Quitting alcohol cold turkey can lead to the following symptoms:

Delirium tremens – A collection of severe physical and psychological symptoms.

Psychosis and Hallucination – Severe withdrawal can cause loss of touch with reality. Patients detoxing have reported seeing snakes, shadowy figures and voices, and the feeling that bugs are crawling under their skin.  

Rapidly rising Blood Pressure and Heart Rate – Can lead to stroke or heart attack.

Seizures – Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical impulses in the brain from withdrawal.

Coma – Doctors may put the patient in a medically-induced coma in severe circumstances. The body may also shut itself down naturally.  

Death – A pretty bad symptom.

Other Dangerous Substances

Alcohol is the most dangerous substances to detox from but it’s not the only substance that leads to dangerous symptoms. Pharmaceuticals like benzodiazepines (Ativan, Xanax) and barbiturates (seconal, phenobarbital) operate like alcohol in your body and can cause the same dangers. If you’re detoxing from benzos or barbiturates, you must seek professional help to avoid devastating withdrawal symptoms including death.


Opioids have caused more overdoses and deaths than any other type of prescription drug in recent years, but many are finally seeking the treatment they need. Thankfully opioid withdrawal and detox is not as dangerous as alcohol and other drugs. Opioid withdrawal is undoubtedly an unpleasant experience that can last days or weeks but normally doesn’t present symptoms that could cause permanent harm. There’s a saying about opioid withdrawal – “It won’t kill you, but you’ll wish you were dead.”

medical detox

Other Drugs

Alcohol and opioids cause more addiction issues than other illicit substances but aren’t the only things you can become addicted to. Treatment centers have medical detox plans for all commonly abused drugs including cocaine, crack, meth, Adderall, and others. Even if quitting a substance won’t kill you, medical detox is important for several other reasons.

Medical Detox Keeps You Safe and Comfortable

To help negate dangerous symptoms and make withdrawal more comfortable detox facilities utilize drug therapy. In drug therapy patients are given a small dose of their drug or choice or similar medication in slowly decreasing increments to ween the drug from the patient’s brains and bodies. A tapering method helps control withdrawal symptoms and keeps the patient much more comfortable during the detox process.

Alcohol Drug Therapy

In the ‘old days’ detox professionals had no choice but to use alcohol to help patients avoid deadly withdrawal symptoms, but modern facilities use other drugs like barbiturates or benzos to help reduce the most severe symptoms. Because benzos and barbiturates act similarly to alcohol, they’re useful for tapering.

Opioid Drug Therapy

Opioid addicts are normally given an opioid partial antagonist like suboxone to alleviate symptoms and help the addict start a new life clean and free. Drugs like suboxone bind to opioid receptors to relieve symptoms of withdrawal without the heavy psychoactive effects seen in other opioids. The dose is slowly reduced until the patient is drug free.

Other Drug Therapy

Every drug comes with an appropriate medical detox plan. Not all medical detoxes require drug therapy but a properly supervised detox and flush is still important for comfort and safety.

Medical Monitoring

Not all medical detoxes take place in a hospital but all take place in a certified medical facility and are overseen by medical professionals. If something goes wrong during your detox or if you show severe withdrawal symptoms you are surrounded by experts and equipment to keep you safe. You can’t say the same for a home detox.


Addiction researchers are uncovering more information about nutrition’s role in detox every day. Let’s admit it – addicts and alcoholics aren’t normally concerned with diet which can make withdrawal and detox worse. Modern detox facilities provide extra doses of vitamins and minerals like B vitamins to help the patient get back to full strength. A balanced diet of fruits and vegetables is also provided and encouraged for its benefits to detoxing patients.


Medical detox encourages exercise after you’ve made it out of the woods on severe symptoms. Exercise helps you flush nasty substances from your body, elevates mood, and helps your body repair and recover after years of abuse.

Don’t Risk It

Some types of detox like alcohol or benzo withdrawal are flat out dangerous while other types can cause extreme discomfort and dark thoughts. Don’t risk your life when you’re trying to take healthy decisions by detoxing at home – seek professional help. Detox facilities and treatment clinics have the professionals and proper facilities to make your medical detox safe, comfortable, and successful.

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