Types of Drug Detox

By James F Davis

There are 4 primary types of drug

detox available for addicts and

alcoholics to achieve the initial

stages of sobriety. This includes

the cold turkey method,

specialised detox centres,

medical detox facilities and rapid

detox centres. Each type of drug

detox has its own benefits and

pitfalls that people seeking to recover from addiction

should understand before they decide which treatment

option is right for them.

Cold Turkey Drug Detox

This type of detox is also called "natural detox" and

essentially consists of an addict or alcohol undergoing

the stages of acute withdrawal in a private setting with

little or no assistance or care. Unfortunately, the chances

of successfully breaking the initial stages of acute

withdrawal syndrome are small with this method, and

most addicts will return to their drug of choice before they

have reached a critical mass in their recovery efforts.

Despite its propensity for failure, quitting cold turkey isn't

dangerous if the substance in question is fairly benign

such as marijuana or mild opiates addiction. However,

some substance addictions can lead to life-threatening

symptoms of AWS in the event of sudden cessation. The

three most dangerous of these substances are alcohol,

barbiturates and benzodiazepines; all of which can lead

to seizures, respiratory and/or cardiac arrest, coma and

in rare cases, death.

Regardless of the substance of abuse, most experts do

not recommend natural detox as the chances for success

are significantly impaired.

Specialised Drug Detox Centres

Specialized detox centers provide inpatient style

treatment for up to 2 weeks. Patients receive an initial

evaluation which will be used to develop an

individualized treatment plan for the duration of their

stay. Because of the individual nature of these plans,

some detox patients will undergo treatment in just a few

days, while others will require a week or two. In many

cases these types of detox facilities work in conjunction

with longer-term treatment centers that patients can

automatically transfer to once they are past the acute

stages of withdrawal.

Specialized detox centers work because of the therapies

employed - such as individual and group counseling -

and because they effectively isolate the addict or alcohol

from people, places and things that could be triggers for

them to relapse.

Medical Detox

Medical detox is similar to a specialized detox center but

with a distinctly medical component. This can consist of

an on-site nurse or doctor, 24 hour monitoring and other

types of medically-oriented benefits. A medical detox

center can also help addicts to step-down their drug

usage in an effort to maintain medical safety and reduce

or eliminate symptoms of acute withdrawal.

Medical detox is often required by addicts that have

relapsed repeatedly, as subsequent attempts to get

clean result in more severe withdrawal symptoms that

last for a longer period of time. This is referred to as the

Kindling Effect and is a very real phenomenon that can

make it extremely difficult for people to get clean and

stay clean. A medical detox center can address these

issues expertly in a safe, relaxed and non-judgmental


Rapid Detox

Rapid detox refers to a type of medical-detox procedure

whereby the patient undergoes most of the symptoms of

withdrawal while unconscious. This is accomplished by

placing the patient into a medically-induced coma, then

administering a series of drugs that facilitates and

hastens the process of acute withdrawal. This spares

most patients the worst of the symptoms and allows

them to begin their treatment without the pain and

discomfort of a long period of withdrawal.

Unfortunately, rapid detox is a relatively new practice and

it's not well understood yet how successful it is from a

long-term treatment standpoint. Addicts considering this

method should consult with their primary physician prior

to speaking with a detox specialist.

Going through detox in a specialized or medical facility is

the best option for most addicts and alcoholics; not only

from a safety standpoint, but also because sequestering

an addict away from potential exposure to drugs or drug-

abuse triggers provides the best chance for lasting