Medical Detoxification is a process in which individuals are systematically and safely withdrawn from addicting drugs, usually under the care of a physician. Drinking alcohol or using drugs causes physical dependence over time in some people. Stopping the use of alcohol or drugs results in physical withdrawal from these substances in people with a physical dependence. The detoxification process is designed both to treat the acute physiological effects of stopping drug use and to remove residual toxins in the body left as a result of using the chemicals found in drugs and/or alcohol.
Detoxification can be done on both an outpatient basis (mental health centers, addiction clinics or private clinics) or inpatient (hospital or residential treatment center). Inpatient detoxification allows the patient to be closely monitored, avoids exposure to the substance of abuse, and can speed up the process of detoxification. Outpatient detoxification has the advantage of being less disruptive to the patient's life and less expensive. The choice of setting depends on many factors such as the drug of abuse, amount and length of history of abuse, psychosocial issues, patient's age, and co-existing medical and/or psychiatric conditions among others.
While treatment centers often have their own detoxification facilities, others make arrangements for their patients with detoxification programs at nearby sites, including hospitals and clinics. There are licensed detoxification facilities in most areas of the United States.
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