Medical Detoxification is a process that systematically and safely withdraws people from addicting drugs, usually under the care of a physician. Drinking alcohol or using drugs can cause physical dependence over time and stopping them can result in withdrawal symptoms in people with this dependence. The detoxification process is designed to treat the immediate bodily effects of stopping drug use and to remove toxins left in the body as a result of the chemicals found in drugs and/or alcohol.

Detoxification can be done on both an outpatient basis (at mental health centers, addiction clinics or private clinics) or inpatient (at a hospital or residential treatment center). Inpatient detoxification allows the patient to be closely monitored, prevents use of 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 to use detoxification programs at nearby sites, including hospitals and clinics. There are licensed detoxification facilities in most areas of the United States.

To Find Detoxification Programs:
SAMHSA online treatment locator (
On detailed search in the left hand menu, fill in the city and state, and then check detoxification and the type of care desired (Outpatient, Partial hospitalization/Day treatment, Non-hospital residential or Hospital inpatient).

Updated November 21, 2014