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What is Detoxification?

Detoxification refers to the medicinal or natural removal of toxic substances in the body. In regards to drug and alcohol abuse, detox is often viewed as the first step towards sobriety. It involves clearing the body of drugs and alcohol and preparing the individual for treatment.

The problem is that drug withdrawal symptoms can be tough, and letting this physiological practice happen naturally can take a long time. Detoxing without medications can lead to severe symptoms, some of which can be life-threatening. People who are going through withdrawal also usually experience drug cravings. Without counseling and support, it may be difficult to overcome these cravings alone.

Withdrawal symptoms can easily be stopped by picking up another drug. However, doing so will make people have to start the detox process all over again. Detox is made much easier, and safer, with the help of medical detox programs.

When people who are addicted to drugs reach a point where they are ready to ask for help, drug detox centers in Massachusetts can provide medically-assisted detox and counseling services.

Medically-Assisted Drug Detox

In the late 1960s after the first heroin boom, clinics began to be established that worked closely with hospitals to dispense opioid medications in a controlled manner to people struggling with opioid addiction. Around this time, methadone was developed, so other opioid replacement therapies (such as morphine or codeine) were eliminated.

Researchers found that people taking methadone, in conjunction with a comprehensive treatment program consisting of therapeutic services, counseling, and peer support, helped people cope with their withdrawal symptoms and stay sober from other opioid drugs. The only problem was that methadone itself was an opioid, and some people would misuse their medication

Over the years, other medications have been developed to help treat opioid addiction, alcohol abuse, and more. Many of these are considered to be far safer than methadone. Although there are no FDA-approved medications for stimulant or benzodiazepine detox, there are medically-assisted detox programs that can dispense controlled medications to help patients get through all types of drug withdrawal.

How Drug Detox Works

Detoxing from drugs isn’t easy, and without medical support, some drug withdrawal syndromes can be life-threatening. The safest way to detox is at a medical detox center. These programs provide medication management, therapy, and treatment support services to keep patients comfortable and successful. Here is what patients can expect while at a Massachusetts drug detox center.


Drug withdrawal is a unique experience for every patient. Symptoms, severity, and duration may vary for several reasons. Patients will undergo a comprehensive physical and psychological evaluation upon admission to a Massachusetts drug detox center. This assessment will gather information about:

  • The patient’s history of drug use and addiction treatment
  • The patient’s medical history and family medical history
  • Any medications the patient is taking or co-occurring disorders
  • Bloodwork and urinalysis
  • The patient’s treatment goals
  • What symptoms the patient is experiencing, if any

This information is then used to help the clinical team develop an individualized treatment program that meets each patient’s unique needs. This is an essential first step in making sure a patient’s treatment is successful.


Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a concept that combines traditional treatment methods, like counseling and behavioral therapy, with FDA-approved treatment medications. In order to provide a safer detox model, many drug detox centers in Massachusetts have adopted this gold-standard treatment approach of using medications to help support patients throughout detox.

According to SAMHSA, there are many ways patients can benefit from medication-assisted treatment (MAT), both before and after detox, including:

  • Reduced cravings and withdrawal symptoms
  • Improved patient retention in treatment
  • Improved patient survival
  • Decrease in illicit drug use after treatment
  • Improved outcomes in pregnant mothers suffering from substance use disorder

The type(s) of medications prescribed will vary from one person to the next and depend on what type of substance patients are detoxing from.

Opioid detox medications:

  • Methadone
  • Suboxone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Subutex
  • Cassipa
  • Zubsolv
  • Clonidine
  • Naltrexone

Benzodiazepine detox medications:

*Benzodiazepine often involves a taper using long-lasting benzodiazepine medications. These are dispensed to patients in a controlled manner.

  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)

Stimulant detox medications:

  • Topiramate
  • Gabapentin
  • Baclofen
  • Hydroxyzine
  • Vigabatrin

All of these medications are prescribed and administered by a physician at the detox facility. Patients who are doing outpatient detox will need to come to the detox facility each morning for their medications, while residential detox programs provide around-the-clock medical supervision and support. Lastly, all of these medications are most effective when combined with a drug rehab program.


There is a lot more that goes into staying sober than taking medications and passing the time. Withdrawals can be physically and psychologically painful. Drug detox centers in Massachusetts provide therapeutic services to help patients cope with their symptoms and get peer and professional support.

Additional services that may be offered during detox include:

  • Holistic therapies (yoga, meditation, mindfulness, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic)
  • Group counseling sessions
  • Individual counseling sessions
  • Mental health therapy and evaluations
  • Treatment referral services
  • 12-Step facilitation
  • HIV/AIDS testing


Detox isn’t going to be enough to keep individuals sober as it is only the beginning of the treatment journey. Drug addiction is a complex and progressive disease that takes time, patients, and comprehensive healing. That’s why it is important to attend a full-service addiction treatment program after finishing detox.

Before patients are released from a drug detox facility, they will meet with a drug and alcohol counselor. This counselor will teach patients about their treatment options and help them determine what type of rehab and which level of care is right for them. Treatment after detox may consist of any or all of the following:

  • Inpatient rehab (residential)
  • Parietal hospitalization (PHP)
  • Intensive outpatient programming (IOP)
  • Outpatient programming (OP)
  • Aftercare
  • Sober living
  • Alumni groups
  • 12-Step groups

Drug detox centers only address the physical symptoms of withdrawal and prepare patients to begin treatment. Rehab centers, on the other hand, address the underlying causes of addiction and help patients learn how to overcome their substance abuse habits.

Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

Patients’ withdrawal symptoms can range from mild, moderate, to severe depending on how long they have abused a substance for and what substance they are detoxing from. The three most commonly abused types of drugs include opioids, benzodiazepines, and stimulants. All have different withdrawal symptoms.

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Watery eyes
  • Yawning
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Cravings
  • Cold sweats
  • Chills
  • Goosebumps
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • High blood pressure

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Body aches and pains
  • Abnormal sensations like skin-crawling
  • Sweating
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Nausea
  • Hyperventilation
  • Muscle spasms
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Grand mal seizures

Stimulant Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Sleepiness
  • Increased hunger
  • Nightmares or sleep disturbances
  • Body aches
  • Muscle pain
  • Irritability
  • Delusions
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Cravings
  • Tremors

It doesn’t matter what type of drug a person is detoxing from – the safest and easiest way to complete the detox process without picking up a drug is to detox in a medical facility. Throughout the detox process, doctors, nurses, and addiction specialists can monitor patients’ symptoms and provide life-saving medical care in the event of an emergency.

Drug Detox in Massachusetts

Elevate Recovery Center in Massachusetts offers a comprehensive drug rehab program including detox, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and evidence-based therapies. We can help people struggling with addictions to benzodiazepines, stimulants, opioids, and more begin their journey to sobriety. To learn more about our Massachusetts detox programs or to find help for yourself or a loved one, pick up the phone and call now.