Detoxification: Individualized Approaches for Each Case

One-size-fits all works well for many things. It’s convenient when measurements aren’t required for fitting. However, when it comes to detoxing from substance abuse, medical assessment and treatment is paramount. One size does not fit all.

Detoxification, the period when substances are purged from the body, is always the first step in the recovery process. It is also one of the most critical. It is in this timeframe when a patient is most likely to experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. It is also for this reason that “cold turkey” methods can lead serious complications.

detoxificationThere are two detoxification models: social model detox and acute medical detox. Is one more effective than the other? It is important to examine each model before arriving at a decision.

First, social model detox involves monitoring the patient in a non-medical residential inpatient setting, and is frequently administered narcotic and non-narcotic medications by non-medical personnel, in conjunction with counseling and therapy. Social model detox can be effective in instances when the potential of life-threatening withdrawal symptoms are not an issue.

Conversely, acute medical detox is a detoxification model combined with medical care, which generally occurs in a hospital setting. Medical personnel carefully monitor and supervise the patient, administering the necessary medication to ensure a safe detoxification process.

Both methods require careful monitoring, with therapy to be safe and effective. With medical detox, it is guaranteed – medical professionals monitor the process throughout, all of which take place in a hospital setting. The pain and risks associated with withdrawal are scientifically managed. Each treatment plan is uniquely.

Social model detoxification is not always as regimented. Social model detox as described above can be successful – and compared to medical detox, highly cost-effective. However, the pitfalls lie in the interpretation. Not all facilities have the same definition of social detox. Some believe that social detox can be successful in an outpatient setting, making checkup visits while essentially independently. Depending on the length of time and level of substance abuse, this method can be a recipe for death; it may mean life-threatening withdrawal. Similarly, lack of 24/7 monitoring often means higher risk of relapse, and overdose.

When deciding what the best method of detox, many factors are at play – level of dependency,  type of substance(s), current health status/ medical problems, and previous response to the detoxification process – just to name a few. It is always best to seek consultation from a medical professional – one who is licensed in addiction medicine, when embarking on this process.

Whether social model or medical detoxification is recommended, it is important to remember that 24/7 monitoring and supervision is important. Detoxification should never be handled outside of an inpatient or hospital setting. When it comes to detoxification, one size does not fit all; each plan should be uniquely designed and administered by medical professionals. 

Take the First Step.
Call Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat
 866.273.0868 or visit us at
We look forward to seeing you!!