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Inpatient Detox for Drugs and Alcohol

Detoxification (“detox” for short) centers offer a safe, supportive place where you can go through withdrawal with as little discomfort and safety risk as possible.1,2 It is often the first step for treating substance use disorders. Detox centers are designed to manage the unpleasant, upsetting, and sometimes life-threatening symptoms that go along with withdrawal.2,4

Detox can happen in different types of settings with lower or higher levels of medical oversight. This article will help you learn about the different types of inpatient detox, which takes place in a residential or specialty care center, as well as what to expect during treatment and how to choose the best treatment type for your needs.

What Is Inpatient Detox?

When you first stop using drugs or alcohol, you may go through a number of mental and physical symptoms such as anxiety, drug cravings, depressed mood, trouble sleeping (or sleeping too much), stomach problems, muscle aches, or bone pains.1–3 This is known as withdrawal. The goal of any detox program is to help keep you safe through this process and reduce symptoms as much as possible.

During inpatient detox, you live at a treatment center while you go through detox. Treatment centers could be a hospital or other setting that is able to handle severe medical issues, or it could be a standalone center with less intense medical oversight. Staff is onsite around the clock to check your progress and ensure your safety.1,5 By contrast, outpatient detox lets you live at home and attend treatment appointments at a clinic or doctor’s office while still more or less following your daily routine.1

Detox can help clear your body of drugs and alcohol, but detox alone is rarely enough to kick a substance use disorder in the long term. This is because detox doesn’t address the underlying causes of addiction—issues that are important to face to stay substance-free.6–8 Whether you choose inpatient or outpatient detox, the staff will help you find and shift to post-detox treatment for a substance use disorder.

Should I Choose Inpatient Detox?

Some things to consider as you decide the right type of detox treatment setting for you include:1,3,5

What Happens During Inpatient Detox

When you first arrive for inpatient detox, you will go through a detailed assessment to answer questions about:1

  • substance use
  • physical and mental health history
  • treatment history
  • any social, legal, employment, or other issues you may have.

male doctor talks to patient about inpatient detox treatmentYour care team will use this information to help you make the best decisions about your care and form a treatment plan for both your initial detox and any other treatment that may follow. They may also ask you to follow certain rules, such as no cell phones or computers, no weapons or violence, strict schedules, and other dress code and safety rules. Rules are generally designed to help keep you safe and reduce substance use triggers.

Inpatient detox is the first step in a treatment journey.1,2 Staff can help you decide the next steps to take as you near the end of detox and refer you to other care as needed.1,2 This may include inpatient or residential rehab or a step down to outpatient rehab, depending on your needs.2,7

Types of Inpatient Detox Centers

Inpatient detox centers differ in location, length, cost, and treatment. The main types are:1,10

How Long Is Inpatient Detox?

A typical inpatient detox process for substance abuse lasts 3 to 5 days and is managed with medicines combined with vitamins, exercise, and sleep.10 How long detox lasts will depend on which substance(s) you used, how long you used, and the type and severity of withdrawal symptoms. Depending on these factors, doctors may also give you certain medicines to help ease any discomfort and control cravings.

Benefits of Inpatient Medical Detox

A major benefit of inpatient detox is that medical staff are onsite to check your progress and ensure your safety.1,6 They can give prescription medicines, check your vital signs, assess your health, and offer other support as needed throughout the detoxification process.1,6

After you finish detox, your care team may continue or shift your medicines to better support you while you are working on your recovery in either inpatient or outpatient rehab.

How to Choose the Right Inpatient Detox Center

Which detox center you choose depends on a number of factors. Think about your unique needs and goals for treatment as well as:


Does your insurance cover inpatient detox?

We can help – check your coverage instantly or text us your questions to find out more.


How to Find Inpatient Detox Near Me

American Addiction Centers (AAC) offers complete treatment for substance use and co-occurring disorders. We have treatment centers across the country to help you detox safely and then transition seamlessly into inpatient or outpatient rehab. For more information about how we can help you detox, call our confidential detox helpline at or text us.

For more options, use the tool below to find your local inpatient detox center.


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