What to Expect From a Professional Detox Program

Table of Contents

This is part three of the series What to Expect During Detox. Read part two, Withdrawal Symptoms Associated With Detox.

Riverside, California, offers a number of detox programs, but not all detox centers are created equal. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a high-quality detox program will consist of three components: evaluation, stabilization and fostering readiness for treatment.


A full evaluation is performed upon being admitted to a detox program. During the evaluation, staff will test for the presence of drugs or alcohol in the bloodstream and measure the concentration. Medical and mental health screenings identify any co-occurring physical or mental illnesses. A variety of assessments and interviews give staff a comprehensive look at the individual’s psychological state, overall health and social situation.


Stabilization is the process of seeing the individual through withdrawal to a medically and mentally stable, fully supported, drug- or alcohol-free state. This is achieved through medication, counseling, support and—in high-quality detox programs—complementary therapies like acupuncture, massage and restorative yoga.

Fostering Readiness for Treatment

Detox is only the first step in addressing an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Without following it up with a high-quality treatment program, the chances of relapse are very high. During detox, your team of care providers will work with you to develop a treatment plan that will help you maintain abstinence once the detox process is complete.

Levels of Medical Detox

The American Society of Addiction Medicine identifies five levels of care for detox.(2) A variety of criteria are used to place an individual in the appropriate level of care.

  • Level I-D is Ambulatory Detoxification Without Extended Onsite Monitoring. This translates to outpatient detox, which takes place through a doctor’s office or home health agency. The patient is monitored at various intervals during detox.
  • Level II-D is Ambulatory Detoxification With Extended Onsite Monitoring. This level of detox involves programs like day hospital service, where detox is monitored by licensed nurses.
  • Level III.2-D is Clinically Managed Residential Detoxification. This inpatient care level doesn’t involve medical supervision or medication, but instead focuses on around-the-clock peer and social support.
  • Level III.7-D is Medically Monitored Inpatient Detoxification. This can take place at a free-standing detox center or as part of a comprehensive inpatient rehab program. Here, detox is supervised by medical professionals who can administer medication as needed to reduce symptoms and treat medical emergencies.
  • Level IV-D is Medically Managed Intensive Inpatient Detoxification. This level of care takes place in an acute-care hospital setting where care is provided around the clock.

Read part four of this four-part series, Detox Can Help You End Addiction for Good, or download the entire series as a fully illustrated eBook, What to Expect During Detox.

What To Expect During Detox

Table of Contents

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