The Differences Between Detox and Treatment

There are differences and benefits to each type of care.
Most people do not know the different levels of care for drug and alcohol abuse. Knowing these levels of care will help the addict or loved one of the addict shop around for a the right program better because they will know what they need.


For many addicts, this is where the journey to recovery begins. Detox is an inpatient program in which the addict undergoes the process of removing substances from the body.  An addict generally needs detoxification if they have been using a substance in which they will experience withdrawal symptoms from. At the start of detox, a full medical evaluation should be done in order to determine what type of care will be needed. In addition, the medical evaluation will help the medical professionals understand what condition the addict’s body is, which is imperative to the detoxification process because the body will respond to withdrawal symptoms differently according to the addict’s overall health. The detox process last typically two days to two weeks or sometimes longer depending on which substances were used, the intensity of use, the duration of use, and the overall health of the addict. The addict will stay in detox until they are stabilized and the substance has left the body. It is essential that the addict follows up with a treatment program in order to keep their abstinence.


There are three levels of treatment for drug and alcohol treatment.

Residential Treatment: This is when the patient lives at the facility. Most facilities offer thirty, sixty, and ninety day programs. It is during this treatment that patients will get therapy and attend groups. Some treatment facilities utilize the 12-step model.

Partial Hospitalization (PHP): This is a form of outpatient treatment meant for those who still need a completely structured program, but do not need full time supervision. Patients live at home and go to the facility up to seven days a week for group and therapy. Not every facility offers this level of care, or simply call it “Outpatient.”

Intensive Outpatient (IOP): Similar to PHP, IOP is usually a few hours a day, five to seven days a week. Patients will focus on the stressors that life is presenting them with as they acclimate back into the real world such as problems at work, in their marriage, or being a parent.

It is important to determine the right program the meets all the needs of the addict. Outpatient programs are great for those who cannot take a lot of time off work or school, or for those who need to  continue treatment after detox and residential treatment have been completed. There are also aftercare programs that the facility should teach the addict about such as 12-step meetings, sober living, and therapists. In finding the right steps to take towards a solid recovery the addict has a better chance of making abstinence last.

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