What Is Opiate Detox Like?

If you have accepted that you need treatment to stop your unhealthy cycle of opiate abuse, then you have made a wonderful decision. It won’t be an easy process, but you can do it. However, even though you know that you need treatment, you may not fully understand what it entails. You probably have questions.


How much will it cost? Should I remain local? Inpatient or outpatient?

There are a lot of questions to be asked and details to research, but before you get into those details, you probably need some basic information about the experience of treatment: What happens in opiate rehab?

But, narrow that question down even further: What happens in the very first step of opiate rehab? What happens in detox?

What follows will be a general overview of the components involved in most opiate detox. Obviously, different programs will vary, but these basics should all be included in one form or another. For example, one program might use medical detox (this will be explained later) and one might use a social model of detox, but all programs will help patients through withdrawal in one form or another.

This post won’t cover every single bit of the detox experience and you will be left with some questions and have new ones occur to you. That’s where DrugAddiction.org can help. Our experts are waiting for you to call 888-414-2380 (Who Answers?) so that they can answer those questions, point you to resources, and identify drug addiction treatment centers that will meet your individual needs.

Initial Assessment

Opiate Detox

A medical evaluation will take place prior to beginning detox.

Before you move onto any stage of recovery, the facility treating you will need to complete an evaluation of your medical and psychological conditions, as well as your social circumstances. The goal of these evaluations is to determine an effective variety of care that matches your clinical needs. It should fit within the given care setting, avoid constricting you, and be economical.

During this time, your system will be scanned for the presence of drugs and/or alcohol. The amount of each will be gauged. In addition, the staff will determine the presence of medical or psychological conditions you have in addition to the substance abuse.

Detox is first official treatment step and the assessment will determine what type of detox care you receive. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) identifies the following five levels of detoxification:

  1. Ambulatory detox without prolonged onsite monitoring
  2. Ambulatory detox with prolonged onsite monitoring
  3. Clinically managed residential detox
  4. Medically managed inpatient detox
  5. Medically managed intensive inpatient detox

Because opiates are terribly difficult to detox from, you are most likely to be placed in a hospital setting or some other type of round the clock care that provides medical oversight. The assessment will determine the best fit.


Detox is essentially the process by which you are moved from an acutely intoxicated state to one free of drugs and alcohol. Although the definition is simple, the process has a number of steps and can be enacted in a number of ways. There are definitely a score of variables.

The most common model of detox for opiate users will be the medical model. That involves a hospital setting and a staff of doctors, nurses, and medical support staff monitoring your progress. This model also tends to rely on medications to ease patients through withdrawal.

How the Symptoms of Detox are Treated Safely

SAMHSA states detox has three primary components: assessment (which has been covered), stabilization, and development of patient readiness for and entry into treatment.

Stabilization is the actual detox process. It will be medically stable and fully supported by clinicians or other staff. This will be both a medical and psychosocial procedure.

At the close of your detox, you will be urged to follow through with rehab. The detox staff will prepare you to enter opiate addiction treatment and will highlight the significance of your doing so.

Although you can choose to attend detox alone and to not pursue other treatment, you need to know that detox is considered the first step of treatment and is not considered treatment on its own. It will rid your body of opiates, but it won’t prepare you for dealing with triggers and cravings. You need complete rehab to fully succeed in recovery.

To learn more about detox and treatment, give us a call at 888-414-2380 (Who Answers?) . We look forward to speaking with you.