Massachusetts Drug And Alcohol Detox Programs

Drug and alcohol detox programs serve to help addicted individuals safely withdraw from drugs or alcohol. Medical detoxification—the most common type of detox program—provides 24-hour medical and behavioral support within a supervised, structured environment.

Detox For Alcohol And Drug Addiction

Drug and alcohol addiction is a serious, but treatable disease that can harm physical, mental, and emotional health. When someone has become addicted to drugs or alcohol, they may be unable to stop using without experiencing physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal.

Drug and alcohol withdrawal can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms, ranging from fever to life-threatening seizures. The safest way for addicted individuals to rid their bodies of addictive substances is by entering a professional drug and alcohol detox program.

Spring Hill Recovery Center is a Massachusetts rehabilitation center that offers residential treatment and intensive outpatient programs for Massachusetts residents overcoming substance abuse and addiction.

Although Spring Hill does not offer detox services on-site, our accredited treatment center partners with detox centers nearby to coordinate a smooth transition from detox into our residential rehab program.

What Is Drug And Alcohol Detox?

Detoxification, or detox, is the natural process of removing toxins from the body. Drug or alcohol detox refers to the stopped use—or tapering—of addictive substances. People who have become addicted to drugs or alcohol may experience drug withdrawal.

Withdrawal refers to the physical and psychological symptoms that can arise when addicted individuals stop using drugs. The nature of the withdrawal process, and its length, may differ from person to person, depending on a wide range of factors.

Factors that may affect the severity and length of withdrawal include:

  • type of substance abused
  • duration of substance abuse
  • how much of the drug is taken
  • method of alcohol or drug abuse (e.g. injection, oral, smoking)
  • whether the person has undergone detox before
  • co-occurring health issues
  • family history
  • age

Alcohol and drug detoxification programs offer a structured strategy for helping individuals withdraw from addictive substances safely in a clean, quiet environment.

These recovery programs may also reduce the risk for relapse by using evidenced-based pharmaceutical and behavioral strategies to reduce drug cravings and treat uncomfortable symptoms.

Who Will Need Detox?

Not every person with a substance use disorder may require drug detox. Drug detox is necessary when a person has developed a chemical dependency on their substance of misuse. This chemical dependency in the body is what can then trigger withdrawal.

The severity of the withdrawal process, and the types of symptoms a person experiences, varies according to the type of drug they’re addicted to. Some symptoms of withdrawal can be mild, such as excessive yawning, agitation, and nausea.

However, in severe cases and with certain drugs, withdrawal may also trigger more dangerous symptoms.

Dangerous and life-threatening symptoms of withdrawal may include:

  • seizures
  • severe dehydration
  • high body temperature
  • slow/stopped breathing or heart rate
  • heart attack
  • coma

Alcohol and benzodiazepines (e.g. Xanax, Valium) are the most dangerous drugs to withdraw from, as they are most likely to trigger severe symptoms. Medical supervision and the use of certain medicines during detox can mediate these potential dangers.

Opioid withdrawal and stimulant withdrawal (e.g. cocaine) can be highly uncomfortable but are less likely to trigger life-threatening symptoms.

Types Of Detox Programs

Getting sober from drugs or alcohol can be a highly uncomfortable process. To safely detox from addictive substances, you may need to enter an inpatient drug detox program.

Medically supervised detoxification, or medical detox, is the safest and most effective way to detox from addictive substances.

These programs are structured to support individuals through the toughest stages of early withdrawal and help prevent relapse through the coordination of continuing care.

Benefits of medical detox include:

  • 24/7 supervision and monitoring for complications
  • a structured, supportive environment
  • the use of medicine to ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce drug cravings
  • removing the option of returning to drug use
  • coordinating continuing care within a full inpatient rehab program

Social Detox Model

A less common type of detox program that may be offered in some drug rehab centers is the social detox model. Social detox is a clinically-managed, non-medical strategy for drug detox that is generally carried out within a residential treatment facility.

Unlike medical detox, social detox does not involve the use of medications to treat withdrawal symptoms. Instead, this model generally relies on coaching and counseling to support a person through the withdrawal process.

Because they do not rely on medical intervention, social detox programs may not be suitable for people who are at high risk for experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms. Medically supervised detox is the #1 recommended option for people with severe or chronic substance use disorders.

Can You Detox From Home?

Completing detox at home is generally not recommended, especially for people with chronic or severe alcohol or drug addiction. Quitting drugs “cold turkey” can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening without emergency medical personnel on standby.

How Does Medical Detox Work?

Medical detox programs generally last three to 10 days and follow guiding principles developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Medical detox programs have three essential components:

  • evaluation
  • stabilization
  • readying patient transition into a formal treatment program


The first phase of a medical detox program involves carefully assessing the severity of a person’s drug dependence and their individual needs for treatment.

An initial evaluation will help treatment professionals determine an appropriate treatment plan that can be customized to meet each patient’s needs.

A clinical assessment can help doctors determine:


The primary goal of drug and alcohol detox is medical stabilization. The stabilization process involves providing patients with necessary medical and behavioral support as they undergo acute withdrawal.

Withdrawal symptoms may begin within six to 24 hours after a person has stopped using their substance of abuse. Over the course of the next three to 10 days, people who are coming off drugs may experience a wide range of symptoms, depending on their primary drug of abuse.

Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • headache
  • insomnia
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • difficulty concentrating
  • excessive yawning
  • nausea and vomiting
  • muscle aches and spasms
  • hot and cold flashes
  • diarrhea or constipation

The most severe form of alcohol withdrawal—delirium tremens (DT)—may cause additional symptoms, such as confusion, hallucinations, seizures, heart problems, and coma within the first 36 hours of detox. Through an initial evaluation, a doctor may be able to determine whether you or your loved one is at risk for DT.

Medical detox professionals will have the skills and resources necessary to identify these complications and treat them accordingly. This may include the use of certain medications to sedate or relieve pain.

Examples of medications that may be used during withdrawal include methadone, buprenorphine (Suboxone), and naltrexone (Vivitrol). Methadone and buprenorphine are typically used to treat withdrawal symptoms caused by opiates, while naltrexone may be used to ease alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

After the acute period of withdrawal, a person may still experience certain mild symptoms, known as protracted symptoms. These symptoms—which may include anxiety, depression, and trouble sleeping, among others—may persist for weeks or months, depending on the nature and severity of your substance use.

Patients who experience protracted withdrawal symptoms may continue to receive treatment for withdrawal within a formal treatment program.

Coordinating Continuing Care

Detox programs are designed to be short-term, for the purpose of stabilizing a person physically and mentally after coming off addictive substances. Overcoming addiction, however, does not end with getting sober.

After completing a detox program, a doctor will generally recommend that patients enter an inpatient rehab program.

Inpatient treatment is the most effective type of treatment to help newly sober individuals learn supportive coping strategies to help them conquer addiction and remain sober. Some of these treatments include behavioral therapy, counseling, and other substance abuse services.

What To Look For In A Drug And Alcohol Detox Center

Not every drug and alcohol detox center is the same. The type of detox programs offered, and specialized treatment services, may vary among addiction rehab centers.

To find the best care for you or a loved one seeking treatment to overcome addiction, look for an addiction detox center that can offer the following:

24-Hour Care

Around-the-clock care can be crucial for individuals undergoing the early stages of drug withdrawal. Serious withdrawal symptoms typically arise within the first 36 hours of detox.

For the physical and psychological well-being of patients, it can be important to have access to 24/7 medical and behavioral support in case of a medical emergency.

Specialty Areas Of Expertise

Some individuals undergoing withdrawal may have unique needs for drug and alcohol treatment based on their medical and mental health history or personal background.

Various factors, including a history of mental illness, trauma, and previous detox attempts, may influence the type of treatment a person needs during the detox and withdrawal process.

Specialty addiction services and considerations for detox may include:

  • Trauma-Informed Approach: Up to a third of people who enter addiction treatment centers have a history of trauma. A trauma-informed approach recognizes how trauma may exacerbate psychological and physical symptoms during withdrawal.
  • Polydrug Abuse: Addiction to multiple drugs may require special considerations for how to safely detox and treat withdrawal symptoms.
  • Co-Occurring Disorders: Patients with co-occurring physical or mental health conditions (dual diagnosis) may require additional mental health treatment during the detox process.
  • High-Risk Expertise: Certain populations may be at high risk for complications during withdrawal. This includes injecting drug users, homeless populations, individuals who are pregnant, and elderly patients.
  • Cultural Competency: Cross-cultural differences in drinking and drug habits may affect the type of care a person can most benefit from during the detox and withdrawal process.

Prioritizes The Continuation Of Care

Many detox centers partner with nearby drug rehab centers to coordinate a seamless transition from detoxification into an inpatient rehab program.

Spring Hill Recovery does not offer medical detox services onsite. However, our drug and alcohol rehab center does work with nearby drug and alcohol detox centers to create a smooth transition from detox to our residential rehab program.

Finding Addiction Treatment After Drug Detox In Massachusetts

Spring Hill Recovery in central Massachusetts is an accredited treatment facility that offers residential treatment and intensive outpatient treatment in a comfortable, home-like environment.

Recovering from addiction is a multi-step process. Spring Hill recognizes that getting sober is just the first step of your addiction recovery journey.

We understand the importance of not only stopping drug use, but addressing the underlying causes of addiction and learning how to rebuild a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life in long-term recovery.

Whether you’re in Boston, Worcester, Quincy, or other nearby Massachusetts cities, we can help you through our comprehensive recovery programs.

Call us today to learn more about Spring Hill’s New England addiction treatment programs, and how we can help coordinate you or a loved one’s transition from detox into our residential treatment program.

Written by Spring Hill Editorial Team

Published on: August 26, 2020 | Edited on: March 27, 2023

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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