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Every recovered addict will tell you that detox is no joke. It can wreak havoc on the body and mind, especially if done improperly, or worse – alone. Unfortunately, detox is a very important part of recovery and sobriety. Your body needs to be free of whatever substance feeds your addiction. To achieve that freedom, that substance needs to be stopped, its lingering elements need to work through the body and the addicted individual needs to have some real tools and support systems put into place that will help when temptation and cravings hit.

That, essentially, is detox.

Historically, detoxing from substance addiction, whether that be nicotine, alcohol, opioids, anything really, has been incredibly hard. The notion of an addict locked away until the seizures stop really wasn’t that far from the truth. Addicts died from detox, and that possibility is still very real.

One of the most celebrated portrayals of an addict’s story came from none other than Frank Sinatra himself, who played an addict wrestling with sobriety in the 1955 film The Man with the Golden Arm. Sinatra was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for his work in this film, which included a much-praised scene wherein Sinatra’s character goes through the withdrawals that accompany a “cold turkey” detox.

Nowadays, detox and rehab are nowhere near as violent and deadly as they have been in the past. That is thanks in large part to medically-assisted treatment (MAT).

Simply put, MAT is a partnership between the addict, their attending medical team and their therapeutic team that allows the addict to move through detox with as much comfort, awareness and success as possible. MAT takes place in a detox facility, not in an addict’s home. The very best facilities are able to smoothly transition an addict from detox to rehab to discharge and sobriety quite effectively. MAT offers even the most-addicted hope.

So, what is it? How does it work?

MAT consists of three main steps. Under each step are the various processes that ensure success. The three steps are best described as evaluation, stabilization and preparation.


This one is pretty self explanatory. Upon admission to your preferred detox facility, you will go through a series of steps to help that facility’s medical and therapeutic teams build the best custom treatment plan for you. Those steps will include a questionnaire to delve into your addiction history, etc. You will also have a health exam and blood tests to determine your current physical state, along with any medical issues which doctors should monitor or work into your custom treatment plan. Most likely a screening for co-occurring mental health issues or disorders will take place as well.

There will also be an evaluation of your current support system – are you supported by family and friends? Do you have a secure home to return to? Etc. All of this will be taken into account while your therapeutic and medical team work with you to build the very best custom treatment plan for your situation, one that will offer you the best chances of comfort and overall success during the detox process.


Plainly put, this is where doctors put the results of your evaluation, and the resulting treatment plan, into action. This is where your drug use stops and your detox begins, ultimately resulting in sobriety. During this time, you may receive medications to help you manage the symptoms of detox. The length of detox will depend on the substance, how long you’ve been addiction and other factors. It looks different for everyone.

Some of the medications used to help control detox symptoms include:

  • Benzodiazepines
    • Meds that helps the body relax and endure detox symptoms more successfully
  • Antidepressants
  • Opioid agonists
    • Drugs that will help ease the body through physical pain
  • Non-opioid agonists
    • Same as above, save for the fact that it isn’t an opioid
  • Opioid antagonists
    • These meds will block the effects of opioids, canceling out the “high”
  • Partial agonists and antagonists


Once you’ve reached this step, your detox is drawing to an end, or has ended completely, you are stabilizing on any therapeutic meds that will help you maintain sobriety and the work of preparing for your sober journey has begun. It is within this stage that you will establish healthy habits, coping skills, a sponsor, group routines, any necessary rehab following detox everything you need to ensure that your sober journey will not end when you leave the facility.

Detox has improved immensely over the last couple of years, especially when compared to what it used to be. It’s still hard, make no mistake, but done correctly with the right team inside of the right facility, detox is nothing that you cannot work through and come out of set up for success. It is still a battle, but is one well worth the fight!

Compass Detox is here to help you through that battle. If you feel you are ready to being your recovery journey, contact us today. Our staff are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

Photo by Rodolfo Quirós from Pexels

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