Detoxification is generally a medically supervised treatment for drugs or alcohol addiction designed to purge the body of intoxicating or addictive substances. A detox program is used as a first step in overcoming mental (physiological) or physical dependence on a substance. Ideally, people should be monitored by professionals to make sure they are safe as detoxing from alcohol and benzodiazepines can be fatal.
The word detoxification is often used to describe the monitoring, support, and treatments people receive to cope with the withdrawal symptoms and craving for substances that emerge when people cut down or stop using the substance. Because withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and dangerous, monitoring, support, and medical and psychiatric treatments during the process can be helpful and life-saving. Medications can be used to reduce the severity of these symptoms and to prevent life threatening illnesses.
It is important to note that detoxification alone does not treat substance use disorders. Clients need to be engaged into treatment during and after detoxification.