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What is the Difference Between Detox and Rehab and Which One is Right for Me?

what is the difference between detox and rehab

According to the National Institutes of Health, 10% of the U.S. population has suffered from addiction at some point in their lives. Substance use disorders can be extremely difficult to overcome; however, leaving addiction untreated can destroy your life. The best way to recover from substance abuse issues is to attend professional addiction treatment.

There are many different types of addiction treatment programs, but they can all be grouped into either detox centers or rehab facilities. Typically, medical detox programs are the first step in addiction recovery. These programs help you overcome withdrawal by providing you with medications and treatments that soothe symptoms and prevent cravings.Usually, rehab is the next step after detox. During rehab, you will participate in individual therapy, group counseling, holistic treatments, and relapse prevention planning. These programs provide you with the emotional and behavioral treatments you need to recover from addiction.

Learning about the differences between detox and rehab can help you determine which program is right for you.

What is Detox?

Detox is the first step in addiction recovery. The goal of these programs is to remove any and all substances from your body while preparing you for further treatment. Most detox programs last 7 to 14 days, depending on your projected withdrawal timeline.

During detox, the goals include:

  • Cleansing your body of toxins
  • Reducing the pain and discomfort of withdrawal
  • Lowering your stress and anxiety levels
  • Strengthening your body’s immune system
  • Learning how to control your behavior
  • Managing withdrawal symptoms
  • Lessening drug and alcohol cravings

While the primary goal of detox is to help you overcome withdrawal, these programs also set you up with a solid foundation for further treatment. Detox helps you regain control over your body and allows your brain to begin functioning properly again. Without attending detox, your withdrawal symptoms can become too much to handle and result in relapse, making recovery out of reach. Sometimes, withdrawal can even be life-threatening.

What is Rehab?

Drug and alcohol rehab focuses on the health of your mind rather than your body. Because your body has already recovered during detox, you will focus on working on the emotional and behavioral issues related to your substance abuse. The main goal of rehab is to develop a new lifestyle that encourages sobriety.

Typically, rehab lasts anywhere between 30 to 90 days. Some individuals spend more time in rehab, especially if they have underlying co-occurring mental health conditions that must be addressed.

During rehab, you will participate in the following treatments and services:

  • Evidence-based behavioral therapy
  • Individual, group, and family counseling
  • Holistic treatments like meditation, yoga, and exercise
  • Nutritional counseling
  • 12-step programs and other support groups
  • Relapse prevention planning
  • Case management

Overall, drug and alcohol rehab helps you identify triggers for substance abuse, develop coping mechanisms, and learn how to maintain long-term sobriety after detox.

detox vs rehab

Get The Care You Need and Deserve

Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is a leader in the addiction treatment field, with proven success in facilitating long-term recovery. Our team of top clinical & medical experts specializes in treating addiction coupled with mental illness, ensuring that each person receives individualized care. Call us – we’re available 24/day, 7 days/week.

How to Determine Whether You Should Attend Detox or Rehab

When determining whether you should attend detox or rehab, there is a simple way to decide. If you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, you should always choose to enter a detox program before attending rehab. Even if you are not currently experiencing withdrawal symptoms, you should receive support from a detox program before you abruptly quit using a substance.

Avoiding detox can be extremely dangerous, depending on the withdrawal symptoms you develop. Certain substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines can lead to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms without medical treatment, such as seizures. Even if your symptoms are not life-threatening, they can cause you to relapse without proper treatment.

The common symptoms of drug or alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Trembling and tremors
  • Muscle pain or aches
  • Hunger or loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures

If you or a loved one experience any of the above symptoms, you must attend a medical detox program. These programs can provide you with medications to soothe your symptoms and prevent you from experiencing life-threatening ones such as seizures.

However, if you have already completed a detox program or did not develop symptoms of withdrawal, you may be able to enter drug and alcohol rehab first. It is important to note that you should only skip detox if you are confident that you will not develop withdrawal symptoms.

Thankfully, drug and alcohol rehab programs will provide you with an in-depth initial assessment to determine your needs upon arriving at the facility. If you do need medical detox treatment, the rehab program will transfer you into a detoxification program. But most individuals should attend detox before entering a rehab program.

Find Help for Drug Addiction and Alcoholism Today

If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, receiving help from a professional addiction treatment program is of the utmost importance. More often than not, people require detox treatment before entering a drug and alcohol rehab program. These programs help your brain and body adjust to sobriety while preventing you from experiencing serious withdrawal symptoms.

After you complete detox, you can move on to rehab where you will recover from negative behavioral patterns and emotional traumas. To learn more about how professional rehab can help you overcome addiction, contact Woburn Wellness today.


Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC
Clinical Director

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