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Drug Detox: Process, Side Effects & Detox Centers Near Kansas City

Last Updated: December 7, 2023

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

Several steps are involved in the addiction treatment process. The first one for most people is fully detoxing from drugs or alcohol. Detox is the term used to describe the process of your body eliminating substances. In a professional detox program, also known as a medical or medically supervised detox, you receive medications and needed therapies to manage your symptoms safely. This first step is essential so you can move on to the next phase of your treatment.

What Is Drug Detox?

Sometimes, the terms detox and rehab are used interchangeably, but this isn’t accurate. These are two very different aspects of the addiction treatment process. Most people require a continuum of care, which means they participate in different types of treatment and levels of care. A continuum-of-care approach tends to have the best recovery outcomes.

Withdrawal occurs when you’re physically dependent on drugs or alcohol. Detox symptoms vary in severity depending on your health, the substances used and other individual factors. Generally, the symptoms you might experience as part of withdrawal include changes in mood, flu-like physical symptoms and cravings for drugs or alcohol.

As the first step of a continuum of care, during a medical detox at a professional facility, the clinical team helps patients stabilize medically. From there, the treatment team will provide medicines and other therapeutic services to reduce withdrawal symptoms and make you comfortable.

The Process of Medical Detoxification

Typically, there are three parts to a medical detox. These include:

  • Evaluation: This first step of the medical detox process allows clinicians to learn more about your physical, medical and psychological history. Evaluations will consider how severe your symptoms are likely to be and complicating conditions or factors in your treatment. The assessment helps the clinical providers recommend a level of care for medical detox and begin building a highly individualized treatment plan.
  • Stabilization: During the next medical detox phase, you may be given medicines and other therapies to help you withdraw safely and comfortably.
  • Transitioning to substance abuse treatment: While a safe detox is a necessary step in a treatment plan, it’s not on its own an addiction treatment. Depending on your needs and goals, the next steps could be residential or outpatient rehab.

Professional Detoxification vs. Quitting Cold Turkey

When you quit substances cold turkey, it means you’re doing so suddenly. You aren’t tapering or receiving medical guidance for your detox process. If you’ve been using substances for extended periods or in large amounts, quitting cold turkey isn’t recommended because you can experience severe withdrawal symptoms as your body struggles to adjust. In some cases, such as with alcohol, quitting cold turkey can be dangerous or deadly. 

Life-threatening symptoms of quitting certain substances cold turkey can include heart problems, seizures and psychosis. You also lose your tolerance to whatever substance you’re dependent on. If you relapse, you’re at a greater risk of relapsing again. In a medical detox, you have 24/7 medical supervision.

Detoxing at Home: Risks and Considerations

The risks of detoxing at home are similar to cold turkey. First, you have no idea the severity of your symptoms. If you were to experience complications or severe symptoms at home, it could quickly turn into a medical emergency, and you may not be able to get help on time. Detoxing at home without professional help is much more challenging, making your risk of relapsing more significant.

Treatment Options After Detox

Once you’ve completed your detox, you can begin the next step of your treatment program with a clean slate.

Your treatment options include:

  • Residential rehab is an intensive treatment level that involves living on-site. This is the ideal next step of treatment for most people. Residential programs provide a supervised and structured environment away from stress and triggers, which is crucial in the earliest part of your recovery. 
  • Partial hospitalization programs are a step down from residential treatment. A PHP offers some independence and free time as patients transition to managing their recovery.
  • Intensive outpatient programs, or IOPs, are transitional between living at a treatment facility and daily life in the community.

Types of Detox Programs

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) outlines five medical detox levels of care. These are:

  • Ambulatory detoxification without on-site extended monitoring could happen on an outpatient basis. For example, you might go for regular check-ins at your doctor’s office or be supervised by an agency providing home health services.
  • Ambulatory detoxification with extended on-site monitoring is similar to without on-site extended monitoring. It requires credentialed nurses to be available so they can monitor participants for several hours out of the day.
  • Clinically managed residential detoxification includes 24/7 support and supervision but less medical oversight than other programs. The focus is on social and peer support rather than clinical support.
  • Medically monitored residential detoxification includes 24/7 medical supervision and care during withdrawal.
  • Medically managed intensive residential detoxification is the highest level of care among medical detox programs.

The Cost of Detox and Financial Considerations

The cost of a medical detox depends on the center you attend, the level of care needed and how you’re paying. Insurance will often cover some or all of medical detox costs, and some programs will accept Medicaid. If you aren’t sure about your insurance coverage and whether it will cover a medical detox, you can contact our team at The Recovery Village Kansas City. We can verify your insurance benefits and discuss the cost of medical detox programs in more detail.

Choosing the Right Detox Center

Many factors go into choosing the right medical detox center for your needs or someone you love. You should ask questions and learn more about the credentials of the facility and the professionals who work there.

While a medical or behavioral health facility needs to be licensed only by the Department of Public Health in their state, there are optional credentials that can signify a high quality of care. Accreditation from non-government organizations is a way to show that the facility meets high standards and performance levels beyond the minimum requirements in the state.

An example of an accreditation to look for is CARF, which stands for the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. This is a non-profit that makes sure addiction and medical detox facilities meet safety practices and program requirements.

Another accreditation is the Joint Commission, a non-profit that inspects healthcare facilities around the country and the world.

Tips for Finding the Best Detox Center

When comparing medical detox centers, other considerations include:

  • Is it physician-led?
  • What types of treatments are available? For example, is medication-assisted treatment used to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings?
  • Can you seamlessly move into addiction treatment at the facility once your medical detox ends?
  • Is the center in-network with your insurance, or do they have flexible payment options that suit your needs?

Seeking Medical Detox at The Recovery Village Kansas City

The Recovery Village Kansas City is a physician-led and evidence-based addiction treatment center that provides a full continuum of care. Contact us to learn more about our medical detox programs and the next treatment steps for you as you reclaim your life and independence from drugs or alcohol.


NIH National Library of Medicine. “Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.” 2006. Accessed October 24, 2023.

Gupta, Mohit et al. “Withdrawal Syndromes.” NIH National Library of Medicine, April 29, 2023. Accessed October 24, 2023.

American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). “The ASAM Clinical Practice Guideline on Alcohol Withdrawal Management.” Accessed October 24, 2023.

NIH National Library of Medicine. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings.” 2009. Accessed October 24, 2023.

The Joint Commission. “Behavioral Health: Accreditation Options.” Accessed October 24, 2023.