Medical detox is part of substance abuse treatment for many people, but not everyone who has an addiction will require this component. When alcohol or certain drugs are used frequently or for long periods of time a physical dependence can occur, and stopping the substance abuse can lead to physical problems because the body has become dependent on the drug or alcohol to function properly. Medical detox is usually needed when the withdrawal symptoms that you experience could pose a threat to your health or safety. If you are addicted to alcohol and you have been drinking every day for many years then stopping cold turkey could cause you to have seizures and other dangerous problems that require medical oversight, and this is also true with certain drugs.
Medical detox is often the first step to substance abuse treatment, and this may be included in a treatment program or it may be a separate program that you go through before you go for treatment. During the medical detox process you will be supervised by a team of medical professionals, and there are medications that can be used to minimize any risk of adverse medical problems due to your withdrawal. Sometimes medication scan be given that help to lessen your cravings or to make your physical symptoms of withdrawal less severe. If you have a problem and you need substance abuse treatment then you should talk with your doctor or substance abuse specialist to see if medical detox is also needed. It may be possible to use one program for both components.