Medical detoxification is required for many addictions and in numerous substance abuse cases, but this is not needed in every single situation. Certain substances are more likely to result in severe physical withdrawal symptoms, and these can be managed better in a medical setting where medications and other treatment methods for the symptoms experienced are available. Some drugs are not physically addictive and the withdrawal symptoms are mild. Other substances may cause severe symptoms that can even threaten health or life in the worst cases. When alcohol or drugs like heroin or other opiates are used frequently then a physical addiction can develop, and when the use of the substance is stopped then the body may react in unexpected or even violent ways. Hallucinations, convulsions, severe nerve pain or muscle aches, and an intense feeling of profound physical illness can be devastating.
Some drugs require medical detoxification in every situation. These include a number of prescription pain medications and illegal opiate street drugs like Vicodin, Oxycontin, morphine, Xanax, Valium, and Hydrocodone as well as heroin. Alcoholics who try to quit drinking may end up having convulsions, hallucinating, and suffering from extreme physical reactions when the withdrawal symptoms are full blown. Substances that do not require medical detox include powder and crack cocaine, methamphetamines, crystal meth, and marijuana. The body does not become physically dependent on these drugs so withdrawals may be psychological torture but there are no risks of long term health problems, physical damage, or death from withdrawal symptoms