Detox | 4 min read

Common Myths About the Drug Detox Process

Medically Reviewed

Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

On September 5, 2022

Written By

Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

On January 23, 2019

Common Myths About the Drug Detox Process
Reading Time: 4 minutes

There are many misconceptions about drug treatment and what it means to be an addict, and these myths can prevent a struggling person from seeking the help needed. With the prevalence of drug abuse and dependence currently plaguing our society, these misunderstandings must be dispelled. Recent data suggests more than 23 million Americans struggle with substance abuse and addiction, and detoxing can be vital in reducing this number. Some more common myths about drug detox are listed below, along with the facts surrounding the process.

I Have to Hit Bottom Before I Detox

While many do wait until their world has fallen apart to seek treatment, there is no reason to let things go so far before seeking help. Any problem which is addressed early is more likely to reduce collateral damage. With the myriad of examples of the outcome of drug abuse surrounding us, one does not need to see the bottom first-hand, to witness the effects. Early intervention techniques have a proven track record for resulting in full recovery. The overlying goal is to experience a higher quality of life, and getting help sooner rather than later can mean less repair work is called for.

Everyone Will Know About My Problem If I Go to Detox

Modern drug detox programs are designed to be discrete and often involve a stay of only a few days. Chances are that those closest to you are already aware that you are struggling with substance abuse issues and are likely to be supportive of taking a break to rid yourself of the effects. Even if this is not the case, neither social circles nor employers need to be privy to why you are taking a short vacation from regular life to tend to yourself. HIPPA laws only allow an employer to request a note from a doctor to excuse workplace absences, and the physician cannot disclose information – without your consent – about why the note is needed. In our current culture, some employers even approve of openly using sick time as a time for mental health maintenance and do not ask for details.

Detox Is for the Rich

Tabloids rarely go a week without sharing that some A-list celebrity has decided to check into a remote retreat for a month of sobriety. Unfortunately, the truth is that most who struggle with addiction don’t have the funds – or the luxury of extended time off from work – to participate in these types of programs. Fortunately, resources are available for finding local, short-term detoxing treatment facilities, many of which will accept insurance. The brief, in-house drug detox process is followed up with customized outpatient plans for maintaining recovery. This enables the participant to return to the routine of daily life as quickly as possible.

Detox Medications Are Just More Drugs

Medications are utilized to assist in a gentle transition toward being drug-free. However, these medications are designed to wean the body off dependence. Unlike in cases of self-medication, qualified detox treatment center providers ensure that only the correct doses are administered at the correct times. The use of these specialized medications is a method to avoid the mental health consequences associated with non-monitored drug usage and self-detoxing side effects and work to reduce any physical discomfort.

Religious Beliefs Are Required

While many drug treatment programs are known to provide clients with a structure that includes specific belief systems, following any particular doctrine is not a necessary aspect of recovery. The most important faith for recovery is that one has the belief that things can get better and that drug detox is an important first step toward living a more peaceful and fulfilling life. Surrounding oneself with compassionate, non-judgemental caregivers is vital to the process.

Drug Detox Hurts

Most of us have watched movies where the drug addict character holes up in a room, sweating and moaning for days as the drugs leave his system. While this may be a likely scenario for those who choose to go it alone, modern drug detox treatments are designed to make the process as gentle as possible. Specific medications for reducing withdrawal side effects are prescribed relative to the type and severity of the abused substance. In addition, care is taken to ensure that participants are as comfortable as possible, both physically and psychologically.

Detox Is the Goal

Some believe that getting the drugs out of the system is the key to recovery. In reality, this is only the first step on what may be a very long journey. The factors contributing to an individual’s tendency toward drug abuse do not disappear once the chemicals are expelled. Work-related stress, family issues, and feelings of hopelessness may even seem to increase once an individual is facing life head-on. A successful drug detox program will address these mental and emotional needs during and following your treatment.

Relapse Is the End

The process of overcoming addiction is not always a straight path up the mountain. The descent into drug addiction is sometimes referred to as a “downward spiral,” and the upward path can be similarly winding. Even with proper support, some will be tempted to try the drugs. While it bears to keep in mind that drug usage following detox can be very dangerous, it does not have to mean that the steps already taken toward recovery are worthless. Previous successes can be added to future successes, even if the previous successes were short-term.

I Can Do It By Myself

None of us exist in a social bubble. While autonomy is a praised trait within our culture, we rarely accomplish goals in complete isolation. Because our thinking is so often involved in continued drug abuse, it can be difficult to convince ourselves that a life without substances is possible. For every story of someone who beat a drug habit on their own, many more acknowledge the benefit of seeking assistance along the journey. For those chemically dependent on drugs or alcohol, a medically-supervised, private medical detox program is the safest and best option.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and seeking a drug or alcohol rehab center, the caring staff at Ascendant are here to help. Our inpatient detox in NYC can help you safely withdraw from drugs or alcohol and confidently begin your recovery journey.

Ascendant New York Editorial Guidelines

Here at Ascendant New York, we understand the importance of having access to accurate medical information you can trust, especially when you or a loved one is suffering from addiction. Find out more on our policy.

Amanda Stevens


Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. Read more

Find Out if You Are Covered by Insurance


  1. National Institutes of Health. 10 percent of US adults have drug use disorder at some point in their lives. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Published November 18, 2015. Accessed September 5, 2022.
  2. NIDA. 2022, March 22. Addiction and Health. Retrieved from on 2024, June 14
  3. US Department of Health and Human Services. EARLY INTERVENTION, TREATMENT, AND MANAGEMENT OF SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS. US Department of Health and Human Services; 2016. Accessed September 5, 2022.
  4. Employers and Health Information in the Workplace. Published November 2, 2020. Accessed September 5, 2022.
  5. Bartlett R, Brown L, Shattell M, Wright T, Lewallen L. Harm Reduction: Compassionate Care Of Persons with Addictions. Medsurg Nurs. 2013;22(6):349-358.
  6. Diaper AM, Law FD, Melichar JK. Pharmacological strategies for detoxification. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2014;77(2):302-314. doi:10.1111/bcp.12245
  7. FDA. FDA approves the first non-opioid treatment for management of opioid withdrawal symptoms in adults. FDA. Published May 16, 2018. Accessed September 5, 2022.