Is There a Difference Between Rehab and Detox?

When a person is addicted to mind-altering substances, they generally lack the clarity to make a good decision. When they decide to begin their journey toward the addiction recovery process, they have so many choices, to the extent that no path is a certain one. They might ask a friend or relative to assist them in the decision of finding the right direction, or they might seek help from someone else in recovery. Let’s see if we can give you the information you need if they ask you for assistance in such matters: There are two primary routes: detox and rehab.


A detox is a place where the addict is guided and observed as their body is purged of the toxins. Knowing how each drug works, how it affects the body, and what to do if things get hairy is one of the most important things a detox offers. Detox programs are relatively short and purposely designed to help someone come off their high. They do not address the underlying issues that may have caused the addict to abuse substances, nor do they result in a long-term stay. The purpose is to dry out quickly and safely.

Rehab Facility

A rehab facility is designed to take an addict, either as an outpatient or an inpatient, and work to modify their behaviors. It is a longer-term program intended to move the addict into a safe environment (inpatient) and help them face the underlying issues that are destroying their ability to function without using drugs or alcohol. As an inpatient, they are more likely to succeed than as an outpatient because as an inpatient in rehab, they are ensconced within the confines of the facility; the therapist can dig deeper into the mind of the addict (among others seeking recovery too). As an outpatient, they will learn how to restructure their lives and face drug testing and spend time working with counselors. At the end of the day, they return to their home environment, which is contrary to the basic precept of recovery: avoiding people, places, and things that you associated with during your drug abuse days. Learning new behaviors is essential to recovery, and once a person has detoxed, they need to face themselves more than once a day. They need to reflect on their lives, how they got to where they are, and how they can move beyond today. A detox program won’t do that. A rehab facility will.


The important difference is that the detox program is a stepping stone to rehabilitation, not a program in and of itself. The rehab is the actual program. Many programs are for 90 days, and the rate of relapse is significantly higher as a result of little investment being placed while exploring one’s cause for abuse.

Final Words

When you want to live your life free of substance abuse, and you realize you can’t do it alone, make a conscious decision to do it the right way, and focus on your addiction recovery process.

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