Medical detox from drugs or alcohol is essential for individuals with a long history of substance or alcohol addiction, those who have previously experienced severe withdrawal symptoms, or those with underlying medical conditions. The main purpose of medical detox is to ensure the safety and comfort of the individual going through withdrawal.

The Dangers of Self-Detox

For some people, withdrawal can be dangerous. There are several severe health risks associated with such cases making it highly advisable to engage a professional medical detox service. It’s worth noting that withdrawal from certain substances, particularly alcohol and benzodiazepines, can actually be fatal without appropriate medical supervision.

Around 50% of alcoholics experience withdrawal symptoms and 4% develop severe symptoms. Of that 4% up to 15% die.

Severe alcohol withdrawal can result in DT’s (delirium tremens) leading to deep confusion symptoms of severe alcohol withdrawal with profound confusion, autonomic hyperactivity (the autonomic nervous system controls heart rate, blood pressure and respiration), and cardiovascular collapse.

A medically managed detox provides a structured clinical environment that minimises withdrawal risks like seizures, hallucinations, and dehydration.

Medical Detox from Drugs or Alcohol: FACTS

  • Medical detox is the first step in addiction treatment. Abstinence does not equal recovery, it’s a pre-requisite for treatment and recovery.
  • Medical detox manages withdrawal symptoms, reducing the risk of complications
  • A medically managed detox increases the chances of successful long-term recovery.
  • Medical detoxification is recommended for individuals with severe addiction or co-occurring medical conditions.
  • A medically managed addiction detox helps improve both physical and mental health outcomes

Will Discovery Medical Aid Cover Medical Detox?

Discovery Medical Aid provides financial cover for drug and alcohol addiction treatment in South Africa.


Changes Addiction Rehab can facilitate the pre-authorisation and admission process from beginning to end.

We offer a free callback service 24/7 on 081-444-7000 or email: [email protected]


Medical Detox from Drugs or Alcohol Addiction Rehab Johannesburg

Medical Aid Pays for Inpatient Addiction Treatment in Johannesburg. It’s highly likely that your medical aid scheme will pay for addiction to drugs or alcohol rehabilitation. Regardless of whether you are on a top plan, lower plan or even a hospital plan. Addiction treatment is a PMB and whether you’re on Discovery Executive and Comprehensive series or a hospital plan, it should cover your addiction treatment.

All of the below South African Medical Aid Schemes should cover 21 days of in-patient addiction rehab. Contact us and we’ll check for you. If your medical aid is not on this list, we’ll check your benefits for you.

  • Discovery Health
  • Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS)
  • Bonitas Medical Fund
  • South African Police Service Medical Scheme (POLMED)
  • Momentum Medical Scheme
  • Bankmed
  • LA-Health Medical Scheme
  • Bestmed Medical Scheme
  • Medihelp
  • Medshield Medical Scheme
  • Fedhealth Medical Scheme
  • Sizwe Hosmed Medical Fund
  • Platinum Health
  • Sasolmed
  • Umvuzo Health Medical Scheme
  • SAMWUMed
  • Profmed
  • Keyhealth
  • Hosmed Medical Aid Scheme
  • Nedgroup Medical Aid Scheme

Enough of the medical aid stuff, back to medical detoxification from drugs and alcohol

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms can manifest in various forms, ranging from mild to intense. These symptoms could include sweating, tremors, insomnia, and nausea. In more severe cases, symptoms like hallucinations, seizures, and delirium tremens could occur. It’s worth noting that withdrawal from certain substances, particularly alcohol and benzodiazepines, can actually be fatal without appropriate medical supervision.

Cycle of Relapse

Attempting self-detoxification without the necessary medical support may lead to a vicious cycle of relapse. The presence of withdrawal symptoms can make an individual feel compelled to use substances again in order to lessen the discomfort. This unplanned usage often results in an intensified substance dependency, thus perpetuating the cycle of relapse. Medical detox in Johannesburg provides the professional assistance and intervention required to break this hazardous cycle.

The Science Behind Medical Detox

Medical detoxification’s objective is to methodically remove toxic substances from the body, while concurrently managing the potential physiological aftermath.

Metabolizing Toxins

The human body is naturally designed to metabolize and eliminate toxins, but the level of harmful substances that result from excessive drug or alcohol intake overwhelms this natural process. Those suffering from alcohol and drug addiction often have high levels of these toxins, making the detoxification process complex and potentially dangerous when handled without medical oversight.

The Role of the Liver

Tasks with detoxification is primarily the liver. This crucial organ utilises a two-phase enzymatic process to neutralise harmful chemicals or molecules. However, persistent substance abuse can significantly alter the liver’s functionality, making the detoxification process far more strenuous and perilous.

Medical Intervention in Detox

Clinicians administer medications that mimic the effects of the addictive substance thereby reducing cravings. Managing withdrawal symptoms and mitigating risk is important. The dosage of these substitutes is gradually reduced until the patient no longer experiences any dependency symptoms – a process known as tapering.

The Care of Medical Professionals

The value of having medical professionals overseeing the detoxification process cannot be overstated. These experts comprehensively monitor vital signs, ensuring withdrawal does not trigger dangerous health conditions such as arrhythmia or seizures. The multi-disciplinary nature of the medical detox team further enhances holistic care, incorporating psychological and nutritional support in conjunction with medical treatment.

Evidence-Based Approach

Medical detox from alcohol utilises an evidence-based approach, leveraging scientific research and clinical studies to tailor individually-oriented treatments. In the context of addiction recovery, customisation is fundamental as the severity of addiction and the physical response to withdrawal vary significantly between individuals.   

The science behind medical detox from drugs or alcohol in Johannesburg is a complex interplay of pharmacology, physiology and psychology. Through medical intervention, detoxification becomes a safer and more comfortable process, offering addicts a viable path towards recovery. The value of such a medical intervention, specifically within the context of Johannesburg, is immeasurable – making medical detox not only a necessity but also a life-saving measure.

What can I expect during medical detox?

Medical detox from drugs or alcohol in Johannesburg offers a safe, controlled and supervised setting that begins with a comprehensive evaluation that takes into account the substance of abuse, duration of use, current health status, and any underlying medical conditions. This assessment helps our doctors to determine the appropriate care the individual needs.

A personalised detox plan is then put into place. During the heart of the detox programme, patients may experience withdrawal symptoms. However, in a medical detox setting, healthcare professionals are available round-the-clock to monitor and manage these symptoms.

Medications may be administered to alleviate the distressing physical and psychological symptoms of detoxification and promote comfort. In addition to medical staffing, therapists and psychiatric professionals are also on hand to help manage any emotional distress.

Detox is not recovery, is a stepping stone towards recovery. Therefore, the multidisciplinary team would ensure to provide counselling and support for overall wellbeing and prepare the individual for the subsequent steps in their recovery journey.

Medical detox from drugs or alcohol in Johannesburg is a multi-dimensional process that is medically managed and compassionately driven. It is designed to safely eliminate harmful toxins from the body, manage the discomfort of withdrawal, and lay the groundwork for successful recovery.