Some people require a withdrawal management service, colloquially referred to as “detox” or detoxification treatment. This is for people who have a physical dependence on alcohol or other drugs. Physical dependence is when people:

  • Need to increase how much they take to get the same effect and/or
  • Suffer physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms if they stop drinking or using drugs

The goal of detox is to ensure the person who wants to stop or reduce the amount of alcohol and/or drugs they are taking is supported to do so as safely and comfortably as possible.

Abstinence is often the immediate treatment goal. Detox is not usually effective on its own in producing long-term abstinence; service providers see it as a first treatment stage for those who require it.

Withdrawal management services are provided in a range of settings. Services can be provided at the service user’s home, in a dedicated community residential support facility, or in a dedicated in-patient medical facility. Withdrawal can sometimes be life-threatening and may require specialist medical management. Some services utilise complementary therapies such as mirimiri and rongoa during the course of withdrawal.

We encourage people with signs of withdrawal to contact a specialised service.