Steps to Finding a Drug and Alcohol Detox

Which drug and Alcohol Detox is right for you?

If you’re struggling with addiction, the decision to seek treatment is the first step to changing your life. But after making that decision, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of the next step.

If your addiction is severe, you can’t simply stop using. You may need to detox in the care of medical professionals. Detox is physically painful and emotionally draining. You’ll want to make sure you’re in good hands. Depending on where you live, there may be many detox centers to choose from. So how do you figure out which one is right for you?

Do You Need Drug or Alcohol Detox?

Over time, your brain and body adjust to the presence of drugs in your system. This is why you experience intense cravings when you don’t have access to your substance of choice. Also, why with certain drugs, you’ll experience withdrawals when you stop using. Depending on the substance, these withdrawal symptoms can range in severity from simply uncomfortable to physically dangerous. Even fatal.

If you incur severe withdrawal symptoms soon after you stop using, you probably need detox. And if you’re detoxing from alcohol, benzodiazepines or opioids (for example heroin or prescription painkillers), it’s recommended that you always do so under medical supervision. Professional detox is also recommended for those who have co-occurring mental health concerns. This is known as polydrug addiction – an addiction to more than one substance.

Inpatient or Outpatient Detoxification?

Outpatient Treatment

Depending on the severity of your addiction, you could be a candidate for outpatient treatment, which would allow you to sleep at home but attend treatment during the day. This is an option only if your withdrawal symptoms are minimal. You should make this decision with the help of an addictions specialist. Outpatient treatment is best for those who don’t have a long history of drug or alcohol abuse. Also, those who have a safe home environment and are in otherwise good physical and mental health.

If you don’t meet the criteria for outpatient treatment, you have a few options for inpatient programs. Hospitals have traditionally supported the detox process, but the aftercare is minimal and you will likely be on lockdown in the hospital’s psychiatric ward. Hospital facilities aren’t normally comfortable and do not allow contact with the outside world. The advantage to detoxing in a hospital is that if there’s a medical emergency, you’ll receive immediate treatment.

Inpatient Detox

If you’d like a more comfortable and supportive setting to safely detox, then you should consider a private inpatient rehab facility. You’ll receive round-the-clock clinical care, medications to alleviate detox symptoms and counseling to help you work through the issues that drive your addiction. These facilities often allow you to bring your phone and other personal devices and also allow loved ones to visit. Additionally, you’ll get a specialized treatment plan based on your needs, rather than the cookie-cutter 12-Step programs that hospitals normally offer.

Finding the Right Detox Program for You

Here are some questions to help you determine what type of facility to look for, based on your unique needs.

  • Do you need a facility that accepts insurance?

Depending on your financial situation, you may need to find a facility that cooperates with insurance companies. It’s important to ask this up front before you get too far into the planning process.

  • What certifications should the detox center and its staff have?

The detox center should be certified by the Joint Commission, a nonprofit body that evaluates healthcare organizations to ensure they provide safe and effective treatment. A detox center should have medical doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, and counselors on staff. 

  • Do you need treatment for co-occurring disorders?

If you need treatment for co-occurring disorders, make sure the facility you choose has specialized clinicians on staff who are able to treat you, and ask any facility you speak to if they would make a personalized treatment plan that takes your co-occurring disorders into account.

  • Can you bring your pet?

Your pet is a part of your family, and sometimes the only family you have. Also, If you feel anxiety at being separated from your beloved pet, find a facility that can accommodate you both. Many pet-friendly rehabs exist.

  • How far are you willing to travel?

If you need to stay close to home, that will narrow down your options for detox centers. However, you may want to remove yourself completely from a toxic environment by traveling to another state. Determine if you’re willing to travel, where you’d like to go and what type of environment would work best for you.

  • What will you do after detox?

Detox lasts anywhere from three to seven days – but it’s only the first step in a long journey to recovery. Consider staying on to complete a 30, 60 or 90-day stay at the facility to develop healthy habits that will support continuing sobriety. Choose a facility that can accommodate your desired length of treatment.

  • How will you stay sober after detox?

You may want to consider completing an intensive outpatient addiction treatment program after detox, or you can choose to pursue outpatient treatment after a stay in a facility. The facility you choose should offer to develop a comprehensive aftercare plan for you. A strong alumni network, help with finding recovery groups, and a relapse prevention plan should all be offered by the facility you choose if you’re concerned about relapse.

Getting the Addiction Help You Need

The decision to enter detox is the first step to getting and staying healthy. But the detox process can be mentally and physically taxing: it’s important to have the right care in place to keep you comfortable and safe.

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