When someone is dealing with addiction and ready to get help, one of the first steps is detox or the process of stopping drug or alcohol use. This process can involve some uncomfortable or dangerous physical symptoms — which is where a medical detox center comes in. These centers are staffed with doctors and nurses who are trained in addition and detox, so they can help your loved one get through withdrawal safely.
Detox is almost always uncomfortable; in some cases, it can be life-threatening. Medical detox centers monitor the symptoms, help manage pain, and provide invaluable support for both mental and physical health. This process helps keep the patient as comfortable as possible. When the detox is over, most people are ready to continue on with addiction treatment. For many people with addiction, the fear of the unknown is serious; when that’s the case, it’s helpful to know exactly what to expect when you take a friend or family member to a medical detox center.
Consultation, Evaluation, and Admission to a Medical Detox Center
When you arrive at a medical detox center, the first step is an evaluation and consultation. Your loved one will meet with a substance abuse specialist to discuss the situation. This person, sometimes in combination with an admissions professional, will figure out what’s needed during the detox process. They will come up with a care plan that takes into account factors such as:
- History of drug or alcohol use
- The current level of drugs or alcohol in your system
- Prior treatment experience
- Medical history and current health issues
- Mental health concerns
It’s important to encourage your loved one to be completely honest during this process; even when it’s hard, this honesty helps the medical team create the most comfortable detox plan. During the intake process, the health professional will also request drug testing. This helps the center figure out exactly what substances are in the person’s system, so they can create an appropriate plan for detox. Once they have a plan, the medical team will explain it to you thoroughly — at the end of the process, you should know exactly what to expect and understand exactly what the doctors and nurses will do. If you’re happy with the treatment plan, you’ll need to fill out intake forms and be admitted to the facility.
Stabilizing the Patient
The next step in medical detox is stabilization. During this stage, your loved one will stay in the detox facility. Since there are no more drugs and alcohol coming into their system, they will start to go into withdrawal. Exact withdrawal symptoms vary dramatically based on the substance and the person’s history. The doctors and nurses at the facility help keep the patient comfortable during the process. They may prescribe medications to help control pain or keep the patient safe. In some cases, the medical staff delivers fluids and nutritional supplements if the patient can’t keep down water and food. Most importantly, they provide constant supervision, so your loved one is always safe and unable to relapse.
Another important part of medical detox is psychological support. Detox is stressful, so the facility’s mental health staff are a key part of the process. They take away some of the fear by explaining what to expect, and they provide a soothing, comforting presence during the worst moments. This support is instrumental in getting your loved one through the fear and anxiety that comes with detoxing.
Preparing for the Next Steps
For most people with addiction, medical detox on its own isn’t enough to treat the problem. It stabilizes them, so they’re mentally and physically strong enough to undergo further treatment. This might include a rehab center or outpatient therapy, depending on the situation.
At the end of the medical detox process, when the substances are out of your loved one’s body and they’re thinking clearly, the healthcare team will talk about the next steps. Usually, with the help of a counselor, they’ll come up with a plan moving forward. Most importantly, they help prepare the patient mentally for the things they can expect in treatment and make them aware of their options. This process helps the person feel that there is hope, and that help for addiction is available.
If you or a loved one is in need of medical detox, or if you simply want to find out more about addiction treatment options, we’re just a call away. We can help you figure out the best next step for your unique situation; just call us today at 800-737-0933.