Entering a medical detox for drugs and alcohol is often the first step in an individual’s process of addiction treatment and personal recovery. Whether it was years in active addiction to drugs and alcohol, or just a short period of time misusing substances, detox offers a safe, supportive environment where someone can be medically separate from drugs and alcohol comfortably, and be brought to a place of physical, mental, and emotional stabilization.


However, for many people suffering from substance use disorder, the thought of stopping the use of drugs and alcohol can be terrifying. Concern for withdrawal can be scary, but also can be the idea of how to live life sober and free of substances. Therefore, when talking to someone about getting help for drug and alcohol addiction, there will often be trepidation, concern, worry, and fear. They will ask a lot of questions and want to plan for the easiest and smoothest way to immediately go from active addiction to physically and mentally feeling good in sobriety. While we know that going from active addiction to recovery is neither a quick or immediate process, and someone’s need for immediate gratification or a 100% painless process is not only unlikely but entirely impossible, there are ways of making someone who has worry about going to detox feel better, safe, and supported and ways to make the experience as comfortable and efficient as possible.


So, what happens during detox for drugs and alcohol?

The first thing that occurs typically is a phone call to a detox facility of treatment center. You will connect with someone in admissions and have a conversation about your current situation. Hopefully, you will call a rehab where the admissions department is onsite at the facility, and not a call center or a national referral line. Make sure to ask that the person you’re speaking with works for the treatment center you’re trying to reach and that they do in fact work onsite. The best way to ensure this, alongside asking, is to go to the direct website of the facility and not call a toll-free number on a website that lists multiple facilities. Once you have established the person does work at the detox, they will ask you questions regarding your current situation. Some of the questions may include:


  • What event occurred that made you make the call for detox and treatment?
  • What substances are you currently using?
  • How much are you using and work how long?
  • Have you ever been to treatment before and/or have you ever been able to find recovery before?
  • Do you have health insurance? If so, what type of insurance?
  • Additional questions may include some background information, or information on your family, living situation, or employment. Calls should be confidential, and you should never be forced to disclose more information than you are comfortable with, however it is also important to mention that the more information you can share, the better the admissions specialist will be to offer help


During the initial phone call:

The admissions person will share with you information about the detox. Such information should include things like what the program is like, how the program works, how the facility or detox is staffed, how you’ll receive support, what medications are typically used during detox, how long the detox and withdrawal management process typically lasts, and what the length of stay is if you admit to the facility.


After the initial phone call:

…where you hopefully feel comfortable with the information that was shared, usually the admissions person will collect some demographic and insurance information and check your benefits. They will then follow up with a phone call with you to go over those benefits. This will give you a total cost, if any, of detox and treatment. Sometimes services can cost nothing, depending on if you have met your health insurance deductible and any out-of-pocket maximum, while other times it may cost something, depending on if you have any out-of-pocket costs. For individuals without health insurance, the facility should discuss what the cost of treatment will be, which can include financial conversations if there are financial hardships or if the facility can work on a sliding scale. Sometimes on this follow up call up there will be a date set for admission and a prescreen done. Or perhaps another call is set up to do a prescreen. This will allow the facility to gather all the necessary admissions information, and then share it internally with medical and clinical staff in order to make sure that you are able to admit, and that the facility is adequately able to meet your medical and clinical needs. Finally, they will make sure to get any information that you might need to support you while you’re in detox. Some examples of this are: getting information about employment if you need to take FMLA or information if you need to take a medical leave from school, speaking to family or loved ones that may be involved, or working with law enforcement or the court system if they may be involved in your situation.


On the date of admission:

You will enter the facility. Most treatment centers or rehabs will ask that you do not drive yourself. Either that you are driven by a loved one or that transportation can be arranged. No one wants someone in need of a detox driving themselves unnecessarily and putting themselves and other drivers on the road at risk.


Upon entering detox:

you will do your intake, where you will share necessary information, be given all necessary paperwork to review and sign, learn where everything is at the facility and get your bearings, and begin to feel comfortable during your stay. You will meet with a nurse who will do a history and physical with you and meet with the doctor and/or psychiatrist at the facility, who will discuss with you your situation, review your history, and begin your detox protocol. Depending on your history, the amount and frequency of the substances you’re using, and the type of substances, these will be individualized to your unique situation. It will then be explained how much and how often you’ll receive the prescribed FDA-approved detox medications during your stay. You will also be assigned a clinical therapist or counselor, who will support you clinically during your stay.


While in detox:

the primary purpose is to be safely and comfortably separated from substances, but it is also important that you begin to engage clinically in the treatment program. During your stay, you’ll be given a schedule that will include individual time to meet with your therapist or counselor, as well as a group schedule. Being detox, groups are not intense, and focus more on educational topics. There may be lectures or videos, but most groups will be psychoeducational in nature. There will also be meetings brought in by local members of the community that are in 12-Step fellowships like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA.) Other recovery-oriented meetings may be brought in, such as SMART Recovery or Refuge Recovery meetings. You will also meet and spend some time with a continuing care coordinator. This person is meant to work with you and your therapist or counselor in order to set up a plan for you once you successfully discharge from detox. They will gather all the necessary information from you and all the clinical information from your clinician, and help you set up what your next steps will be to get the necessary treatment, clinical services, and/or recovery support you will need in order to continue with your treatment plan. This can include things like finding a residential rehab or treatment center, finding an extended care treatment center or a Partial Hospitalization (PHP) or Intensive Outpatient (IOP) program. This could also include finding a local therapist, counselor, and/or psychiatrist in your local area, or a recovery house or sober home.


Your time in detox should be of the utmost comfort, so you’ll be given a big, comfortable room with a nice bed and furniture that you can relax in during your stay. Your room may be a single or some facilities have dual occupancy, with two patients per room. You’ll get a clean bathroom with shower.  Most rooms have large televisions and cable. Here at Innovo Detox, we also offer numerous social community rooms, such as our game room, that includes a large screen TV, foosball table, and many boardgames, as well as our more quiet, meditative room, that is full of books and a fireplace, but also comes equipped with a large screen television. There are other quiet areas around Innovo Detox, as well as a quiet and seclude outdoor patio area, where patients can play catch or cornhole when it’s nice outside, as well as go to smoke.


One of the biggest questions about entering a detox is: What is the food going to be like? Many people are terrified that they will be eating hospital or cafeteria food while in detox or rehab. In most cases, that is entirely untrue. For example, here at Innovo Detox we have a culinary team, led by Chef Liam Surry, that create daily menus of 5-Star restaurant quality dishes. Food is important during detox, so Chef Liam and our cooks prepare hearty, filling meals to help you through and get much needed energy. While menus are prepared daily, our culinary staff also can make patients whatever they would like off the menu, as well as design specific menus for patients that may have any allergies, health-related issues, or dietary restrictions. Snacks and drinks are also offered round-the-clock, to make sure patients get whatever they need when hungry or thirsty during their stay.


While in detox, you’ll go through your treatment schedule of individual counseling or therapy, your daily group schedule, and see the doctors and nurse practitioners. You’ll get your medication schedule for your detox protocol, and go receive medications when it’s time, to make sure you’re comfortably getting through detox and that any withdrawal symptoms are being managed. You’ll get to spend time alone in your room watching TV, or out in the community with other patients, whichever makes you feel most comfortable. Towards the end of your stay, you will begin working with the staff at detox to set you up on your next steps as you prepare to move on in treatment and begin your process of recovery. While you may be tired or stressed, or dealing with withdrawals, you will receive clinical and emotional support from staff. Your detox will be monitored, so that if you are dealing with anxiety or depression or other mental health issues while in detox, the doctors and nurses can manage it with appropriate medications. Within a few days, you’ll begin to feel better physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Detox is only a short period of time, usually between 7-to-10 days, and you’ll begin to feel better even before that time. When it comes time to leave and move on in your recovery, you’ll look back and feel like a new person, renewed with hope and optimism, and wonder why you were ever so scared or worried in the first place.


If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorders, please give us a call. Innovo Detox offers the latest in evidence-based medical, psychiatric, and clinical care for those in need of detox and medical stabilization in Pennsylvania and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or a loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a detox, rehab, treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (717) 619-3260 or email our team at info@innovodetox.com. For more information on our company or services, please visit our website at www.innovodetox.com.