Doctor writing word Detox with marker, Medical - prepare for drug and alcohol detox

The choice to take steps to stop active addiction typically begins with the decision to seek addiction treatment. The first step in that process usually involves entering a drug and alcohol detox center in order to manage any withdrawal symptoms, get any mental health issues under control, and get physically and emotionally stable to then engage in a longer-term treatment process.

Before going to a drug and alcohol detox, it is essential for potential patients and their family members and loved ones to be informed and prepared to ensure a safe, comfortable, and successful detox process. Patients entering detox and treatment, and their family members and loved ones, need to make sure that the facility is the right fit, as well as understand what the process will look like while in detox and transitioning to treatment afterwards.

Here are some key things that individuals and loved ones should know to prepare before going to a drug and alcohol detox:

Understanding the Detox Process:

Detox is usually the first step in addiction treatment and involves separating the patient physically from substances, removing toxins from the body, and managing any accompanying physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms. Detox can be physically and emotionally challenging. The types of medication used for a detox process will differ depending on the different substances someone has been using and the length of time they have been using them. The length of withdrawal symptoms will also depend on those factors. Each person will receive a medical assessment after admission to determine the level of care required during detox, the appropriate medications, and additional medical protocols.

Choosing the Right Facility:

It is important to research different detox and treatment options. Consider factors such as location (does someone need to be close to home, away from home, ect.), the physical environment (is the facility clean and comfortable, offering a dignified or luxury aesthetic), the qualifications of the staff, and the approaches used. Some detoxes only focus on medical care and withdrawal management; however, it is important to make sure that a detox offers clinical services from therapists and counselors, has a psychiatrist on staff, and includes individualized care. It is important that a patient receives individual and group therapy and counseling while in detox. It is also important that important stakeholders in that patient’s life are included in communication and aftercare planning.

Duration of Detox and Length of Stay:

The duration of detox can vary depending on the types of drugs being used by the individual, the patient’s overall health and associated medical conditions, and the severity of addiction. The acute detox may last a few days to a couple of weeks. There is also something known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS), which occur from the lingering effects of drug or alcohol withdrawal, that can occur for weeks or months after detox. Length-of-stay at a detox can also vary, sometimes as short as 7-10 days, but can also include an extended stabilization period to make sure the patient is both physically and emotionally stable, which can last between 14 days and 21 days.

Aftercare Planning:

Again, detox is typically the first step in the addiction treatment process. While many patients often believe that they only need detox, rarely do patients detox, not follow any aftercare plans that include treatment, clinical care, and recovery support, and thrive. When a patient only goes to detox and does not engage in any aftercare, what often occurs is that they are at a higher risk of relapse, they do relapse, and get caught in a revolving door of detox. When entering detox, be prepared to discuss and plan for ongoing addiction treatment. This can look like many different options, and all aftercare planning should be individualized and customized to the patient’s clinical needs and life responsibilities.

Detox is Not a Cure nor the Only Step to Take:

Detox is not the answer to stop active addiction. Instead, detox is an intervention that can separate an individual from using drugs and alcohol and get through often difficult withdrawal symptoms. It is important to understand that detox alone is not a cure or answer. Detox is the initial step to find physical sobriety and get any acute mental health issues managed, then prepare for ongoing addiction treatment and recovery support. This will occur during the aftercare planning stage, which may include residential treatment or inpatient rehab, extended care treatment, outpatient treatment like PHP or IOP, a sober living or recovery house, therapy, counseling, psychiatry, or support groups.

Cost and Insurance:

It is important that a patient and their family understand the costs associated with detox. If a patient has insurance, will the insurance cover some or all of the cost of detox and treatment. It is important to understand insurance coverage, as each insurance plan is different and may have a different out-of-pocket cost based on the plan deductible, out-of-pocket maximum, or copay. It is also important to understand what insurances are accepted at a detox and rehab, both in-network and out-of-network. If a detox does not accept insurance (or the specific insurance of the patient), what is the cost out-of-pocket, do they offer a sliding scale, and may they offer financial aid, financial assistance, or scholarships. Whatever the case, a potential patient and their family should know up front before admission all the out-of-pocket costs for detox and treatment services.

Legal and Employment Considerations:

Many people in active addiction face consequences due to their addiction. They may have legal issues, employment issues, family issues, or financial issues. Depending on those circumstances, a person may need to consider those issues related to entering detox and treatment. Is the person court mandated to treatment? Do the courts or any legal professionals need to be involved? Are there marital issues taking place, like a divorce or custody issue? Is a person’s job telling them they need to seek treatment, and do human resources representatives from their job or does an employee assistance program (EAP) need to be involved? Do they need to take a leave from work and apply for FMLA? It is important to consider these issues, as well as make sure that the detox and treatment center is able to communicate with anyone involved in these issues in order to best support the patient getting the help that they need.

Personal Commitment:

Finally, not everyone entering detox and treatment do it for themselves. Often, they are looking to stop consequences from occurring, such as saving their marriage or job, or avoiding jail. There is no bad reason for going to detox and treatment. However, detox and treatment will be most effective if the patient is personally committed to recovery and looking to overcome their addiction and find a life free from drugs and alcohol. It is important to be open and honest and actively engage in the detox and treatment process.

If you or someone you know needs help with 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