If you’re considering medical detox as a way to help you start your journey to recover from a substance use disorder—whether it’s a chemical dependency on alcohol, cocaine, meth amphetamine, benzodiazepines, heroin, opioids or other substances—there are a number of factors it will be wise for you to properly evaluate.
First and foremost, it’s important to emphasize that professionals in the field of addiction medicine, as well as governmental agencies tasked with educating the public about substance use disorders, all agree – medically detoxing from an addictive drug or alcohol may be considered an essential “first step” to becoming free of the obsession and compulsion to drink or use drugs, but it’s not the only step. Indeed, for most people, continuing on to get treatment for a chemical dependency is necessary if you’re to “stay stopped” and begin to build a new life in recovery.
Hence, once you’ve medically detoxed, it’s strongly suggested by all of these groups that you keep your recovery journey going by starting treatment at an addiction treatment center that suits your needs.
As for finding a medical detox facility that’s right for you, there are some important elements it would be good to consider. Asking the admission staff at any of the medical detox facilities you’re considering a few key questions will help you determine whether or not the facility you’re evaluating is a good fit.
- Will your detox facility work with my insurance company?
- What does your facility’s staff do to reduce or ease a person’s withdrawal symptoms?
- Is developing a recovery network part of the treatment protocol your center uses? If so, how do you facilitate that?
- What resources and support does your detox facility offer after I’m done detoxing?
1. Will your detox facility work with my insurance company?
While many insurance providers cover behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment, it’s good to get clarity about whether or not the detox facility(ies) you’re considering accepts your insurance plan and your particular insurance coverage. For example, which, if any, of these, do they cover?
· Medical detox
· Inpatient care in an approved facility
· Outpatient care with an approved provider
· Co-occurring mental health conditions
· Follow-up counseling
So that you don’t have any problems going forward, be sure to contact the facility and talk with someone responsible for their admissions. They can check with your insurance company and ensure whether or not your insurance plan will cover you sufficiently.
2. What does your facility’s staff do to reduce or ease a person’s withdrawal symptoms?
Withdrawal symptoms have been defined as “abnormal physical or psychological features that follow the abrupt discontinuation of a drug that has the capability of producing physical dependence.”
And these “abnormal” effects you may experience from stopping your intake of alcohol or drugs can range from discomforting and painful to severely harsh and even life-threatening. Withdrawal symptoms can include:
· Nausea and/or diarrhea
· Severe anxiety
· Insomnia/inability to sleep
· Fever and/or chills
· Muscle cramps and body aches
By proactively asking the admissions staff about how they specifically will address any serious or acute withdrawal symptoms you may experience, you’ll know in advance how they can provide you with particular protocols or medications suited to the symptoms that can arise and help make them more manageable.
At any certified detox center, the staff there will be licensed and trained healthcare professionals who can continually monitor you, as you go through the detoxing process.
3. Is developing a recovery network part of the treatment protocol your center uses? If so, how do you facilitate that?
As is often heard in recovery meetings, “Staying connected is essential to staying clean and sober.” Having people around you—especially after you medically detox—who are not only “supportive” of your recovery, but who “get” you from their own experience of recovering from addiction. For it’s these people who can wholeheartedly back you, reassure, guide you, call you out when necessary, and inspire you to maintain your recovery, even when it gets challenging.
So this is another vital question to ask the admissions people at the detox facility you’re considering. How do they help you stay connected with a community of recovering people?
Recovery support groups, like 12-Steps fellowships or those offered by many addiction treatment centers, ongoing individual and/or family therapy groups, and alumni groups can all play an invaluable role in your building a strong foundation for your lifelong recovery. Be sure to find out what the detox facility you’re evaluating has to offer in these regards.
As was said earlier, medical detoxing can be a life-saving first step in your liberation from chemical dependency. But given the true nature of recovery, it’ll be wise to find out precisely how the detox facility(ies) you’re researching addresses the oftentimes gutwrenching demands of withdrawal symptoms and prepares you for your life going forward, free from active addiction.
 SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) | National Institutes of Health (NIH); National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (nih.gov)
 5 Question to Ask Before Entering Detox – Indiana Center for Recovery (treatmentindiana.com)
 Medical Definition of Withdrawal symptoms (medicinenet.com)