There are a total of 54 different drug and alcohol detox centers in Georgia according to the most recent SAMSHA research study of treatment facilities. Of these detox facilities, 19 provide residential inpatient detox. Which Atlanta detox center should you choose?
This is a complicated answer that will vary based on a number of factors specific to your individual needs.
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Do I Need To Go To Detox?
Every patient experiences withdrawal differently in terms of the types of symptoms as well as the severity and duration of them. Before determining if going to a Georgia medical detox is the right course of action for a patient, it is always best to consult with a medical professional familiar with that patient’s history and current level of wellness.
As a rule, any individuals for whom detoxing without medical assistance and supervision would potentially be dangerous or perhaps fatal should pursue medical detox as quickly as possible. Additionally, any patients whose withdrawal produces a level of pain or discomfort which greatly diminishes their ability to cope with the demands of daily living should consider medical detox as well.
Patients attempting to break dependencies to certain drugs are more likely than not to experience pronounced symptoms warranting medical detox. Examples are heroin, alcohol, prescription pain pills (including opiates as well as benzodiazepines), cocaine and methamphetamine.
Types of Detox Centers in Atlanta, GA
All Atlanta, Georgia detox programs are either inpatient or outpatient and are usually selected based on the severity of the case and/or the logistical needs of the patient. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) delineates types of facilities/levels of care as follows:
- Hospital Inpatient: A general or psychiatric hospital, providing intensive, medically-managed detox and 24-hour supervision. Generally the most optimal venue for patients having elaborate medical needs and/or at risk of complications arising from severe withdrawal.
- Medically-Monitored Inpatient: A standalone detoxification center staffed by medical professionals providing 24-hour monitoring.
- Residential Inpatient: Similar to a Medically-Monitored Inpatient detox, but often residing within a traditional rehab facility providing a greater emphasis on peer support and group therapy than on the administering of medical treatments.
- Intensive Outpatient: Typically in a hospital or physician’s office where patients arrive at scheduled intervals to complete treatment and remain for several hours to be monitored by licensed nurses to ensure that medications are working as planned with minimal or no side effects.
- Outpatient: Generally a physician’s office or standalone facility in which patients are only expected to be present for daily treatment sessions.
Other than inpatient versus outpatient, the most obvious distinction between Atlanta detox programs is public versus private. Public, or government-funded, detoxes are often very low-cost or even free, making them a good option for those who are economically disadvantaged and/or have no medical insurance. The downside is that many are underfunded and demand for them is often excessive, resulting in lengthy wait times to enter treatment, minimal personal attention given to each individual case, and very little ability to customize treatment to the needs of the patient.
Privately owned and operated facilities can run the entire gamut from minimalist to luxurious, but most private detoxes are superior to their public counterparts in terms of the quality of the facilities, credentials of the staff, level of care afforded to each individual patient, and flexibility to tailor care plans according to specific requirements. The cost for private detox services is generally significantly higher, but many insurance plans cover the majority of those costs after a small copay.
What to Expect
According to “Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment,” a Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM), medically assisted detox is traditionally undertaken in the following three steps:
- Evaluation: Patient is tested to determine which substances (and at what levels) may be present in his or her bloodstream. He or she is also evaluated for potential dual diagnoses or co-occurring disorders, as well as any preexisting mental/behavioral issues.
- Stabilization: Patient is guided through the detoxification process, most often with the assistance of medications. Counseling on what to expect during treatment and the remainder of one’s recovery process is also generally part of this step.
- Guiding Patient into Treatment: Patient is primed for the actual recovery process. Since detoxification only addresses the physical dependency of addiction (and not the psychological aspects of it), it is typically recommended at this stage that the patient commit to enrolling in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program.
Atlanta detox programs generally require 3-14 days depending on the severity of the case and the amount of time devoted per day. The physical detox process and accompanying withdrawal symptoms can be over in several days or take many months depending on a number of factors including, but not limited to, the type of substance one is addicted to, the duration and severity of the addiction, family history/genetics, and any medical and/or psychological conditions.
Although medical detox is designed to alleviate symptoms to where they are manageable, certain symptoms are unavoidable and will only subside over time through continued abstinence. Many of these, such as sleeplessness, nervousness/anxiety, and nausea, can be treated with prescription or over-the-counter medications which are beyond the scope of medical detox.
Benefits of Medically-Managed Detox
In addition to providing peace of mind from being in the hands of trained, credentialed professionals, medical detox programs provide the following benefits:
- Launching Pad to Recovery. In addition to providing a much needed medical service, detox programs lay the groundwork for guiding the patient into what will hopefully be a successful treatment program. According to “Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says” published by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, “Although detoxification alone is rarely sufficient to help addicts achieve long-term abstinence, for some individuals it is a strongly indicated precursor to effective drug addiction treatment.”
- Closed, Safe Environment. Whether a patient is fully immersed in an inpatient facility or simply attends several hours a day on an outpatient basis, he or she is able to experience temporary protection from stressful situations and other types of circumstances that trigger cravings and substance use.
- Focus on Sobriety. A controlled atmosphere free of outside distractions enables patients to concentrate on moving closer to recovery and further from their drug of choice.
- Continuity of Care. Patients enrolling in rehabilitation treatment following detox often benefit from the ability to attend the same treatment facility for both phases as they have access to the same resources they are already familiar with and are usually attended to by professionals who are familiar with their case histories, and with whom they have already developed a rapport. Additionally they may have the added benefit of receiving outpatient services alongside individuals with whom they formed friendships during the detox process.
Even if a detox facility does not offer a treatment program, it is typically affiliated with such programs as well as other service providers of interest to patients ready to transition to a treatment program or sober living.
FAQ Guide For Finding an Atlanta Detox Center
Since detox is the critical first step in the treatment process, it is important to put as much effort as possible into finding the right one. The following considerations should be taken into account during the selection process:
How reputable is the program?
A good, well-respected Atlanta detox program will be highlighted by positive press and reviews on the internet and be highly recommended by members of the addiction treatment and medical communities.
How qualified are the staff?
Doctors, counselors, nurses and other support personnel should all have the training, credentials and certification necessary to provide the highest level of service possible; evidence of these qualifications should be readily available on the program’s website.
Does the facility have JCAHO accreditation?
The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) periodically inspects all Georgia drug and alcohol detox facilities, and providers of detox services are expected to demonstrate adherence to rigorous operational and safety standards in order to receive and maintain accreditation.
Is the program covered by insurance? What would be the total out-of-pocket cost of the program (with or without insurance)?
Many insurance plans cover most of the expenditures associated with detox services, but not all programs are recognized by insurance carriers as being legitimate detox providers. In the event that the program is not covered, or that the patient is not insured, it is important to inquire as to the total cost up front and find out if any payment assistance options are available.
Are the accommodations adequate for the needs of the patient?
In an inpatient setting, the facility and staff should be capable of working with any dietary restrictions and special needs the patient may have.
Does the program offer the ability to customize a care plan to the needs of the patient?
Detox is not a “one size fits all” endeavor, and needs can vary drastically from one patient to another. The flexibility of the program to work closely with the patient to tailor a plan according to his or her needs should be evident in the program’s literature or website.
Does the detox program take an evidence-based approach to treatment?
Many experimental treatment methodologies and medications currently exist which are still too new or scarcely utilized to be scientifically proven to have long-term effectiveness. It is always preferable to seek out programs which adhere to evidence-based protocols in their treatment model.
How much emphasis is placed on aftercare?
A good Atlanta detox center will continually instill in its patients the importance of taking the necessary steps to further their recovery once detox has been completed. Exit assessments, referrals to (and affiliations with) inpatient/outpatient treatment or sober living providers, and counseling sessions to devise long-term recovery plans are all hallmarks of a program with an optimal approach toward aftercare.