No matter what the illness, medical professionals realize that no two patients are alike and, thus, must tailor treatment accordingly. For example, some heart patients may respond well to a modified diet while others may need special medication to achieve the same result.
The same holds true for alcoholism and the alcohol detox process. For most patients, a medically supervised alcohol detox program is necessary.
Alcohol Detox Program Info
Depending on the alcohol detox programs available, many will provide medications which are designed to reduce the painful cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol detox. When enrolling in an inpatient alcohol detox program, medications can also be given to the patient to actually prevent the urge to drink. Enrolling in an outpatient program will allow you to go through alcohol detox treatment, still keep your own schedule, and still be under the care of an alcohol detox specialist.
In sum, alcohol detox interrupts compulsive drinking while reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms. A good alcohol detox program will prepare the patient for prolonged substance abuse treatment and foster commitment to sobriety.
Alcohol Detox Program Process
Alcohol detox intake personnel must screen potential alcohol detox patients to determine the proper location and intensity of the detox program. It is important to verify the extent of the addiction prior to the alcohol detox process, to assess how strong the withdrawals will be, and if inpatient detox is recommended over outpatient detox programs. At the same time, patients should be offered treatment in the least restrictive and most cost-effective manner that is appropriate for his or her level of addiction.
Due to the nature of addiction, a person who is attempting to detox from alcohol will likely experience strong cravings for another drink. These cravings are hard to keep in check and, if left to detox at home on their own, many patients would likely give in to the urge to drink and terminate the detox process.
Thus, the best detox program for any particular patient will be the one that offers her choice of care and respects her civil rights while restricting physical freedom as much as necessary to cut off immediate access to alcohol.
When determining which alcoholic detox is right for a particular patient, clinicians are not without guidance. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has created placement criteria so that patients can be matched with the appropriate level of alcohol detox.
Levels of Alcohol Detox
When deciding placement, clinicians must evaluate the level of current intoxication, the potential for withdrawal symptoms, any co-occurring medical or mental health issues, willingness to enter recovery, potential for relapse, and the discharge environment. For adults, the ASAM has developed five potential levels of care, labeled I through IV with increasing levels of intensity.
The first level of alcohol detox is offered on an outpatient basis and can happen in an office, treatment facility or in the patient’s home. The treatment will be administered by trained clinical professionals who will evaluate the patient, administer the detox program, and refer the patient to post-detox follow-up services. First level detox is typically administered in scheduled sessions and should only be used when there is a strong support system at home for the patient to rely on when not in session.
The second level is also conducted on an outpatient basis, but includes the option for daily monitoring of the alcohol detox process by a trained nurse, sometimes for several hours.
In both outpatient models, the availability of doctors and nurses trained to handle addiction and detoxification is a core component. Although their presence will be required during actual sessions, it is also important for trained professionals to be on hand for emergencies, as traditional urgent care centers and emergency rooms are often ill-equipped to handle emergencies that occur during alcohol detox.
Training for alcohol detox treatment includes learning to interpret alcohol intoxication and withdrawal signs and symptoms, identify appropriate treatment and monitor progress, and facilitate the patient’s progression from active detox to addiction treatment.
The other three levels of alcohol detox typically occur on an inpatient basis and provide for 24-hour supervision. Level three, or “clinically” managed detox, has only a minimal amount of oversight by medical professionals. Instead, the physician-planned detoxification is carried out by staff who distribute medicine and monitor vital signs; doctors and nurses only get involved if and when problems arise.
Conversely, levels four and five are medically monitored inpatient detox programs where doctors and nurses routinely monitor the patient. In level four, doctors plan the treatment, clinicians carry it out, and both doctors and nurses follow up with treatment progress. In level five, there is near complete access to doctors and nurses for unexpected problems and emergencies.
Alcohol Detox Program Info
Many alcohol detox programs are not large enough to offer all conceivable levels of care for the entire population of potential alcohol detox patients. Instead, they must find the combination that best fits the patient’s situation or refer the patient elsewhere for treatment.
Other alcohol detox programs find themselves constrained by the admission criteria of third-party payers, such as insurance companies, which often balk at paying for ideal level of care.
Various mental health parity laws however, have recently been implemented to ensure that private insurers actually give patients the coverage that they need.
If you or a loved one is in need of freedom from alcohol addiction through an alcohol detox program, contact an Elements Recovery Advisor today.