The goal of any detox program is to help a person safely stop using drugs or alcohol and move forward with their recovery. Professional detox aims to manage drug withdrawal symptoms and achieve a stable, drug-free state. It often serves as the first point of contact with substance abuse treatment for those struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
There are many different types of drug detox programs available. The two main detox settings include inpatient and outpatient facilities.1 An outpatient detox program can occur in a variety of locations, such as a doctor’s office, a freestanding detox center, or as part of a substance abuse treatment program. There are also different levels of outpatient detox treatment that vary based on the intensity of the addiction. Patients who are enrolled in an outpatient detox program are expected to attend regularly scheduled treatment sessions, either during the daytime or evening hours depending on their schedule and that specific program. Meetings may range from 15 minutes to two hours during outpatient detox. If the withdrawal treatment program is combined with a day hospital program, then the detox sessions may take up many hours of an individual’s day.1 Regardless of the intensity of the outpatient program, the person still resides at home and can usually carry out their everyday activities with little to no disruptions.
Depending on the addicted substance, mental health, physical health, and the individual’s physiology, outpatient detox can range from 3 to 14 days in duration, sometimes longer if necessary.1
Once the individual has achieved a drug-free, medically stable state, they are advised to enroll in a rehab program where they will receive ongoing treatment in the form of therapy and in some cases, medication, to help you maintain sobriety. This is because the purpose of a detox program, regardless of setting, is to safely help someone withdraw. It does not rectify the behavioral, social, and psychological issues associated with substance abuse and addiction.2
Now that you are aware of the different types of outpatient detox programs, we’ll look at the advantages of outpatient detox compared to inpatient detox programs.
Outpatient detox is an effective intervention for mitigating the distressing withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting substance abuse. There are many advantages to outpatient detox, including:1
However, despite there being many advantages to outpatient detox treatment, it is not right for everyone. There are some disadvantages you may want to consider.
If you are thinking about outpatient detox treatment, it is also important to think about some potential cons of this type of detox program. Depending on your situation, a few drawbacks of outpatient detox could include:1
The first step in determining the right detox for you is to visit your doctor. They will conduct a biomedical and psychosocial screening and assessment. Your doctor might also refer you to an addiction specialist for an additional medical evaluation.2
Some of the biomedical assessments your doctor might perform include:2
After the biomedical screening, your doctor will likely want to assess your psychosocial functioning. This helps the doctor determine how much support you have and what additional support you might need during treatment. Sometimes this exam is conducted by a trained substance abuse professional.
Some of the psychosocial factors that your doctor might ask about include:2
The above assessments will be used to help determine what type of treatment is right for you. For instance, if you have strong social support at home and will likely have only mild withdrawal symptoms, then an outpatient detox program might be recommended. On the other hand, if you have a history of suicidal ideation, a co-occurring medical condition, or a lack of social support, then your doctor might recommend inpatient detox. The particular program recommended for you should be explicitly based on your individual needs.2
While it might seem like there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to choosing a detox program, your doctor can help make the decision easy. So don’t wait to get help. Reach out to a trusted medical professional today.