Now that you have decided to get help for your substance use disorder, your next concern is likely finding a facility that ensures your safety and well-being while you’re getting treatment. There are a lot of perceptions out there about what rehab is and isn’t, and with thousands of facilities to choose from, it can be overwhelming to find the right fit. In short, you are advised to look for a facility that follows professional treatment standards and has the right people on staff to guide you during this challenging time of transition.
When you look for a facility, there are many things to keep in mind. Quality drug rehab centers, in general, offer clients a private, comfortable, and monitored environment in which they can receive medical detox and residential (inpatient) services safely. If these are not in place, then find another center to meet your needs.
Personalized Rehab Treatment is Important
Any treatment you receive should be tailored to what you need out of your rehab program. The time you spend in rehab and where you spend it depends on your situation. A medical professional will conduct an assessment to determine what you need and pick a placement along the continuum of care, as explained by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).
Much will depend on how far along your substance use disorder is and the anticipated treatment you will need to address it. This means you could spend anywhere from a few weeks in treatment to a few months. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends that clients spend at least 90 days in rehab to increase their chances of having long-lasting recovery.
Medical Detox is the First Step, But How Safe Is It?
Your drug rehab program may start with medical detoxification (detox for short) to remove the addictive substances and their toxins from your system. There are no government-approved medications for the removal of stimulant drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine (meth), but if you are in detox for alcohol, opioid, or benzodiazepine withdrawal, you may receive government-approved medications to help stabilize you as you wait for the drug(s) to exit your system.
The medical detox process is an essential step for people recovering from addiction. It addresses the uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms that accompany withdrawal. It also addresses the drug or alcohol cravings that also occur when chronic use of these substances stop.
For many, a supervised withdrawal is the only way to effectively quit using substances if they want the chance to live substance-free. This process, which is not a cure-all for addiction, should be conducted at a licensed and reputable facility, and medical personnel should oversee the process.
Benefits of Medical Detox
Medical detox that takes place at a treatment center has many benefits for the person in recovery from substance use. It requires around-the-clock monitoring to ensure clients stay safe during withdrawal. Because medical professionals are available 24/7 to offer support and administer emergency care whenever it is needed, medical detox has been found to be safer than detoxing at home or without the help of professionals who understand substance withdrawal and the dangers that could occur.
A few benefits of medical detox that keep the process safe and secure for drug rehab clients are:
Accountable staff. In addition to having professionals on board who are trained and knowledgeable about the addiction field, these professionals should also know the procedures and protocols where they work to ensure they treat all clients who come into their facility with the utmost care. They should know the best practices and evidence-based methods to treating addiction, and they should be able to determine which of these methods are most effective for your situation.
A thorough assessment of the person in recovery. Drug rehab detox involves three stages, which are a) evaluating a client to determine their needs, b) helping them regain physical and mental stability, and c) moving them forward to a drug treatment program. Medical detox is not the start and end of a rehab program. As previously mentioned, it is the first step.
Clients are encouraged to move past the detox stage to address the issues lying at the root of their substance use problem. This happens in an extended treatment program that takes place in a setting that falls along the continuum mentioned earlier. Medical detox ensures clients get the information they need to make an informed decision about their health going forward as well as the resources to ensure that happens for them.
Tapering: A medical professional can assess a client’s needs and create a schedule that allows the individual to be weaned off a substance gradually. This process, which involves giving the client smaller dosages of a drug over a specific period, gives the client’s body time to adjust to having less of the substance present, allowing the client to regain stability.
Gradual tapering is much safer than “going cold turkey,” which can send the body into shock, making a person sick to the point where they will pick up the drug again just to avoid uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Abruptly ending a drug that the body has become dependent on can be dangerous and deadly.
Medication Use in Rehab
Tapering may bring up questions about how safe it is to use prescription or over-the-counter medications to help people recovering from addiction. It should be noted that there are different kinds of tapering. One method involves decreasing the amount of a substance over time until the client can have less of the substance in their body without feeling effects.
Another form of tapering involves substituting a weaker drug for the stronger one that a person used regularly. ASAM has issued guidelines to help medical professionals follow best practices for these procedures. Following these guidelines is another way rehab facilities can ensure their staff is keeping clients safe.
Some observers say that using drugs to treat people with problematic drug use is akin to trading one addiction to another, but there is disagreement in the medical community concerning that. Some in the community view approaches that use prescription drugs, such as medication-assisted treatment (MAT), as an effective way to keep people focused on recovery without the pitfalls that could derail their sobriety goals. Without some kind of medical help, it could be nearly impossible for a person to stop using drugs and alcohol if they are constantly in a state of withdrawal or relapse.
Professional staff should also be knowledgeable about MAT and how it can benefit their facility’s clients. If you think this could be an option for you, ask to speak with someone about it who works at the facility you are considering for drug treatment.
In addition to the use of prescription medications, MAT also incorporates behavioral therapies and counseling for people in recovery from opioid use disorder and alcohol use disorder. Using all of these helps keep rehab clients safe from dangerous withdrawals, relapses, and overdoses that can quickly turn life-threatening or fatal.
A professional drug rehabilitation center will know how to handle administering FDA-approved medications or MAT programs, ensuring that clients who use them will remain safe while doing so. Participants in MAT also agree to be monitored to make sure they stay on track. The accountability of this program helps keep client safety at the forefront.
Patient Privacy and Staying Safe During COVID-19
Drug rehab centers are responsible for guarding their clients’ privacy and keeping their personal information safe at all times. In the U.S., rehab clients’ privacy rights are protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which keeps health information confidential. The 1996 law strictly prohibits patients’ health information from being shared or released with anyone outside of their consent.
Concerns about having sensitive information shared have kept many people from getting the help they need, but you don’t have to let that happen to you. Address any concerns you have about privacy right away. If you have questions about a facility’s privacy policies or how its staff handles your health information, you should contact them directly with your questions. A facility staff member should review these policies with you before you start treatment.
You should get familiar with your rights under HIPAA and how they protect your privacy throughout your time in rehab. You should be advised that rehab staff are required under HIPAA to protect your privacy. You can ask about what protocols they have in place to ensure your information stays secure and confidential.
Getting Rehab Treatment During COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic has changed our world as we know it forever, but the need for drug and alcohol treatment remains a pressing matter during the pandemic. Some people who need inpatient services will seek them out at a facility full-time or may have a combination of spending time in a facility and using telehealth services. Either way, you should be aware of the facility’s plans to keep clients safe during COVID-19.
If you are interested in going on-site to a treatment center for drug rehab treatment, the facility you are considering should have a safety plan in place for incoming patients. These include:
- Regular screenings of all staff and clients to check for symptoms of the virus, such as if someone is running a fever or having trouble breathing. These checks should be done for every person who is entering or exiting the facility.
- Ensuring that everyone observes physical distancing practices of at least staying 6 feet apart.
- Enforcing the rule that everyone wears a mask and other personal protective equipment, washes their hands and uses hand sanitizer.
Protocols for keeping a facility clean should be transparent and explained. These should include any procedures for sanitizing an area as well as keeping an area well-ventilated to keep air circulating. Traveling to rehab is also a time for making sure you are doing everything to stay safe. If you can or feel comfortable driving to the rehabilitation center, that’s one option. If you want to use other forms of transportation, the safety measures outlined above can apply to your travel plans as well.
Get Help Today for Substance Addiction
It is important for you to find a facility where you feel safe while you address your substance use disorder. There are people standing by waiting to answer questions you have or explain how they make their facility safe for their clients. Call or reach out online to learn more about what these facilities offer and determine if their programs are a good fit for you.