Ambulatory Detoxification Explained

ambulatory detoxification

When you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, the first step in your addiction treatment plan is probably going to be detoxification. The detox process rids your system of the harmful substances and helps you get a positive start on your road to recovery. Detox can be part of an inpatient treatment program or it could be done as part of what is known as ambulatory detoxification.

Detox and Withdrawal

Most addiction treatment programs start with detoxification and medically managed withdrawal. Detoxification, the process by which the body clears itself of drugs, is designed to manage the acute and potentially dangerous physiological effects of stopping drug or alcohol use. However, detoxification alone does not address the psychological, social, and behavioral problems associated with addiction and therefore does not typically produce lasting behavioral changes necessary for recovery. Detoxification should be followed by a formal assessment and participation in a drug or alcohol addiction treatment.

Because it is often accompanied by unpleasant and potentially fatal side effects stemming from withdrawal, detoxification is often managed with medications administered by a physician in an inpatient or outpatient setting; therefore, it is referred to as “medically managed withdrawal.” Medications are available to assist in the withdrawal from opioids, benzodiazepines, alcohol, nicotine, barbiturates, and other sedatives.

Inpatient Detox

If you have serious medical or mental health issues, in addition to your addiction to drugs or alcohol, an inpatient setting might be better suited for you as you go through detoxification. When you participate in inpatient detox, you live at a hospital, detox clinic, or rehab center during the process. You’ll have care around the clock to help you through it. While you have more services available to you in inpatient detox, it also tends to cost more.

Ambulatory Detoxification

Ambulatory detoxification is essentially an outpatient option that is considered to be a safe option if your physical and mental health is good, your home is stable, you have support at home, and you don’t have a long history of problem drinking or drug use. As a professional, ambulatory detoxification may be the best option for you if your situation is suitable for these conditions.

In particular, detoxification can be undertaken in ambulatory settings if you show signs of mild to moderate withdrawal when you are not drinking or using drugs. An appropriate candidate for outpatient detoxification should have arrangements to start an addiction treatment program and a responsible support person who can monitor progress, and should not have significant, acute, comorbid conditions or risk factors for severe withdrawal.

Criteria for Ambulatory Detox

Guidelines for determining whether you can detox as an outpatient include:

  • No prior history of complicated detox
  • No history of complicated medical or psychiatric illnesses
  • Supportive recovery environment
  • Transportation availability
  • Ability to follow instructions
  • Reasonable treatment acceptance.

Types of Ambulatory Detoxification

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) explains that ambulatory detox can be administered with or without extended on-site monitoring.

Ambulatory detoxification without extended on-site monitoring is an organized outpatient service that may be delivered in an office setting, healthcare or addiction treatment facility, or in a patient’s home by trained clinicians who provide medically supervised evaluation, detoxification, and referral services according to a predetermined schedule. Such services are provided in regularly scheduled sessions.

Essential to the ambulatory detoxification with extended onsite monitoring is the availability of appropriately credentialed and licensed nurses (such as registered nurses [RNs] or licensed practical nurses [LPNs]) who monitor patients over a period of several hours each day of service. Otherwise, this level of detoxification also is an organized outpatient service. In this level of care detoxification services are provided in regularly scheduled sessions and delivered under a defined set of policies and procedures or medical protocols.

Outpatient, or ambulatory, detox services are designed to treat the patient’s level of clinical severity and to achieve safe and comfortable withdrawal from mood-altering drugs, including alcohol, and to effectively facilitate the patient’s transition to treatment and recovery.

Detox Programs for Professionals at Providence Treatment

At Providence Treatment, we partner with nationally recognized detox centers in the Philadelphia area. We provide you with a comfortable and safe detox experience so you can begin your road to recovery from your addiction. At Providence Treatment, we help professionals like you overcome your addiction and help you reintegrate into your workplace successfully.

Don’t let addiction to drugs or alcohol take over your life. You can overcome addiction with outpatient treatments at Providence Treatment. If you need help getting clean, then contact us at 484.469.9592, and you can begin your recovery as soon as possible.

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