Entering detox treatment for the first time can be scary for many people, especially young adults.  For many young adults, who are already in a compromised state, the physical changes and different setting of detox can ward many off from seeking treatment.  However, while detox may seem to be difficult for some people, it is important to remember that not only does the detox experience vary widely from person to person, but the process can often be smooth and comfortable.

First Steps

In the very beginning of the detox process, you will probably have a meeting or call with a facility’s intake or admissions team.  This meeting will go over the basic detox process, other administrative and finance information and a brief assessment to get a better picture of who your young adult is.

After this initial process has been completed and your young adult arrives at the detox facility, he or she will be greeted by and introduced to the intake staff.  The intake staff will review the process of detox with the young adult and complete necessary intake documentation, including agreements, consents and other forms.  Depending on how each individual feels upon entering detox, this intake process can take anywhere from a few hours to multiple days.

Symptoms of Detox

Symptoms experienced during detox from alcohol may be as mild as a headache or nausea, however some people experience severe delirium tremens (DTs) marked by seizures and/or hallucinations.

If there are no co-occurring conditions or other drug use or treatment, withdrawal follows a characteristic course consisting of three relatively distinct phases of Acute Withdrawal, Early Abstinence and Protracted Abstinence.

Acute withdrawal can be dominated by tremors, autonomic nervous system hyperactivity and the risk for DTs and seizures. Seizures and tremors typically occur within the first 48 hours following discontinued consumption and peak around 24 hours. Physiological symptoms commonly experienced during acute withdrawal include increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and gastrointestinal problems (nausea, vomiting).

During the Early Abstinence phase, anxiety, low mood and disturbed sleep patterns continue, but manifest without acute physical symptoms. Elevated anxiety resolves within three to six weeks after alcohol use ends. Women take slightly longer than men to move through this phase.

In the final or Protracted Abstinence phase, elevated anxiety and dysphoria (profound state of unease or dissatisfaction) may not be obvious, although normally insignificant challenges can provoke negativity, craving of alcohol and relapse.

While the detox process can sound daunting, many people, especially those who are otherwise in good health, such as young adults, may often experience less significant symptoms for a shorter period of time.

Services During Detox

During detox a number of different services will be provided to young adults who are detoxing, including monitoring, medical and therapeutic sessions and ancillary services.

Monitoring is a key component of any detox program. Throughout the detox process, your young adult will be monitored around the clock, at anywhere from 15 minute to 2 hour intervals, depending on how long he or she has been in detox.  Staff will regularly check in with him or her, conduct some minimal testing to make sure that he or she is alright and work quickly to solve any problems that might be encountered.  Monitoring is maintained throughout detox and is adjusted to how clients feel.

In addition to monitoring, your young adult will also receive important services from one or more physicians.  These services typically come in the form of visits from or to the doctor to ensure that the client is stabilizing.  They may involve the prescription of medication or simply directions on how the young adult should be monitored, depending on a wide variety of factors.  Additionally, while in detox most clients will engage in therapeutic or clinical sessions to begin them on the path towards healing and sobriety.  The type and amount of clinical session varies greatly based on the program and needs of the individual client.

The last service that young adults may receive in detox are ancillary services.  These are additional services that are not part of the core component of the detox program.  They may include vocational, educational or recreational activities.  Ancillary services vary widely program to program and person to person and are typically tailored to fit the specific needs of your young adult.

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