Ambulatory Detox: What Is It and How Can It Help Me?

The short answer is, ambulatory detox is a detoxification program that works on an outpatient basis. Most people describe the home setting as their preferred choice for supervised detoxification. Many more might be willing to initiate detox if they can do it at home.

The patient is supervised in their home by a caregiver and receives daily visits from a registered nurse or a general practitioner during ambulatory detox. The process needs to be monitored, just as it does in a treatment center and the suitable interventions used. 

The addiction epidemic in America has become a driving force that calls for creative treatment programs that can produce results efficiently. The cost of continuing with the status quo is too great in terms of human lives.

The Goals of Home-based Detox

Some of the things an outpatient or home-based detox program seeks to achieve are as follows:

  • Monitor the patient’s mood
  • Plan and coordinate aftercare
  • Maintain a commitment to withdrawal
  • Manage symptoms of withdrawal in a supportive setting
  • Provide an opportunity for early intervention if anything negative occurs
  • Educate people about the progression of withdrawal and the possibility of lasting symptom

How Ambulatory Detox Can Help You

High Success Rate

An ambulatory detox pattern gives patients a combined approach that brings a high success rate at a lower cost, compared to a traditional inpatient treatment type. 

Although not welcome in the traditional treatment community, this innovative method of detoxing people off alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opiates in an outpatient setting has proven to be effective.

It is understandable why there is resistance to welcoming this type of treatment. Detoxification from alcohol and benzodiazepines had never been tried on an outpatient basis because of the risk of seizures and stroke when patients go home each day.

Significant Saving

This treatment model can save patients a substantial amount of money. Even though the length of time spent at the detox level is greater in ambulatory detox, the cost of care is about 40% lower. This is accomplished by eliminating the overnight stays. This is the unicorn in the field of medicine. Better outcomes in medicine typically come at a significantly higher cost.

Less Disturbance at Home

Outpatient detox is usually more acceptable to patients because it doesn’t disrupt the home situation to be able to access treatment. This helps reduce the stigma of the disease by normalizing it. People with other chronic diseases like diabetes do not require that the patient be confined in a hospital.

Integration with Home Environment

The patient will eventually have to learn to live in his or her home environment. Outpatient detox makes it easier to tailor therapy to meet the patient’s needs in the specific home environment. This helps the patient learn to cope with his actual living conditions.

Family Involvement

The support system for any patient is his loved ones and family members. Ambulatory detox gives them a better chance to be involved in the treatment, with the consent of the patient. Family participation assures the patient of a higher level of support at home and to maintain sobriety over the long-term.

Longer Length of Stay

Because ambulatory care is less expensive, health insurance providers are able to extend the length time in treatment. As a result of this, medication can be tapered more slowly and patients are able to take part in therapy and start making changes that strengthen their sobriety.

Because of this, the treatment community is now more convinced that ambulatory detox is a safe alternative to inpatient treatment.

Who Can Benefit from Ambulatory Detox?

Home detoxification is appropriate if:

  • No severe or complicated withdrawal symptoms are likely
  • No medical complications requiring close monitoring or hospital treatment are apparent
  • Psychiatric symptoms such as psychosis or depression can be safely managed at home
  • The patient has strong social support (family members and caregivers will require education and support for themselves)
  • The home environment is stable, supportive and drug-free
  • The patient has not previously failed at ambulatory detox
  • The patient is committed to achieving detox and withdrawal

It has been estimated that almost 50% of the patients who visit a primary care provider have some sort of issue related to substance use. And, since the physician may be the first contact for them, the start of treatment often begins in the family doctor’s office. 

Physicians need to be cautious when determining who may go through an ambulatory detox safely. Generally, outpatient treatment is just as effective as inpatient treatment for patients with mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms. The ambulatory model is helpful for younger patients who might have a fear of being sent away for treatment. This motivates them to not hide their addiction from their parents.

Ambulatory Detox: Levels of Care

Ambulatory detox without extensive onsite observation—This level of detoxification is an organized outpatient service. This level is designated Level I-D by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). It may take place in an office setting, healthcare or addiction treatment facility, or the patient’s home. 

Service is supplied by trained medical professionals. They provide medically-supervised evaluation, detoxification, and referral services according to a preset schedule, and in regularly scheduled sessions.

This level of care is appropriate only when a helpful and positive social network is available for the patient. Detox services should be designed to treat the patient’s level of addiction severity. This will enable a safe and comfortable withdrawal from drugs and ease the patient’s transition into treatment and recovery.

The ambulatory model is helpful for younger patients who might have a fear of being sent away for treatment. This motivates them to not hide their addiction from their parents.

Ambulatory detox with extended onsite observation (ASAM Level II-D)—The availability of appropriately credentialed and licensed nurses is essential to this level of care. They monitor the patient over several hours each day of service. Alternatively, this level of detoxification is also an outpatient service. 

Similar to Level I-D, in this level of care, services are provided during regularly scheduled services using a defined set of procedures and medical rules. Services are designed to treat the patient’s level of addiction severity and have a safe and comfortable withdrawal from drugs or alcohol and to ease the way into further treatment and recovery.

Matching the Patient with the Treatment

Addiction medicine has been seeking to develop an effective system of care that matches patients’ medical needs with the appropriate care environment. It needs to be matched in the least restrictive and cost-effective method. Obstacles to effective placement matching come from several factors.

  • Shortages in the full range of care settings and levels of care.
  • Limitations set by insurance companies (strictly sticking to admission standards)
  • Clinicians’ lack of authority ( and occasionally enough knowledge) to decide the most appropriate setting and level of care.
  • Insurance that doesn’t have a substance use disorder benefits as part of the patient’s coverage.
  • The patient doesn’t have any health coverage at all.

About Least Restrictive Care

Least restrictive care refers to the civil rights of patients and their right to choose their care. There are four important points.

  1. Patients should be treated in settings that interfere least with their civil right and freedom to take part in society.
  2. Patients should be able to disagree with recommendations about their care. This includes the right to refuse care. It also includes the right to receive care in the setting of their choice. (This depends on the consideration of danger and mental competency.)

It gives the patient the right to get a higher or different level of care than what the physician had planned.

  1. Patients should be informed and participate in designing their plan for care.   This should be done in cooperation with their healthcare providers.
  2. There must be careful consideration of State laws and policies for patients who aren’t able to act in their own best interests. The legal complications of this issue will vary from state to state.

The Future for Inpatient Detox

Ambulatory detox treatment has shown some solid promise for further growth. But that doesn’t mean that inpatient facilities are in jeopardy. As mentioned previously, it may not be right for everyone. Fortunately, there are other options one may consider:

Medically-monitored inpatient detox—If you are intoxicated or experiencing withdrawal, this provides 24-hour supervision and support. The main objective, in this case, is to make sure the patient is stable enough to go to another level of care.

Residential detoxification—Residential detox programs provide 24-hour supervision and support for patients that are in withdrawal. Residential settings vary in the level of care provided. The facilities with intensive medical supervision including doctors, nurse practitioners, and nurses are able to handle all but the most severe complications of withdrawal. Facilities with less intensive levels of care should have a collaborative relationship with a medical institution in the case of emergencies. 

Live the Addiction-Free Life You Deserve: Contact Coastal Detox Today!

You have the right to live a full life. Also, you have the right to think about more than getting the next supply of your drug of choice or alcohol. You have the right to find the treatment that can get you where you want to go. Coastal Detox can help you. You don’t have to do anything alone. 

Reach out to our team today; our compassionate and knowledgeable team can design a program that will get you on the road to recovery and health. What are you waiting for? It’s your right to live free from substance use disorder and we’re here to make that happen!

Real Client Testimonials

  • Before coming to coastal I was hopeless, helpless, and my family wanted nothing to do with me. It wasn’t the first detox I’d ever been to, but it was the only one who showed me so much love and compassion. They gave me hope. It’s hard to put into words the amount of gratitude I have for this facility. The employees were my family when I had none. The staff went out of their way to make sure not only were my physical needs taken care of, but my emotional needs as well. From the first phone call prior to admission, to helping me set up continuing care, they never missed a beat. Even going as far as to help me with my legal issues via Zoom court. This isn’t just a detox, they are the family I never had. All of the techs, especially Karen, are phenomenal. They will take the time to listen to you, laugh, and cry(if needed) with you. If you are reading this and you or your loved one is suffering like I was, go to Coastal Detox. The level of care is more than I could ever put into a review. It wasn’t the first detox I’d been to, but it has been my last; I owe them everything I have today, including my life.

    Travis B. Avatar
    Travis B.
    12/07/2020
  • Had a really good experience at Coastal. The staff really went above and beyond in helping me get in and gave me the respect l, space and care I needed after I first got there. As I started to fell better they encouraged me to take part in groups which helped get me out of my head and bring positivity and health to my thinking. They had a great massage therapist, who came daily and it was evident the nursing staff genuinely cared. Got to know some of the staff as well and I’m grateful for the cooks Joe and Chris. Those guys literally made us sirloins and pork chops for dinner. Also I gotta thank Chris and Chris for helping me get in and setting me up with a transition plan. Real grateful for that help, I’m not sure if it’s management intention to hire guys named Chris but they got a good thing going there. Overall, I’m clean and sober today and walking it out. Coastal gave me a base that set me up for the success that I’m walking in today

    Brandon B. Avatar
    Brandon B.
    1/16/2020
  • My family is very thankful for Coastal Detox. They have went above and beyond for my son a few times. Unfortunately he has needed their help more than once and they have ever turned their back on him, even when he was at his worst. Jeannie and Chris have been amazing and kept me informed through the entire process. They truly care about the addict and want to help them especially when it would be easy to give up on them. I had many detox facilities be rude and uncaring to me when I was searching for help for my son, but Coastal never did that to us. I don't know the names of all the team members that have helped my son but I know their are many and y'all are angels!! One day we will be able to pay it forward and help someone as you have helped us. Thank you for all you do!!

    Brenda A. Avatar
    Brenda A.
    1/01/2020
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/13/2019
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/06/2019

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