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Monday, March 22, 2021

My Loved One is Ready to Go to Detox! Where should I take them?

This question in a variety of forms floods Facebook groups that focus on issues of Substance Use Disorder and family support.

Here's the scenario:

A loved one has finally found that moment of being ready for a detox.  The window of opportunity for healing has opened and will close at any moment.  Two hours is the typical amount of patient accepted toleration to wait as the civil war in the mind battles on.  There must be a sense of progress toward detox being made very soon and every step of the way or that window will slam shut and shatter any hopes for that day and for months to come.

Where should I take my loved one?

Finding an answer to this question, if a plan is not already in place, can absorb your entire two-hour window.  Have a plan in place!

Once we get there, how long will we wait for a bed?

Registering at that identified place may or may not be a fairly quick process. 

Waiting for a bed can take 16 or more hours.  At the end of those hours, your loved one might be told that there are no beds available across the entire city and to go home and try again tomorrow.  

The window of opportunity for detox may have slammed shut and most likely will slam shut at any point during those 16 hours of sitting.  From your loved one's perspective, it's far more comfortable to give up waiting and leave to buy that little blue packet of medicine than it is to continue to sit there with no definite hope for healing in sight.

If a bed is obtained, how long will it be before comfort care for detox related symptoms to be alleviated will pass by?

If your loved one does get a bed and the doctor has gone home for the day, no comfort care will be prescribed until the doctor returns the next day.  Your loved one will most likely sign out AMA[1] to find their own source of healing: their much-needed 'medicine.'

The above scenario describes the health care process within the world of Substance Use Disorder patients who are reliant on Medicaid.


The following scenario for a patient with Substance Use Disorder who has private insurance is a follows:

  1. Your loved one tells you that they are ready for a detox.
  2. You call a selected 800 number and explain what's going on.
  3. Your loved one's insurance is approved.
  4. Your loved one is picked up by car service or brought in by a family member or friend.
  5. Your loved one's dope sickness is treated to the highest medical extent possible upon arrival.
  6. Healing begins.


In the world of Medicaid provided health care for patients of Substance Use Disorder and that loved one receiving care there unwaveringly towers "Medicaid Mountain" to be traversed by an already weakened patient who must hike it's narrow cliffside trails in hopes of getting to the other side and arrive at healing.

Those of us who know the intimacies of the private insurance side of health care to patients with Substance Use Disorder must find ways to plow down "Medicaid Mountain."  To do so, we must identify every obstacle to health care that is created by that mountain, address those issues and remove those issues. 

In so doing, we will save a million lives[2]!

[1] Against Medical Advice

[2] Our children, our mothers, and fathers, our spouses and lovers, our best friends, and every other combination of relational loved ones

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