Riverview Behavioral Health Hospital recently added a 10-bed adult alcohol and substance abuse detox unit to provide medically-assisted detox to people struggling with alcohol and drug addiction.
The detox unit augments the services already offered by Riverview, a 62-bed facility providing acute and sub-acute services to children and adolescents addressing a range of psychiatric and behavioral health issues.
"The response has been favorable because it's a needed service," Physician Dr. Robert Strayhan, Riverview medical director said of the unit that opened in December 2017. "In keeping with the current 'opiate addiction crisis' we're seeing people come in requesting help withdrawing from not only street drugs that are opiates but also prescription medications they've become dependent on."
Strayhan said so far the majority of patients they've seen have needed help withdrawing from opiates. Other substances they're seeing are alcohol and benzodiazepines.
"Medical detox is focused on substances that have withdrawal potential that cause patients to suffer psychologically and physically if the patient were to detox cold turkey," Strayhan said. "Unassisted detox can result in life-threatening withdrawal symptoms."
Detox takes anywhere from three to seven days, depending on the patient and the substance abused.
Patients in the detox unit also receive other services as part of the program.
"The advantage of having a person come to an inpatient psychiatric facility is they usually have co-morbid conditions such as depression or bipolar disorder. We can end up treating both those conditions here on our unit. It's kind of like the chicken and the egg talking about which came first. Some people are distressed and have mood changes and they use substances to treat those mood changes. Other people use substances in a recreational manner and they subsequently have mood changes. You have to treat both of them to have a successful outcome," Strayhan said. "It's rare to see someone come to us with just substance issues."
Therapy is another tool used by the detox unit.
"People are coming in not just with substance abuse issues but co-morbid psychological issues," said Dr. Ashley Fowlkes, psychologist and clinical director or Riverview. "We do a lot here to make sure we're addressing the whole picture. Every morning we have meditation or a daily devotional group. We have a licensed therapist who does two groups a day. It's an important component because they get a chance to address underlying reasons they started drugs in the first place."
"We have two therapeutic process groups. One group is focused on the components of recovery. The second is focused on maintaining sobriety," Fowlkes said. "It's really an important piece of what we do here."
Once someone finishes medical detox, their journey to a healthy lifestyle is just beginning. Riverview works to help patients access the services they need once detox is complete.
"We often times refer folks to other services. We start the process of what will be a much lengthier journey. We connect them either with a long-term residential program or outpatient addiction services," Fowlkes said.
For those addicted to opiates, Riverview will help set them up with a clinic that provides medical maintenance.
"One of the modalities we use here is suboxone. It has the dual advantage of helping manage pain but it has a component that prevents abuse of suboxone. We refer those patients to suboxone providers on an outpatient basis," Strayhan said.
Medical detox is often covered by insurance.
Strayhan said the public has a misconception about the types of people seeking detox.
"People think it would be the type of person that fits into the skid row perception of a drug addict but that's often not the case," Strayhan said.
Riverview's admissions and assessment office is open 24-7 and can be reached at 870-772-5028.