Tuesday, July 29, 2008

detox , it's not like the movies!

I've spent the past six evening shifts working in our chemical withdrawal unit. Technically that's not supposed to happen, but because I'm not a permanent staff until August 10th, they can do what they want with me. And honestly, it's all good. When I worked that double on Saturday I got my adrenaline rushes and everything was good again. It's actually been pretty good spending so much time in detox because I'm able to get to know people on a much deeper level then when I rotate through there, something which I find really valuable. I actually wouldn't mind having a job that was strictly detox, just not yet. I enjoy doing intakes, I enjoy the one on one time I get to spend with people, I enjoy the relative calm. That being said, I miss out on my favourite things, which are van patrol and hanging out with the homeless. Detox clients come from all walks of life, and while some of them are homeless, most of them aren't.

I don't know how much I've written about detox, but here's the scoop. Detox is a 10 day program. It's NOT a treatment program. It's supervised chemical withdrawal. It's also not a medical unit. All clients must be medically cleared by a doctor, have all their prescriptions detailed by the doctor and bring them all with them. We keep their meds, and make sure they take them at the right time, and that no one OD's on them.

Basically, detox is a place to sleep and go to a lot of twelve step meetings (AA, CA, NA). Most clients come in and sleep for the first 3 days at least! It's not like those movies, where you see people moaning and groaning and puking over the sides of their beds. People do get nauseous, and their is pain involved, but most people aren't that dramatic. Some clients get the shakes, but other then that... and I've seen only one seizure thus far.

People are coming off everything under the sun. Well, not everything. Not heroin. We accept people on methadone, but we don't do heroin withdrawal, that's dangerous! But we do alcohol, crack, cocaine, non beverage alcohols, sniff, prescription drugs, crystal meth (although most don't make it coming of crystal meth).

My role is counselor, laundress, dishwasher, advocate, voice of reason, mediator, intake counselor, med giver outer, reassurer, information provider, referral source, and many other things. I love just getting to sit and talk with people. About whatever. Their addiction, their kids, their housing situation, their hopes, their fears, whatever... I can provide them with support and with referalls to our resources and community resources because detox is only a 10 day program.

Ideally, a person going to detox would go detox, treatment program, transition housing and support, own accomidations and own employment... of course, it doesn't work that way, but that's a post for another time.


cb said...

That's really interesting. I never thought too much about what detox actually involves.. most people i've been involved with have been admitted to psychiatric hospital and had to detox on the ward which I imagine is slightly different environment..

Still Dreaming said...

I always felt bad for my PACT clients who were on psych and unable to smoke. Many people have told me that cigarettes are far harder to quit then the other stuff. I can't imagine getting psychiatrically healthy while coming off drugs, alcohol and tobacco!