ER and Medical Detox: What’s the Difference?

When an individual shows up to the emergency room, it’s because that person needs immediate assistance. The ER is for people who have medical emergencies. Alternatively, medical detox is where individuals rid their bodies of any traces or toxins left behind by substance misuse. 

At medical detox, members will typically work out what their detox treatment will look like ahead of time and then attend detox for a set period of time.  While it’s important to take immediate action to overcome addiction, it’s technically not an “emergency.” Thus, medical detox is different from the ER. Prospective medical detox members will communicate with admissions and see whether an inpatient or outpatient detox program is best suited for them. 

The emergency department of a hospital is just for inpatient treatment, which may occur for an indefinite period of time. Unlike with medical detox, there isn’t usually a discussion about insurance beforehand when receiving care at an emergency department because people in the ER are experiencing life-threatening emergencies that need immediate attention. 

Should You Go to the ER or Detox for Alcohol Poisoning?

Despite its legality, alcohol is a psychoactive substance. Hence, some might find themselves in the hospital if they drink too much. Alcohol poisoning is a common emergency room (ER) reason for admission as it is life-threatening and is a medical condition that comes upon someone suddenly. Individuals that want to detox from alcohol due to alcohol use issues or alcohol addiction though, should attend medical detox.

Alcohol often makes people feel relaxed and more friendly because of the way that it affects the brain. The substance increases the availability of certain chemicals in the brain, which affects the body’s systems as a whole. 

The respiratory system is one bodily system that is affected by alcohol use and abuse. The effects that alcohol has on the respiratory system and other systems in the body can be extremely harmful when a person suffers from alcohol poisoning though. 

While alcohol withdrawal symptoms can also be life-threatening and unbearable at times, people usually don’t feel these symptoms in a severe manner until they detox. Thus, a medical detox facility with doctors, medical staff, and substance use and detox specialists on standby is the best place to treat alcohol use issues and alcohol addiction. 

Should You Go to the ER or Detox for Drug Overdose? 

The emergency room is for serious situations which require speedy attention. When someone has a drug overdose, the emergency room can be the difference between life and death. This is especially true when an individual is mixing multiple substances. 

Yet, if someone is having trouble overcoming an addiction to substances, a medical detox facility would be a more appropriate place to receive treatment. There is some overlap between the symptoms of overdosing and extreme withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox will likely be able to control extreme withdrawal symptoms though through medications such as: 

  • Naltrexone 
  • Disulfiram
  • Methadone 
  • Buprenorphine 
  • Suboxone 

Medical detox can also help in the treatment of mental health disorders that co-occur with substance addictions. Medical staff at a detox center will be able to assess any co-occurring mental illnesses that a person with a substance addiction may be suffering from. Then doctors at a medical detox facility can prescribe individuals medications that can not only help treat any lingering substance withdrawal symptoms that the individuals are suffering from, but also any mental health disorder symptoms that they are still dealing with. 

Beware though that doctors will only prescribe individuals with mental health disorder medications during detox if the mental illness stems from withdrawal rather than the actual dual diagnosis

Individuals who suffer from more than one type of health disorder at the same time contain a dual diagnosis. A substance use disorder and a co-occurring mental health disorder would qualify as a dual diagnosis. 

How To Avoid an ER Visit Through Detox at Sana Lake 

The best way to avoid an ER visit altogether as a person that abuses substances or is addicted to substances is to receive a medical detox. Neglecting to do so will only make it more difficult to overcome a substance use disorder. This, in turn, makes it all the more likely for a person to develop a drug overdose. 

Instead of a costly ER visit, contact Sana Lake BWC to see how our medical detox services can help you or a loved one achieve recovery and live a healthier life today!