The sheer volume of drug and alcohol addicted people in the United States is staggering.
According to National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Addiction statistics from 2014, over 16.3 million adults aged 18 or over suffer from alcohol abuse. Of that number, 1.5 million adults received treatment for an alcohol based disorder at a specialized facility or detox program. Nearly 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually. This makes alcohol abuse the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States. These numbers do not even account for people who have opioid addictions and have overdosed.
Therefore, when addicts and alcoholics start to seek treatment at a detox program, they are often met with a formidable barrier that can feel like hitting a concrete wall. There are so many people trying to get help that it has become increasing difficult for individuals to get into a detox programs or long-term residential programs.
Obstacles to Getting into a Detox Program
Many facilities will not take clients who have already spent a few days detoxing on their own. To get into medical facilities, they need to be impaired already. Once they are physically detoxed, the facilities generally will not accept them. This can lead to a wait of weeks or even months as struggling individuals try to get a long-term bed. There are so many people trying to get into programs at once that beds have become more valuable than gold. As they wait, and are often denied, and constantly reach out to facilities that offer 28 or 90 day residential programs, the desperation sets in.
This is where a huge danger appears on the horizon for alcoholics and addicts. They begin to feel that no one cares, and that they are trying very hard but not seeing any results. They become frustrated, and often rightly so, and they drink or do drugs again because they cannot handle the emotional burdens placed on them. This frustrating, and lengthy wait time becomes even more of a challenge to those who are homeless.
What can you do while waiting for a detox program?
You can sit and sweat, of course, though this won’t help you.
The best thing you can do is take initiative. You will want to reach out to many different facilities, and fill out paperwork for a bed in each one. Each facility will perform a different evaluation, and usually do an intake. They may all have wait times, and without insurance, it may be near impossible to get into a place. But, the greater amount of forms that one fills out, the quicker the wait time will be as beds open up. The worst part of this whole process, can often be the unknown. How long is the wait? There is no real concrete answer. Sometimes, beds open up right away as clients don’t answer the phone, decide not to get treated, or are kicked out (or graduate) from residential programs.
There are options for those just detoxing. One important thing to do, is to seek out activities to do. Keep busy. Find local AA Meetings (or other 12 step programs that suit their needs). These can provide a real support network of people who will understand what you are going through. You can easily talk to them about a number of issues. Sometimes, other AA members may even provide a meal or a bed for a person depending on their situation.
Otherwise, waiting and hoping is one of the only options.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Addiction