Getting Sober: Families :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

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Getting Sober: Families

Your child has been admitted to the hospital for opiate (o-pe-it) detoxification (de-tock-si-fa-ka-shun). This treatment, commonly called “detox” is to help free an addict from his or her drug habit.

Picture 1 - Health Care Team.
Image of health care team

What to Expect in the Hospital

The following things may happen to your child as the drugs leave your child’s body:

  • Change in pulse rate
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Shaking
  • Stomach cramps
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Pain
  • Yawning
  • Runny nose or eye tearing
  • “Goosebumps”
  • Changes in size of pupils of the eyes

For their safety, patients must stay in their rooms for as long as the detox lasts. They may have certain visitors, but they may not leave the floor. They can get up and walk around in their room.  While they are here, patient’s belongings will be kept safe by the staff. They will get them back when they leave.

Here are some other things patients may experience in detox:

  • A warm safe bed and time to rest and sleep
  • Healthy food
  • People who want them to get better
  • Access to television, video games, books, massages, recreational activities
  • Visits by doctors, nurses, dentists, social workers and other professionals on the healthcare team (Picture 1).

What to Expect after Going Home

With intensive outpatient treatment or rehabilitation (rehab)

Your child will have medication to take at home after detox. This medicine is called Suboxone® (buprenorphine/naloxone). The doctor’s instructions must be followed exactly on how to take this medicine. Your child must keep their appointments with Dr.________________. She CANNOT get a refill on her prescription without Dr. _________________ seeing her. It is VERY important to keep the medicine out of the reach and sight of other children. Suboxone is safe for the person being treated, but is very dangerous to other children. Call Poison Control immediately 1-800-222-1222 if you think someone else has gotten into the medicine. 

Things your child may need to do to stay clean and sober:

  • Attend daily 12-step meetings (Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous) or other support group. DAILY ATTENDANCE IS KEY!  30 days, 30 meetings. 
  • Residential rehab placement for at least a month. 
  • Intensive outpatient program: counseling, drug testing and group meetings for several hours a day, several days a week
  • Lifelong avoidance of addictive substances
  • Lifetime attention to avoiding triggers of use (friends and family who use, emotional issues).

If you think your child is suicidal, call the hospital right away, (614) 722-2000. You can also call a Suicide Prevention Hotline at (614) 294-3300 (teen line) or (614) 221-5445 or toll free at 1-800-273-8255.

Help and Support for You

Your child’s addiction to drugs has taken over his life and has had an impact on yours as well. In order to become and stay sober and clean, your child will have to make a choice not to use. This will take a strong commitment to himself, support from people who are close to him, help from the doctor, a therapist and a support group. Your child has to choose every day not to use. Some days will be easier than others and some days will be very difficult, but he can do this. 

There are lots of support groups available for all of you as your whole family works with your child to reach sobriety. You may also want to find a counselor, talk to clergy or attend Al-Anon or Narcanon meetings or church supported groups. Your social worker can tell you about support programs in your neighborhood. Anything you can do to find support not only helps you, but shows your child a good example.

Common Questions about Detox

Why does my child detox in the hospital?

  • When people are in the hospital, they're safe from illegal drugs. Illegal drugs don't come in and drug-using friends don't come in.
  • In the hospital, we can carefully watch the medicines your child is getting to help ease her withdrawal symptoms.
  • Our hospital staff is trained to help your child get through acute detox.
  • If your child has severe vomiting or diarrhea, she will get IV fluids so the body doesn’t get “dried out” (dehydrated).
  • Your child will be able to see different health care providers to help her get needed treatment right away.
  • You and your child can learn about drug abuse, as well as options like residential rehab and outpatient drug treatment programs. You can also get help setting realistic expectations for the recovery process.
  • Your child can get the personal attention he or she needs to have a better chance at sobriety. 

How long does detox take?

Detox can take up to 5 days. The average time is 2 days.

What will it cost to have my child detox in the hospital?

Costs vary.  Usually private insurance will cover the cost. If you do not have insurance or have Medicaid, PLEASE call the billing department at (614) 722-2055. They will work with you to get your bill paid. 

If you have any questions, please call your doctor, nurse or therapist at____________________.

Getting Sober: Families (PDF)

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700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000