Entering detox treatment for the first time can be scary for many people—especially young adults. For many young adults who are already in a compromised state, the physical changes and unfamiliar setting of detox can be a deterrent to seeking treatment. However, while detox may seem to be difficult for some people, it is important to remember that not only does the detox experience vary widely from person to person, but the process can often be smooth and even comfortable.

First Steps For a Young Adult in Detox

In the beginning of the detox process, you will probably have a meeting or call with a facility’s intake or admissions team. This meeting will go over the basic detox process, other administrative and finance information and a brief assessment to get a better picture of who your young adult is.

After this initial process has been completed and your young adult arrives at the detox facility, they will be greeted by and introduced to the intake staff. The intake staff will review the detox process and complete necessary intake documentation, including agreements, consents and other forms. Depending on how the individual feels upon entering detox, this intake process can take anywhere from a few hours to multiple days.

Symptoms During Detox

Symptoms experienced during detox from alcohol may be as mild as a headache or nausea, however some people experience severe delirium tremens marked by seizures or hallucinations.

If there are no co-occurring conditions or other drug use or treatment, withdrawal follows a characteristic course consisting of three relatively distinct phases of acute withdrawal, early abstinence and protracted abstinence.

Acute withdrawal can be dominated by tremors, autonomic nervous system hyperactivity and the risk for DTs and seizures. Seizures and tremors typically occur within the first 48 hours following discontinued consumption and peak around 24 hours. Physiological symptoms commonly experienced during acute withdrawal include increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and vomiting.

During the early abstinence phase, anxiety, low mood and disturbed sleep patterns continue, but manifest without acute physical symptoms. Elevated anxiety resolves within three to six weeks after alcohol use ends. Women take slightly longer than men to move through this phase.

In the final protracted abstinence phase, elevated anxiety and dysphoria—profound state of unease or dissatisfaction—may not be obvious, although normally insignificant challenges can provoke negativity, cravings and relapse.

While the detox process may sound daunting, many people, especially those who are otherwise in good health such as young adults, may often experience fewer significant symptoms for a shorter period of time.

Services During Detox

Several different services will be provided to a young adult in detox, including monitoring, medical and therapeutic sessions and ancillary services.

Monitoring is a key component of any detox program. Your young adult in detox will be monitored around the clock, at anywhere from 15-minute to 2-hour intervals, depending on how long they have been in detox. Staff will regularly check in with them, conduct some minimal testing and work quickly to solve any problems that might be encountered. Monitoring is maintained throughout detox and is adjusted according to how clients feel.

In addition to monitoring, your young adult will also receive important services from one or more physicians. These services typically include visits from or to the doctor to ensure that the client is stabilizing. They may involve the prescribing of medication or simply directions for how the young adult in detox should be monitored, depending on a wide variety of factors. Additionally, while in detox most clients will engage in therapeutic or clinical sessions to begin them on the path toward healing and sobriety. The type and amount of clinical sessions varies greatly based on the program and needs of the individual client.

The last service that young adults may receive in detox are ancillary services. These are additional services that are not part of the core component of the detox program. They may include vocational, educational or recreational activities. Ancillary services vary widely and are typically tailored to fit the specific needs of your young adult.