Detox is often, for most individuals suffering from addiction, the first step in the process of addiction treatment and recovery. Detox can be frightening, and the fear of withdrawals can keep a person using for many years past the point where they need to or want to seek sobriety and recovery. However, the process of detox does not have to be scary, when doing so under the expertise of 24/7 medical staff, well-versed in withdrawal management and medical stabilization. It is also important that the person feels safe and comfortable during the detox process.
Eric (whose name has been changed) was a patient at Innovo in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-2020. He offered to write the following. Here is his firsthand account of the experience he had at Innovo Detox.
A patient shares their first hand experience at Innovo Detox
“My name is Eric and I’m 26 years old. I went to Innovo Detox after my parents and girlfriend intervened on me because of my drug abuse. I was also drinking a lot. There wasn’t like an interventionist or anything like that like I’ve seen on TV shows- they all basically woke me up one Sunday morning after a particularly bad weekend. They told me they were all worried about me and that they wanted me to get help. My mom and girlfriend cried a lot. The truth is, I knew I had a problem and couldn’t figure it out on my own. I had been to rehab before a couple years earlier, and although I don’t think I was ever really ‘sober’ for very long, my life did get better for a while. But after a car accident, I got hooked on painkillers again and after a short time, I was using Xanax I was getting from friends, and I began to drink a lot. First socially, but then by myself at night a lot. I was unhappy and depressed and knew I needed to stop, and although I tried to kick a couple times on my own, it never lasted for very long. I was angry and lashed out a lot at both my parents and girlfriend. So, when they confronted me, although I tried to downplay my use and my behaviors, it didn’t take very long for me to admit I needed help again.
My mom had been talking to a therapist about how worried she was about me, and the therapist gave her information on Innovo Detox. It was about an hour or so away, so we looked up the website and called them. Debby answered and spoke to my parents, who told them what was going on. Then she asked to speak to me, and I went into another room and think I talked with her for about 45 minutes or maybe even an hour. She asked me about what substances I was using, but she also asked me about me. My history and how I was feeling. She was very nice and understanding. I was worried about taking time off from work, but she told me that they could help me with that- that they would communicate with my work and help me get signed up for FMLA. That was reassuring. She took all my information, spoke to my parents again to get their information and my insurance information, and said she would check all that and call us back. She called back about an hour later, gave us all the insurance information and cost of detox, and explained they would need to do a clinical prescreen and set up an appointment for me to admit. I didn’t want to go right away, but Debby, my parents, and my girlfriend wanted me in ASAP. I knew I needed to go in immediately, but I was just uneasy and scared. Really, I think I was worried about how I was going to get sick and I wanted to keep using. Using opioids though is dangerous, and every excuse I had Debby or my parents had an answer for. So, I agreed to admit the next day. Debby scheduled a follow-up call to do a prescreen that she said their medical team would look at to make sure I could admit. She said she didn’t think there would be anything that would stop me from admitting- no major medical complications or psychiatric issues or anything like that. She said the stuff I was feeling- depressed and anxious- were normal mental health issues and that most people there have them.
A day later, my dad was driving me to Innovo. There was part of me that was relieved and excited, but I think more so I was angry. Angry I had to go to detox and angry at myself for being in this position again. And that was embarrassing. We arrive around 11am and walked into the lobby. A woman named Michaela greeted us with a smile. It was very clean and bright- not really like the rehab I had been in previously. Lots of windows and light. It felt…good. It felt like I was walking into a nice place, whereas the last treatment center I went to was pretty dark and crowded and filthy. I felt respected, although I was still filled with shame and guilt. We filled out some paperwork and then Debby came up and met us to do my intake. I don’t remember how long it took, but I answered a bunch of questions. She took time to explain everything to me- the rules, the schedule, what their expectations were of me but also what I should expect from myself. She told me I would probably be there for about a week, but that they would keep me there until I was both medically and emotionally stable. I didn’t understand what that meant, so Debby explained that while the physical detox from opioids might take 4-5 days and I would start feeling physically better, that Innovo wanted to make sure I was feeling emotionally better, because they would make sure that my treatment didn’t stop once I was detoxed. She explained how addiction is progressive and chronic, and that my chances of success would be much better if I was getting professional support over a long period of time. I didn’t want to do that, but we talked about my history, what I did do and what I didn’t do after rehab last time, and how I felt and behaved, and she then explained how long-term support would be beneficial. At least that part made sense. She explained addiction in relation to other health issues, which also made me feel a little better.
After my intake I said good-bye to my dad and was seen by Jim, who is one of the nurse practitioners at Innovo. He did a full history and physical. I thought he was very kind. After that I was shown around and went to my room. The place is much bigger than I thought, and everything was really nice and clean. It kind of felt like a nice hospital, but also kind of like a rehab, and kind of like a spa. Because of the coronavirus, it was explained that every patient had their own room, and they explained to me the protocols with things like masks and social distancing. The rooms felt like a hotel. Queen size beds and large flat-screen televisions. Lots of cable stations where I just watched dumb shows to kind of take my mind of things for a while. The bathrooms seemed like they were brand new. And I got like a welcome basket with toiletries. I felt like I was going to a spa. I met Kevin, who is like the director of the tech staff, and he showed me the cafeteria and the patient lounges. One is a game room with a foosball table and couches and a huge TV. The other one was supposed to be like a ‘quiet room’ where they had a bunch of books but also had a huge TV. Kevin told me that I was expected to attend groups and individual counseling sessions in the week or so I was there, so it wasn’t going to be just lounging around to detox, but that Innovo also wants to make sure that every patient feels respected and comfortable. It felt less like a hospital and more like a fancy hotel with doctors and nurses.
I was at Innovo for I think 9 or 10 days. The first 4 or 5 days were pretty rough coming off the opioids. But the nursing staff is great- they were always there to help me with my taper for opioids and help me out with other medications to make me feel okay. It wasn’t painless and I was definitely in some discomfort the first couple days, but I’ve been through that before and knew it was coming. There is no pain-free way to get off opioids. Roseann, one of the nurses, was always there to talk me through when I got medication, and the TA recovery staff was great. When I would feel anxious or depressed, they were always there to support me. Many of them are in recovery, and many had been through this themselves and now were in recovery for a long time, so they could relate to what I was going through. I saw the Medical Director, Dr. Saharan, my first full day at Innovo. He was amazing. He really knows his stuff and while he was very serious with me about my addiction, he was also easy to connect with and funny. He also spent a lot of time with me and asked questions that made me feel he was trying to get to know me, which was really different than the last rehab I went to. I don’t even know if I met with a psychiatrist at that other place, and if I did, it wasn’t for very long at all.
My first day at Innovo was kind of rough from the detox and I didn’t feel like going to groups. The staff informed me that it was okay, and they understood I might not feel up to it on my first day. But they also told me that the expectation at Innovo is that I was here to get better, and part of getting better meant engaging in treatment and not just hanging out for a week. So, on that first day, I kind of just kept to myself and watched TV in my room. There were a ton of cable options, and I was just trying to take my mind off what was going on. After the first day, although I was still not feeling great, I met with Colleen, who was my primary therapist. We met and talked for a while. Over the time I was there, Colleen also ran some of the groups I was in, along with Brianna, who is the clinical supervisor, and Kevin, who oversees the techs but is a certified alcohol and drug counselor. One of the things I think was really cool about Innovo is that the Executive Director also ran a couple groups while I was there. Her name is Molly and she also made a point to introduce herself to me and spent some time with me while I was there. I don’t even know who ran the previous rehab I was at, but I know I never met them, and they certainly didn’t spend time with me. It just felt that while I was at Innovo, I wasn’t a patient or a number, but the whole staff looked at me like a person, and a person they were all helping to get well.
After a couple days being at Innovo, Colleen introduced me to Mike. He’s the guy that coordinates what happens after leaving detox. Some of the people there with me went to other rehabs, like month-long residentials or outpatient programs like PHPs or IOPs. I wasn’t really planning on doing any of that. However, based on our conversations and everything going on in my life, Colleen and Mike said the recommendation for me was to go to an inpatient rehab, or like another place for 28 days. That pissed me off! I was there willingly, and I wanted to get better, but I also had a job and a girlfriend. However, while I was there, the admissions staff had been working with my employer (who also was supportive of me getting better) and helped to handle my FMLA, and they said I could take more time for treatment. I didn’t think I needed it, but through conversations that I had with Colleen and the other therapists, and that we all had with my parents and girlfriend, everyone agreed that I needed more help. Well, everyone other than me. But eventually, through groups and talks with the staff, and looking with some insight at my life and history, it made sense that addiction was a chronic disease and if I did truly want to get better, and feel better, and be a better son and a better boyfriend and a better employee, that I needed to do what would give me the best chance at long-term recovery.
Mike sat with me over a couple different meetings and looked at some options. He considered my age and history, my insurance, and location. Being from the suburbs outside of Philadelphia, we settled on three potential places- 2 in Pennsylvania and one in Maryland. I spoke to each of them with Mike, and eventually I agreed to go to a place in Pennsylvania. Mike explained that the staff at Innovo would coordinate my care with the new treatment center, so to make sure their clinical team had all my information, and their medical team would have everything they needed to continue my medications and treatment. I fought back a little because I wanted to go home to see my girlfriend before I went anywhere for a month, but Mike had me call and speak with her, and she said she would rather me go get healthy and follow the plan of the professionals. Plus, she could visit me at the new rehab during family visitation. I still wasn’t happy about it, but I knew that they were recommending what was best for me. I never felt like they didn’t care or didn’t have my best interest at heart. Eventually, as I felt better mentally and physically (and started to look better), Innovo coordinated with the next rehab and they drove me there to be admitted. It was a short stay at the detox, but the people at Innovo left a lasting impression with me about how much they cared.
Two more things I want to share. First, is my experience at Innovo with the food. It’s amazing! So everyday on the TV in the cafeteria, they have a menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Liam is the chef and he and the other cooks make incredible stuff! Everyday was different and more delicious than the next. There’s always soup or other comfort food available, they will make you things off the menu, and they support every patient’s diet, so if there is stuff you can’t have, they’ll customize a menu for you. There’s also treats and snacks always available, and this really good infused water. Everything is done with the interest of your health. It was like eating at a restaurant for three meals everyday I was there.
Second, I am now clean and sober since my time at Innovo. After I left Innovo, I had another great experience at the inpatient rehab I went to, and after that they set me up with IOP. I attended a local IOP three times a week. First it was virtually and then it went to in person. I also got involved in recovery by getting a sponsor and going to meetings. It sounds like a lot, but I remember what Debby had told me on that first phone call, about how long-term supports equals long-term recovery. I’ve had ups and downs and there are days I do better than others, but my family and girlfriend are really proud of me, I’ve been feeling better and performing better at my job, and I’m truly happy. I’ve found a sense of self and feel genuinely happy. I know that no treatment center gets a person sober, and that my recovery is my responsibility. However, I truly believe that the care and support I got at Innovo during my detox from drugs and alcohol was the catalyst for me to continue to seek recovery, as well as the amazing treatment I received from the rehabs I attended after Innovo. I want to thank to staff at Innovo from the bottom of my heart and hope that others who are struggling with addiction will reach out to get the help they need. They deserve it!”
If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorders, please give us a call. Innovo Detox offers the latest in evidence-based medical, psychiatric, and clinical care for those in need of detox and medical stabilization in Pennsylvania and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or a loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a detox, rehab, treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (717) 619-3260 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on our company or services, please visit our website at www.innovodetox.com.