Detox to Rehab


When it comes to addiction, everyone has differing opinions. Some believe love is the way and others believe shutting them out is the way. We are not here to persuade you to think differently and come to “our side,” but what want to do is raise awareness on some of the issues that people who are in active addiction are faced with.

We hear a lot (and I thought the same way for a long time) “if they want to get help then they can just get help. They are choosing this life.” And yes, hypothetical person I am speaking to, addicts can get help once they are ready for it. Getting help is not the problem. Having the money, resources, and a good support system to help an addict stay on their sobriety path is an entirely different story.

Since coming to fruition, our group has forged a lot of strong bonds with the homeless and addicts. We have broken down barriers and have become a support structure they can count on. We welcome and break bread with them, listen to their struggles, and provide everyday necessities for them. They have become our friends and in some instances family where they have none.

What I want to lay out for you is the sometimes difficult process in which a person on the street has to go through to get into detox and then rehab.

Being a visual person myself, I’ll provide you with a chart:

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The first step is making the call to get help. They can call 1-844-HELP4WV hotline, where they must say they are ready to get help now. Once they are ready, the hotline staff begin their work - they find an open available bed in detox. Sometimes the only open beds are in the opposite part in the state. The time between an addict saying they want help and the time it typically takes someone to pick up the addict and take them to detox is 4-6 hours. That’s 4-6 hours on your own, thinking about the decision you just made, and being fearful of the unknown.

Now, just think about this. You are alone. You are on the streets. Temptations are all around you. You have decided you need and want help, but it’s going to be another 4-6 hours before someone comes to get you. That’s a lot of time to change your mind.

Once a bed is available and the person wanting help is picked up they are taken to a detox center in WV or surrounding areas. They stay in detox for 7-10 days. They are given a case manager and are offered help with getting into rehab if they qualify. You typically need either Medicaid or money to get into rehab. There are great rehabilitation centers, but most are full, so the odds of going straight from detox to rehab are small.

So, let’s say the person has gone through detox and has qualified for and wants to go to rehab. (Awesome!) Now they may have to wait a week before they can get into rehab. Being that they do not have a place to stay and live on the streets, they have no place to go between detox and rehab.  If they are fortunate, and there is a bed available at The Mission, they can stay there; otherwise, they are right back out on the street where they must fight to keep themselves clean and away from temptations until it's time to go to rehab.

If you have seven days sobriety under your belt, but you are put right back on the street with no support what would really be the odds that you are not going to turn back to drugs? That you are going to stay clean until you get to rehab? I do not have numbers on this, but I would say the likelihood is slim.

Going through something this life altering alone and no support system would be an incredibly difficult one, and it makes the thought “they can get help if they want it,” seem an implausible feat.

At The Change Initiative we have an incredible group of people providing a support system for those in need. Next week I hope to share the story of one the people we have had the fortune to offer support.

Special thanks to Karen Alastanos for walking me through the process.

- Tia

The Change Initiative WV