For some patients, detoxification is the first step in treatment. An experienced team of physicians, nurses and counselors supervises and assists patients who undergo this step, which is entirely voluntary. Nobody is forced to participate against his or her will. Physicians sometimes refer patients; they may decide on their own to seek treatment; or family and friends may suggest treatment.
Detoxification takes place on a special unit at Swedish Ballard, where patients are assigned regular hospital rooms. Patients are not locked in. Detoxification varies from individual to individual, but for most patients, major withdrawal symptoms disappear within three to four days. After detoxification, patients who need further inpatient treatment are referred to appropriate programs.