Major Health Insurance Companies Now Recognizing Ambulatory Detox as an Approved Level of Care Another Major Milestone Accomplishment by Right Step—The Woodlands

Share Article

Medical oversight for detoxification from drugs and alcohol is available as a form of outpatient treatment known as ambulatory detox. Until now, some of the major health insurance companies did not recognize this outpatient form of detoxification. Right Step—The Woodlands has developed a program that meets ASAM clinical criteria and many insurers have agreed to recognize it as a covered level of care

"When someone is physically dependent on certain substances, suddenly stopping can be deadly."

Traditionally, detoxification programs are in-hospital programs or at residential treatment centers. Typically they require 5 to 7 days in residence. This poses a problem for anyone who cannot take a week off from work or other life-responsibilities. Many people cannot stop their schedule to go into a treatment program, so they choose to continue using until later—but later never comes.

To deal with this problem, a new level of care has been developed that has not gained traction in most substance abuse treatment centers: Ambulatory Detox. Ambulatory Detoxification is an outpatient, medication-assisted program in which the patient is under the care of a medical doctor and seen daily by a nurse trained in detoxification symptoms and complications. These outpatient detoxification programs address the need for patients to receive the medical oversight and symptom alleviation they need in order to be able to successfully quit without the danger of stopping “cold-turkey” on their own. These programs are effective, reasonably priced, and covered by many health insurance programs. However, some of the major health insurance providers in Texas have been reluctant to approve coverage for an outpatient detoxification until now. With the new program being offered at the Right Step—The Woodlands, many of those providers have given their consent to make it available as a covered level of care to their members. This is primarily due to the collaborative efforts of Susan Hanna, RN, CARN; Jason Powers, MD; and Marian Allen, MD, in developing and implementing a program and protocols that are safe and effective within a structured clinical environment in which the program is administered.

With the news surrounding the death of Whitney Houston, people are asking the question "Why didn’t she just quit?" However, quitting the use of drugs and alcohol is not always medically safe. According to Susan Hanna, RN, CARN (Certified Addictions Registered Nurse), Director of Outpatient Clinical Services at Dasu Enterprises Inc. and the Right Step—The Woodlands, "When someone is physically dependent on certain substances, suddenly stopping can be deadly." Physical dependence on alcohol or prescription drugs such as Xanax® (alprazolam), Klonopin® (Clonazepam), Ativan® (lorazepam), or Valium® (diazepam) may cause seizures many days after discontinuation of their use. While opiate medications used as prescription pain pills (Vicodin®, Oxycontin®, Loricet®, Lortab®, Norco®, Hydrocodone, etc.) and street drugs such as heroin typically do not have deadly withdrawal symptoms, they make the person quitting them so miserable that most people cannot maintain abstinence without medication assistance to ease the intolerable effects of withdrawal. Detoxification programs use prescription medications to provide safety, prevent seizures, minimize discomfort, and address withdrawal symptoms and side effects such as sleeplessness, anxiety, and nausea. Detox medications for opiates include Suboxone, a drug that can assist in diminishing opioid withdrawal symptoms. Now detoxification and treatment are both available on an outpatient basis.

Detoxification is not meant to be a stand-alone program. Getting through withdrawal is rarely sufficient to achieve long-term sobriety. Following an outpatient detox program, patients typically enter an intensive outpatient program to gain the structure, support, and skills necessary to maintain an ongoing life of sobriety. If you are dependent on substances and want help quitting in a medically safe manner, visit our website for more information or contact us at the number listed below.

For more information on ambulatory detoxification or Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs in the Houston, TX or The Woodlands, TX areas please call 281-465-4500, visit our website at

More About Right Step, and Spirit Lodge
Founded in 1990 and now the largest alcohol and drug treatment company in the Southwest, TRS’ 20 locations throughout Texas specialize in all levels of alcohol and drug addiction treatment, from detox to aftercare. Client satisfaction ratings exceed 96%, it is one of the 100 Fastest Growing Companies in Houston, Texas, and has earned the nation’s highest possible accreditation (The Joint Commission). CEO George Joseph, LCDC, was nationally recognized as a “2009 Behavioral Healthcare Champion” and “National Counselor of the Year” in 2000. He has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show is a guest blogger on that site. TRS Chief Medical Officer Jason Powers, M.D. was voted one of Houston’s “Best Doctors” and authored the newly-published When the Servant Becomes the Master. Right Step and Spirit Lodge are known for an unmatched dedication to valuing each individual and utilizing best practices to help people “live life sober.”

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

David Hanna, M.A., LCDC

Susan Hanna, RN, CARN
Visit website