What Does “Social Detox” Mean?

by | Jan 16, 2024 | #Detox, #Support, #Treatment, Community, First Step


While not as common as medical detox typically found in treatment centers, social detox is a common type of method used in the process of physical detoxification from alcohol. The Magdalen House is not a treatment center, but through our First Step Program we provide a safe and comfortable setting for an alcoholic to physically separate from alcohol so that they may learn about alcoholism and begin working 12-Step spiritual principles to achieve sobriety. Since 1987, this cornerstone program has provided a 14-day, in-house stay to immerse thousands of alcoholics in support and education from recovered people in the community.


What is Social Detox?

Social Detox is defined by SAMHSA as:

“Social detoxification programs are defined as short ­term, nonmedical treatment services for individuals with substance use disorders. A social detoxification program offers room, board, and interpersonal support to intoxicated individuals and individuals in substance use withdrawal. The consensus panel has found that in actual practice, social detoxification programs vary greatly in their approach and scope. Some programs offer some medical and nursing onsite supervision, while others provide access to medical and nursing evaluation through clinics, urgent care programs, and emergency departments. Some social detoxification programs only offer basic room and board for a “cold turkey” detoxification, while other programs offer supervised use of medications. Sometimes medications are prescribed at the onset of withdrawal by healthcare professionals in an outpatient setting, while the staff in the social detoxification program supervises the administration of these medications. Whatever the particular situation might be, there should always be medical surveillance, including monitoring of vital signs, as part of every social detoxification program.”

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 45. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 15-4131. Rockville, MD: Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2006.


How do I know if Social Detox is right for me or my loved one?

We have an intensive phone screening that helps us individually evaluate each prospective client to make sure that thy are a fit for our First Step program. Our phone screening was written for us by a medical professional in the field of addiction and recovery, and our trained staff members conduct each screening. During our phone screening process, we ask potential clients very specific questions regarding their drinking history, whether they have had any medical conditions such as heart issues or high blood pressure, any history of seizures, currently prescribed medications, mental health diagnosis, and if they are withdrawing from anything other than alcohol. Once qualified, the client may be able to be admitted as soon as that same day. For every screening that isn’t a fit, we refer individuals to at least 3 of our Community Outreach partners. In some cases, for example, if they are also struggling with an addiction to another substance we may refer them to partners like Nexus or Homeward Bound.

In other cases, if a potential client does need medical detoxification first, they may be allowed to detox in a medical facility. After receiving clearance from a doctor, they may be allowed to come to The Magdalen House immediately afterward where they will enter into our First Step Program for a supportive, educational environment. We work closely with medical detox facilities in the area who are familiar with our services in order to make this process as seamless and as simple as possible for our potential clients.


What is the First Step Program like at The Magdalen House?

While monitoring our clients physically, we provide them with education on the disease of alcoholism and help them establish a foundation of recovery. Our community has individuals in recovery that volunteer their time educating clients on the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, the curriculum used at Maggie’s, while also serving as mentors (usually referred to as sponsors) for each of our clients – showing them precisely how they recovered from alcoholism. 

Our appropriately trained program staff, all recovered alcoholics and many alumnae of our programs, understand what each person is going through. They provide supervision, encouragement, and instruction for each individual trying to get well during their two week stay.


Combining Social Detox with Community

To help ensure long-term, sustainable recovery, First Step clients are strongly encouraged to “stay close to Maggie’s” and participate in our Next Step program and our Community program. The Next Step program is a structured three-phase, nonresidential recovery program for alcoholics that lasts approximately three months and consists of recovery education, group meetings, mentorship with meeting chairs, and more. The Community program serves as a continuum of care consisting of community, fellowship, meetings, and service opportunities available to all individuals in recovery, at any stage of recovery. To learn more about our programs or for information on attending meetings, please contact us.