AH7 Support individuals through detoxification programmes


For this standard you need to work with individuals to achieve stabilisation and/or withdrawal from substance use through a planned programme of treatment and care. Detoxification programmes involve a range of interventions to address individuals’ physical, psychological, emotional, social and legal problems and in many cases include the prescribing of substitute medication.

Users of this standard will need to ensure that practice reflects up to date information and policies.

Version No 1

Knowledge and Understanding

You will need to know and understand:

  1. how to pass information obtained during assessment or treatment to another agency in line with local protocols
  2. how to prioritise requests for assessment according to their priority in line with your organisations criteria
  3. how to involve individuals in the assessment of their needs
  4. how to assess an individual’s motivation and readiness to engage in a treatment programme
  5. how to review assessments at appropriate intervals once an individual has commenced a programme of care
  6. the importance of keeping full and accurate records, and how to do so
  7. the principle of confidentiality: what information may be given to whom
  8. locally agreed criteria for admission of individuals to a detoxification programme
  9. how to arrange for completion of  comprehensive substance misuse and risk assessments
  10. how to establish the appropriate level of urgency for admission to a detoxification programme
  11. advice and information required by individuals prior to a detoxification programme
  12. how to agree a contract of care, outlining the responsibilities of your organisation and the responsibilities of the individual during the detoxification programme
  13. how to involve significant others and carers in an individuals detoxification programme
  14. how to manage individuals’ expectations of a detoxification programme
  15. how to formulate a treatment and care plan for an individual
  16. how to involve members of other service teams in planning and reviewing an individual’s care plan
  17. how to actively involve an individual in formulating and reviewing a care plan
  18. harm minimisation good practice including overdose prevention, safer injecting, contraception and safer sex
  19. how to arrange for an individual to be tested for substance use, HIV and hepatitis
  20. how to review expectations and plans with individuals who are not yet able complete the detoxification programme
  21. the available detoxification options, including substitute medications and regimes
  22. locally agreed criteria for selecting specific detoxification options
  23. the evidence base for detoxification programmes and realistic expectations of outcomes
  24. how to deal with challenging, abusive, aggressive or chaotic behaviour
  25. how to assess the risk to individuals and to others from their substance misuse and/or co-existent problems
  26. the importance of regularly reviewing risk assessments
  27. the signs and implications of a range of substance misuse related problems including drug use, alcohol use, psychological problems, physical problems, social problems and legal problems
  28. ways of keeping your knowledge about substances and indications of substance misuse up to date
  29. how to understand the jargon used by substance misusers in your locality.


Performance Criteria

You must be able to do the following:

  1. confirm the eligibility of the individual for admission to the detoxification programme in line with locally agreed criteria
  2. arrange for individuals to undertake a comprehensive assessment to evaluate their substance misuse problems and potential risks to the individual and others
  3. arrange the start of the detoxification programme with the level of urgency appropriate to the individual’s needs and circumstances
  4. provide the individual with advice and information about the detoxification programme prior to commencement
  5. assess whether the individual’s carers or significant others have a role to play in the detoxification programme and if so, include them in the planning and induction
  6. agree a contract of care outlining behaviours which are unacceptable during the detoxification programme and your organisation’s commitment to provision of a non-discriminatory and supportive service in line with your organisation’s policies and procedures
  7. support the individual to maintain realistic expectations of the detoxification programme.
  8. formulate a treatment and care plan with the individual, involving relevant members of other service teams
  9. when appropriate, you refer the individual to a prescribing service for prescribing of substitute medication
  10. maintain accurate and complete records of referrals to other services in line with locally agreed protocols
  11. arrange for provision of appropriate services according to the individuals identified needs
  12. provide harm minimisation advice appropriate to the individuals’ needs
  13. offer the individual tests for HIV and hepatitis B and C
  14. regularly review the treatment and care plan with the individual and others involved in service delivery
  15. screen the individual for substance use to monitor compliance according to your organisations protocols
  16. review expectations and plans with individuals who are not yet able complete the detoxification programme
  17. arrange a discharge planning meeting with attendance by other service provider team members in order to formalise an ongoing care plan
  18. ensure individuals who have achieved abstinence are referred to sources of further appropriate support
  19. maintain active co-ordination between detoxification services and subsequent rehabilitative care
  20. encourage individuals who have achieved abstinence to be assessed for suitable rehabilitation
  21. complete case closure documentation promptly and accurately for individuals who have achieved abstinence or left the programme.

Additional Information

This National Occupational Standard was developed by Skills for Health.

This standard has indicative links with the following dimension within the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (October 2004)

Dimension: HWB7 Interventions and treatments

This standard has replaced HSC381.
AH7 Support individuals through detoxification programmes
Final version approved June 2010 © copyright Skills For Health
For competence management tools visit tools.skillsforhealth.org.uk