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What Does Treatment for Addiction Look Like?

There are many different levels of care when treating addiction. The level of treatment based each

person's need and their willingness to participate. Most people have limited knowledge regarding

treatment and need professional help to assess and provide a recommendation. Often, the only

solution offered to someone suffering is inpatient treatment. It's important for you to be informed and

know you have options.

Following is a brief explanation of the levels of addiction treatment from the least restrictive to residential care.


Medical and Clinical Options

Outpatient Clinical

  • Therapists trained in addictions can assess, make recommendations, and help devise a plan for both the client and family.

  • Psychiatrists provides assessment and can diagnose issues such as Depression, Bipolar, ADD, etc.

When seeking help, don’t hesitate to inquire about the person’s experience working with addiction. Not all counselors, therapists and psychiatrists are the same!

Outpatient Medical Detox

  • Doctors who specialize in detoxification help users come off of substances without having to be hospitalized. They use medications to lessen the symptoms of withdrawal, lower the risk of seizures, and monitor their progress. 

  • These doctors usually require some other form of outpatient support with either private counseling or an intensive outpatient program. The client is assessed to determine if this is the best course of action. 


Supportive Outpatient Program

  • This is the lowest level of care within a treatment program.

  • This level of care provides 2-4 hours a week of group support after a client has completed either a residential program or an intensive outpatient program.

Intensive Outpatient Program

  • IOP’s are designed to provide support for a client who is not ready to go into an inpatient program or has just completed an inpatient program.

  • These programs run for about 9-12 hours a week, 3 -4 days a week for 3 hours. This can vary depending on the program that is best for the client.

Partial Hospitalization Program

  • The traditional PHP is a day program where a client attends an 8 hour program then returns to their home. Many treatment centers today provide a residential PHP level of care.

  • This means a client stays on property after their groups are finished for the day.

Inpatient Detox

  • Clients that require medical assistance to help them come off their substance will spend on average 3-7 in a more restricted part of the program where they can be medically monitored. 

  • Once the client has been medically cleared, they are “stepped down” to residential level of care.


Inpatient Residential Programs

  • These programs range from 30 to 90 days on average. 

  • How long someone stays in treatment is largely determined by the needs of the client as well as by the program that is selected. 

  • The focus is on developing skills to remain sober and identifying barriers to recovery.

  • The use of group therapy, individual therapy, education groups, and 12 step meetings are the primary modalities used to achieve these goals.


Additional Support Options

Sober Living 

  • This is a structured environment that provides high accountability to its residents to help them be successful in recovery.

  • These are usually residential homes with 2-3 people per room and a house manager to ensure integrity of the house. 

  • The residents have specific requirements that they must meet in order to remain in the home.

Halfway House

  • These are transitional homes for people coming out of the prison system. 

  • The primary focus is on helping them integrate back into society. 

Three Quarter House

  • This is a level of sober living for people who have accumulated some sober time and are ready for less structure and accountability but still feel they want the sober support.

Monitor Programs

  • There are various programs that differ in how they monitor but serve as a means to intervene in relapses. 

  • Most programs will provide a “Sober Coach” that will work with the addict/alcoholic one-on-one to develop plans around the key struggles in their life. They will meet regularly to review and update their plan and set measurable goals. 

  • The program will provide drug and alcohol screenings twice a week and will provide collaborative information to the family to keep them informed on progress or concerns.


Life Coach

  • Professionals who help someone get from where they are in their life now to where they want to go. 

  • A coach is trained to support, motivate, and hold someone accountable for achieving personal goals. This can be someone familiar with addiction issues but not necessarily so.

  • You will want to interview them to make sure they are a good fit for your needs. 

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