Addiction treatment

Seeking addiction treatment is one of the most important steps to take toward recovery.

Most people who seek addiction treatment either utilize an inpatient or outpatient program. These programs provide personalized services to help an individual overcome their addiction. Inpatient and outpatient programs are staffed with physicians, and other specialists who focus on creating recovery plans for an individual, monitoring their progress, and helping them stay on track.

Addiction treatment programs work best when they are customized to fit the patient’s needs. Factors including a patient’s medical and mental health history, lifestyle preferences, severity of addiction, and the withdrawal symptoms are all important considerations to make when evaluating the best course of treatment. Common treatment options include inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, sober living homes and ongoing support such as 12 step programs and therapy.

Addiction treatment is usually a structured program that includes:

drug detox

Detox from drugs and alcohol: Drug and alcohol detox is usually the first step in addiction treatment. People seeking help for their addiction typically undergo withdrawal symptoms that can be uncomfortable, and in some cases need to be monitored by a physician or other medical professional. Drug and alcohol detox often requires medication in addition to monitoring by a medical professional. The dose of medication that is administered usually decreases until a patient’s addiction or reliance on drugs or alcohol has ceased.


Rehab: Once detox is completed, people seeking addiction treatment usually go to an inpatient or outpatient facility where they are given customized treatment programs to help overcome their addiction. Inpatient programs are more intensive, and typically last 30 days, although many inpatient treatment programs offer patients longer stays. Outpatient programs are more flexible and focus on counseling, support networks made up of counselors and peers, and education.


Aftercare: In many cases individuals who leave a structured rehab program still need help to remain on the path to recovery. Aftercare services including ongoing therapy play an important role in helping people who have struggled with a substance use disorder stay on the right track. Effective therapy services stress the importance of accountability and support. Some examples of common therapies used in aftercare include 12-step meetings, support groups, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

The most common channels to seek addiction treatment include:


Inpatient Addiction Treatment

Inpatient addiction treatment programs offer the most intensive level of treatment care, the patient can receive round-the-clock medical and emotional support in a safe and healthy residential environment that is complete with experienced staff and a variety of amenities to aid rehabilitation. This treatment path is good for patients suffering from severe addiction and withdrawals who do not have a support group or a healthy environment and allows the patient to safely detox and focus on their recovery without the temptations of the outside world.

Each day in inpatient addiction treatment programs are carefully structured and supervised, a typical day will consist of working with psychologists, counselors and psychiatrists individually and in group settings. Inpatient addiction treatment programs generally last four to 13 weeks but often offer longer programs as needed.

Though inpatient treatment centers have strict rules, a common misconception is that the addict can’t have contact with their friends or family. Most treatment centers offer and encourage friends and especially family to participate in family counseling and activities. Both sides have been hurt and traumatized throughout the addiction, it will take time and effort to rebuild those relationships and regain trust. Unresolved issues prior to and during the addiction will need to be addressed so both sides can get closure and move on to allow healing to begin.

inpatient treatment

Outpatient Addiction Treatment

Outpatient addiction treatment programs are much more lenient than inpatient addiction treatment programs though still offer varying levels of medical and emotional support in day programs, intensive outpatient programs and continuing care. These types of programs are not recommended for a person suffering with severe addiction and withdrawals and tend to be better for people with a mild to medium substance abuse problem.

The most intensive type of outpatient addiction treatment is the day program, patients are required to dedicate a great deal of time and effort to participate in and successfully complete the program. The patient will only get as much out of the program as they put into it. Unlike an inpatient treatment program, patients have the freedom of returning to their normal lives and setting their own schedules between treatment and therapy, however, patients must commit to attend meetings five to seven days a week for multiple hours each day in which they will participate in ongoing therapies such as family therapy, group counselling, biofeedback and motivational enhancement therapy.

The next type of outpatient addiction treatment requires less time and more effort of the patient, the intensive outpatient program (IOP) is a treatment plan for the goal-getter, a person who has the strength to take each step and conquer it without having their hand held. The patient will need to participate in counselling and group therapy sessions for a few hours per week to guide them and monitor as they achieve their milestones, and the more they accomplish the less they will need to participate.

The final type of outpatient addiction treatment is an ongoing or continuing care programs such as individual therapy, alternative support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or other types of 12-step programs. These types of programs are often age or gender-specific, meet weekly and are led by a licensed counselor. Continuing care programs serve as a support group as well as a weekly reminder to stay strong and are recommended for anyone suffering from addiction, but are especially good for people who have already completed some sort of structured treatment.

sober housing

Sober living homes

Going into treatment and getting sober can be a difficult process, however, leaving treatment and staying sober is even more difficult. Patients often experience fear, anxiety, confusion and more than anything else cravings after finishing an outpatient treatment program and especially after completing an inpatient treatment program.

A sober living home is an excellent option for people after living in an inpatient treatment program. After living in a strict and highly organized inpatient treatment facility, a sober living home can help the patient transition back into the “real world” with all of its temptations and help them manage the remaining desire to continue to use.

The environment and the people in the sober living home will reinforce the discipline learned in treatment, prevent isolation and subsequent boredom, ensure the patient is in good company and staying away from bad influences. The people within the home generally follow a loose schedule and a curfew that accommodate group and individual therapy sessions as well as a variety of group activities. Often times sober living homes will help the patient find a job and housing when they have made the decision that they are ready to leave the facility to live in a normal and unmonitored environment.



Therapy plays an important role in addiction treatment programs as well as ongoing care, types of therapies include counselling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication-assisted treatment, biofeedback, holistic therapy, experiential therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, faith-based treatment and family therapy.

Here is a brief overview of some of the therapies most commonly used to treat addiction:


Biofeedback: Biofeedback therapy consists of sensors being placed on a patient’s skin to provide feedback to physicians or other medical professionals on a patient’s various functions including heart rate, muscle contractions, and breathing rate.

cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT helps people in recovery modify their thoughts, which may result in a relapse. CBT therapists assist their patients in identifying thoughts that may pose a risk to their sobriety. One of the biggest benefits of CBT is that the techniques that are learned can be applied outside of a medical setting.

dialectical behavior therapy

Dialectal behavior therapy: Dialectal behavior therapy, or DBT is focused on improving a patient’s self-esteem and providing techniques to deal with stress. Strategies of DBT include suggesting ways patients can seek out peer support groups that have a similar interest in maintaining sobriety, getting rid of triggers, and skills training.

experiential therapy

Experiential therapy: Experiential therapy is focused on experiences. It’s essentially a way for people in addiction treatment o address problems that may lie below the surface, so that confronting their issues are less daunting. Activities that are typical to experiential therapy often seem like they have nothing to do with addiction treatment. For example, dancing or creative writing.

faith based therapy

Faith-based therapy for addiction treatment: Faith-based programs use the power of religion to help people overcome their addiction. One of the key components of faith-based therapy is its focus on increasing a patient’s faith as they progress through a program. Although medical issues are addressed in faith-based addiction treatment programs, there is an emphasis placed on spirituality. Spiritual advisors often moderate group discussions and support groups, and the importance of unity is stressed throughout the process.

holistic therapy

Holistic therapy: These are recovery methods that do not require medication, and are often used in conjunction with more typical treatments. Examples of holistic therapies are yoga, tai chi, meditation, exercise, acupuncture, and massage therapy. The goal of holistic therapy is to provide avenues for someone who is in addiction recovery to achieve balance in their lives.

motivational enhancement therapy

Motivational enhancement therapy: Motivational enhancement therapy, or MET is focused on helping people struggling with addiction change their behaviors that may be associated with their addiction.

Support Groups

There are several well-known support groups that have been designed to provide a sense of community to those struggling with addiction. These groups emphasize the importance of accountability, and offer ongoing peer support.

Here are some of the more well-known support groups that are available for those seeking addiction treatment:

12 step rehab program

12-Step Programs: 12-step programs rely on a patient’s willingness to put their life in the hands of a higher power to guide them down the road to recovery. These programs are anonymous, and also include a sponsorship model in which a sponsor is assigned to a new member of the group to keep them on track and accountable.

alcoholics anonymouse

Alcoholics Anonymous: AA meetings provide a group format in which patients can discuss the impact of alcohol on their lives. These meetings typically take place in a setting like a church or community center. AA offers open meetings, at which family members and peers are encouraged to attend; and closed meetings, which only include other members of AA.

narcotics anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous: Based on the AA model, NA provides a similar supportive setting for people who are struggling with an addiction to drugs. NA meetings are not religious per-se, but many of their teachings are based on spirituality.

Smart recovery

SMART Recovery: Founded in 1994, SMART Recovery offers a 4-point program that includes motivation, coping mechanisms, thought management, and balance. Tools include a change plan worksheet, brainstorming sessions, unconditional self-acceptance, and a decision making worksheet.

rehab search

Seeking addiction treatment

A healthy, productive life without drugs is achievable for anyone, the first step to recovery is to not try to do it alone. Addiction treatment is a long process that requires a level of professional medical attention, as well as thorough and consistent emotional support of loved ones and professionals. Once in treatment, it is important to detox and recover in a safe, healthy and controlled environment and then to maintain a strong support system of meaningful relationships in a healthy environment.

Individuals who are thinking about seeking addiction treatment are not alone. There are more than 14,500 drug treatment facilities in the United States alone. These facilities provide a variety of services to patients with a substance use disorder including therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and support groups. Whether you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, there are a multitude of avenues available to help get back on track to achieving a balanced, healthy and happy life.