Decoding the Types of Addiction Treatment


When you finally make the decision to get help for an addiction, the last thing you have the motivation left to do is sort through the complex maze of treatment options. Here”s a simple explanation of the types of addiction treatment available to you:


Detox is the first step toward recovery for individuals who are physically addicted to drugs. Usually lasting from three to 10 days depending on the extent and duration of drug use, the primary goal of detox is stabilization.

For patients who abuse opiates such as heroin and prescription drugs, medications like methadone and Suboxone may be utilized to minimize withdrawal symptoms and allow for a more comfortable detox. Because detoxification is not designed to address the psychological, social and behavioral problems associated with addiction, patients are most likely to stay clean and sober when they complete some type of outpatient or residential treatment afterward.

Outpatient Drug Treatment

This level of treatment is best for individuals who struggle with substance abuse, are motivated to make a change and have a stable living environment with a strong support network. Patients typically meet at an outpatient clinic three to five times a week for a few hours per meeting, with treatment lasting a total of a few weeks to a couple of months. Treatment usually involves individual or group drug counseling, educational lectures and 12-Step work.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

More in-depth than outpatient treatment, intensive outpatient is ideal for individuals who suffer from addiction as well as other medical or mental health issues. Some programs offer day and evening programs, allowing patients to continue working, attending school and fulfilling family obligations.

Day Treatment/Partial Hospitalization

This form of addiction treatment is the most intensive form of outpatient treatment. Patients generally spend five days a week participating in therapy, 12-Step meetings, educational lectures and other programming that is similar to residential treatment, but return home or to another structured setting at the end of each day.

Residential/Inpatient Treatment

Residential addiction treatment is the most intensive of all types of drug rehab programs. Patients live in a facility with 24-hour supervision, a high level of structure and intensive treatment for substance abuse, co-occurring psychiatric conditions and medical issues.

Inpatient programs are staffed by addiction and mental health professionals who provide individual, group and family therapy, psychiatric support, nursing care, relapse prevention planning, life skills training and other services. After anywhere from 30 to 90 days (or more in some cases), most people continue with outpatient care after completing a stay in residential drug rehab.

The type of treatment you choose should be based on considerations such as the type of drug abuse, the existence of co-occurring mental health disorders, affordability, your motivation level, the amount of social support you have at home and the amount of time you can commit to treatment.

Whatever type of addiction treatment you choose, the ultimate goal is learning the skills to achieve long-term abstinence from all drug and alcohol use. Studies show that the following principles apply no matter what type of treatment you choose:

  • No single treatment approach is appropriate for everyone.
  • Treatment is most effective when it is tailored to the unique needs of the individual and the individual remains in treatment for an adequate period of time.
  • Addiction is a chronic, progressive disease that is treatable with medication, counseling and other behavioral therapies.
  • Treatment doesn”t necessarily have to be voluntary to be effective.

Though there is no easy solution to a drug or alcohol problem, treatment may be the most important step on your journey toward recovery.

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