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Types of Rehab for Drug and Alcohol Addiction



Drug rehabilitation is designed to help people recover from drug and alcohol addiction. The intensity and length of services for any treatment program can be tailored to each person’s needs since no single treatment type will be right for everyone.

Addiction is a chronic condition, but with successful treatment and management, recovery is possible. Recovery can take time and may benefit from a spectrum of treatment supports. Recovery support often starts with a period of supervised detoxification, follows with some combination of continued outpatient and/or residential care, then continues with various aftercare efforts.


There are several benefits to seeking rehabilitation for substance use disorders. Trained staff is available to help support patients during the recovery process, assisting with any co-occurring mental health issues and offering guidance on what steps to take and what tools to use to create and sustain a drug-free life.

Finding the right drug and alcohol rehabilitation center is an important part of recovery. This article will explore various types of rehab, levels of addiction treatment, what to expect from treatment, and how to find the right addiction treatment program.


What Are the Different Levels of Addiction Treatment?


There are different levels of addiction treatment. When needed to manage withdrawal from substances such as opioids, alcohol, and sedating drugs such as benzodiazepines, treatment begins with medical detoxification. Since withdrawal management alone is not a substitute for more comprehensive rehabilitation, once a person has safely detoxed, they are encouraged to continue with additional treatment. Upon completion of treatment, an aftercare plan will be devised that includes relapse prevention tools and other means of post-treatment support.


Determining the right treatment plan is an important part of recovering from addiction. One major factor that is considered in addiction treatment is the level of care a person may require or benefit the most from. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has developed the most widely used and comprehensive set of criteria used by treatment professionals to place patients with addiction and co-occurring conditions in the right level of care. Based on patient assessment across these criteria, there may be several potentially appropriate levels of care at various stages of a person’s recovery journey, including:


  • Various outpatient services, including intensive outpatient (IOP) and partial hospitalization (PHP).

  • Clinically managed residential services at varying levels of intensity.

  • Medically monitored or managed intensive inpatient services.


Addiction is a chronic but treatable medical condition. A person may be diagnosed with a substance use disorder (SUD) if they have met several criteria dictated by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), 5th Edition, used by clinicians to determine treatment. The full criteria used to diagnose a substance use disorder are organized in groups that, when present, demonstrate


  • Impaired control over use of the substance.

  • Social impairment because of substance use.

  • Risky use of the substance.

  • Pharmacological phenomenon related to the substance (i.e., substance tolerance; substance withdrawal).


As evidenced by the several potential levels of care outlined by the ASAM, addiction treatment is viewed as a complex process that involves many methods of treatment and intervention.


Detox Facilities for Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation


Detoxification is often one of the first therapeutic interventions used in the recovery process. Detox protocols can help manage any lingering effects of acute intoxication as well as manage withdrawal symptoms. For alcohol and certain other substances, medical detox may be necessary to ensure safe physical recovery and can be potentially lifesaving in some instances.


Three essential components of many professional detox programs include initial evaluation, medical and psychosocial stabilization, and fostering patient readiness for the next steps in addiction treatment. In the evaluation stage, trained staff screen for the presence of drugs and alcohol and assess the patient’s mental and physical health, to provide a basis for the patient’s plan of treatment. During the stabilization stage, staff assist the patient through intoxication and withdrawal to reach a substance-free and medically stable state.3

Individuals undergoing withdrawal may not be prepared for the intensity of the symptoms they may experience, both physical and mental. Symptoms in association with some types of substance withdrawal can range from relatively mildly troublesome to potentially life-threatening complications, such as seizures and delirium, that can arise during the alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS). Substances like alcohol, sedatives (benzodiazepines, prescription sleep aids, and barbiturates, for example) and opioids can be particularly challenging to detox from due to the nature of their impact on the body.


Detox alone is rarely sufficient in preventing relapse and sustaining long-term recovery. Fostering patient readiness entails helping the patient prepare for follow-up treatment to address substance use. Principles of best treatment practices recommend that detox facility staff proactively connect patients to ongoing treatment to promote sustained abstinence.


Inpatient/Residential Addiction Treatment


Inpatient or residential treatment settings provides around-the-clock care and recovery support. Patients of inpatient/residential programs can stay at the center for days to months depending on their needs. They are provided with 24/7 care and support by trained staff. This level of care may be recommended for those struggling to manage their recovery on their own, those who are not benefiting enough from lower levels of care such as outpatient treatment, and those who reside in an environment that is not adequately supportive of their sobriety.


Additionally, inpatient stays may be recommended for those who struggle with co-occurring disorders (a combination of substance use and mental health disorders), have experienced prior relapse, or need medication or withdrawal management. Other reasons people may be recommended, or desire, residential treatment is the increased focus on recovery, clinical and medical oversight, prior history of severe or complicated withdrawal, or significant other medical and mental health issues.


Residents may reside in an inpatient setting for the length of time designated to them according to their plan of treatment. Once a patient and support staff agree that adequate treatment progress is being made, the patient may sometimes drop down to a relatively less intensive level of care like outpatient therapy to continue their recovery.


Outpatient Addiction Treatment


Outpatient treatment varies from a residential or inpatient program in that it does not require the patient to reside at the center. Patients are allowed to live at home or other non-clinical setting outside of treatment hours, which may consist of multiple sessions a week and then reduce in frequency as progress is made.

There are several types of outpatient programming, with varying level of intensity of services and time commitment. Standard outpatient services may include meeting with an individual therapist, receiving medication management, or participating in group therapy. Other outpatient care levels are intensive outpatient programs (IOP) and partial hospitalization programs.


Sober Living Homes


Sober living homes are another option for support in addiction treatment. These homes are designed to support a sober lifestyle by providing a safe, stable environment with zero tolerance for substance use. A home of this type is often considered a transitional living environment as it bridges the gap between intensive treatment and the isolation that can occur when formal services are no longer required.


People who are feeling strong in their sobriety but still desire continued structure and support may want to live in a sober living home for a while after they have completed other, higher levels of treatment. Transitional homes may mean having a roommate or housemates who also want to strengthen their sobriety through the accountability the home culture provides. Having the connections of others in the same community is an effective and often essential part of long-term recovery. Residents of sober living homes may continue to participate in therapy, groups, and medication management as well as attend 12-Step meetings and other supports in their community.


Rehab Aftercare Programs and Ongoing Recovery


Recovery is not over when treatment ends. Individuals in recovery will face challenges and triggers throughout life and may benefit from ongoing support. Rehab treatment teams may help patients formulate an aftercare plan before they complete the program. As a means of continuing care beyond the initial treatment period, aftercare programs may include relapse prevention techniques, helpful coping skills, attendance of 12-Step meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), participation in ongoing treatment, and involvement with people and activities that support sustained recovery.


Participation in a 12-Step program can offer those in recovery a chance to connect with others in similar circumstances and develop new coping skills that can help sustain recovery. Connection of this kind may be beneficial to reduce the risk of relapse. Support groups can provide connections to community-based resources and offer a system of peer support at little to no cost.16 Some support groups are women- or men-only or have a spiritual and religious focus. Others may be non-religious and focus primarily on building and supporting healthy life skills.


How to Find a Drug or Alcohol Rehab Program


Navigating addiction treatment can be overwhelming and finding the right rehab facility or program is an important step toward accomplishing long-term recovery. When selecting a program, it is important to consider what level of support is necessary to gain and sustain recovery.


A person who is actively using drugs or alcohol and experiencing acute intoxication or at risk of impending withdrawal may need to enter a program that offers medically managed detox services. They may also consider relatively more intensive levels of care—such as IOP, PHP, inpatient, or residential—that might facilitate the adequate amount of monitoring and support to keep a person safe and comfortable during this challenging point in early recovery.


For someone who does not need acute assistance, an outpatient program, sober living home, or involvement in support groups may be a good option for strengthening and maintaining their recovery.

A good first step toward finding the right treatment may be to reach out to a friend, loved one, or support person, or to speak with a physician about options for care.


Getting Admitted to Rehab and Starting Addiction Treatment


There are a few things to expect once admitted into the right treatment program. Upon admission, a person may first participate in an initial evaluation and intake before (or congruent with) starting the medical detoxification process. During the intake phase, an individualized treatment plan may be created to tailor to the patient’s specific needs and inform the direction of treatment. They may then enter formal treatment that includes a structure of groups, therapy, skills training, medication management, and other support. To maintain the strides made during treatment, a period of rehabilitation may be followed by an aftercare program that prepares the patient for sustaining long-term recovery.

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