Substance Abuse Treatment

If you have a drug or alcohol addiction, you need treatment to recover. Treatments range from intensive inpatient therapy to outpatient counseling. Numerous therapies are effective for different types of drug addiction. Recovery isn’t easy, but the path to sobriety begins by seeking treatment.

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Addiction is a medical disease, and it can be cured only by seeking treatment. Treatment can take place in a variety of locations and for varying lengths of time. It can also involve several different therapeutic components. Section Menu Some people require a 30-day stay at a drug rehabilitation center. For others, the process begins with outpatient counseling sessions. Treatment may or may not include maintenance medication depending on the type and severity of your alcohol or drug addiction. For treatment to be effective, you have to commit to counseling and therapy. Finding the right type of treatment for substance abuse is important. With hard work, recovery is possible.

Types of Addiction Treatment

The severity and type of addiction affect the type of substance abuse treatment that’s most appropriate for you. Almost every person with an addiction requires some form of detox to clear alcohol and other drugs from the body. More severe addictions require inpatient or residential treatment. Partial hospitalization provides a moderate level of care, and outpatient treatment provides the lowest level of care.

Nanci Stockwell of Advanced Recovery Systems describes each type of treatment for addiction and the process for people in recovery transitioning through the stages of treatment.

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Detoxification is usually the first type of substance abuse treatment that a person receives. Detox involves slowly reducing drug use in a safe and secure health care setting. During inpatient detox, you’ll be medically monitored around-the-clock. If you detox on an outpatient basis, you may receive prescription medications or attend daily appointments to monitor for drug use. Learn more about detox
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Inpatient rehab includes stays at specialized rehab centers, hospitals or residential facilities. The facilities provide a broad range of services that usually begin with detox. After detox, you’ll attend individual and group therapy sessions while living at the facility. You may also receive medication-assisted treatment or other complementary treatments depending on the facility and your condition. Learn more about inpatient rehab
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Partial hospitalization programs provide a lower level of care than inpatient treatment. You’ll still live at the rehab facility or in a sober living home near the facility. You’ll also receive similar services. But you’ll attend fewer hours of therapy, and you may be able to leave the facility for family visits, school or work.
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Most people move to outpatient rehab after a stay at an inpatient facility. Medication-assisted treatment, individual therapy and group therapy may continue during outpatient treatment. However, you’ll no longer live at the facility, and you’ll attend fewer hours of therapy than you attended during partial hospitalization. As you progress through recovery, the frequency of outpatient appointments will drop. Learn more about outpatient rehab
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Treatment Process

The addiction treatment process begins when you reach out to a rehab facility, hospital or therapist for treatment. You may receive a brief assessment over the phone, but the full intake and assessment process happen in rehab. You may begin with inpatient detox and transition through the types of treatment, or you may begin with outpatient detox. The course you take depends on the severity of your condition.


During admissions, most admissions representatives will talk to you about your addiction, payment methods and the services that their facility offers. If the facility has the appropriate types of services for your condition and you’re capable of paying for treatment, you’ll discuss how quickly you can begin treatment. Some treatment centers may have waiting lists. Others will be able to admit you immediately. Learn more about admissions process


When you arrive at the facility, you’ll undergo a full health assessment. During this stage, health professionals will ask about your history of substance abuse, relevant medical conditions and family life. You’ll also undergo a brief orientation that introduces you to the facility’s rules and policies. Learn more about the entire intake process

Length of Treatment

The length of rehab for substance abuse depends on the severity of your condition, the type of substances you’re addicted to and the presence of any co-occurring mental health disorders. Opioid addiction may require a month of inpatient treatment and years of outpatient medication-assisted treatment. A minor alcohol addiction may require a few months of outpatient treatment. Learn more about how long rehab takes
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Therapeutic Approaches

Certain medications can help you overcome symptoms of withdrawal for some addictions. Others can help you overcome cravings that complicate recovery. Counseling and therapy can teach you how to cope with triggers and cravings, and you’ll learn about the underlying causes of addiction.

Nanci Stockwell of Advanced Recovery Systems explains why different people receive different types of therapy and emphasizes the effectiveness of personalized treatment plans.

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Types of Counseling and Therapy

Counseling usually focuses on long-term coping and behavioral strategies. It can be individualized or occur in group settings. Evidence-based therapy provides incentives for sobriety, helps modify attitude and improves life skills. Common types of therapy include: Learn more about types of therapy for addiction
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Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment is a complement to behavioral therapy. Some medications can reduce symptoms of withdrawal during detox from certain drugs. Others can reduce cravings during the recovery process. No medications are currently available for cocaine, methamphetamine or marijuana addiction. Medications for alcohol or drug addictions include: Learn more about medication-assisted treatment
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Complements to Treatment

Other types of therapeutic activities may aid in recovery from addiction. These complements to therapy may not directly address underlying causes of addiction or how to cope with cravings. But they may help you view situations from a different perspective or cope with stressors. Popular complements to traditional therapy include: Some examples of holistic therapies that may benefit you during addiction treatment include acupuncture, art therapy and journaling.
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How Much Treatment Costs

The cost of addiction rehab depends on a number of factors, such as the type of addiction, co-occurring disorders, length of treatment and type of facility. In general, outpatient rehab costs around $10,000 per month and inpatient rehab costs between $20,000 and $30,000 per month. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also called “Obamacare,” requires insurance to cover substance use disorders, the medical term for addiction, as an essential health benefit. Learn more about what insurance covers during rehab
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Where to Find Treatment

Quality substance abuse treatment is available in a variety of health care settings. The type of setting that’s best for you depends on the type of treatment that you require and what’s available near you. Some rehab centers only provide inpatient detox or inpatient therapy. Private therapists usually offer outpatient counseling. Comprehensive treatment programs provide each type of treatment.
Common places to receive addiction treatment include:
  • Detox facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Rehab centers
  • Private therapists
Some facilities provide treatments for specific populations, such as addiction treatment for teens. Other programs may provide treatments for specific types of addiction, such as alcohol addiction or opioid addiction. Some programs are gender-specific. Receiving treatment for substance abuse doesn’t have to be an intimidating or complicated process. If you find the right type of treatment and a quality rehab facility, you can recover from addiction. Recovery takes hard work and dedication. But it’s possible with the right type of treatment.

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Chris Elkins, MA
Senior Content Writer,
Chris Elkins worked as a journalist for three years and was published by multiple newspapers and online publications. Since 2015, he’s written about health-related topics, interviewed addiction experts and authored stories of recovery. Chris has a master’s degree in strategic communication and a graduate certificate in health communication.
Kim Borwick, MA
Featured Expert
Kevin Wandler, M.D.
Kevin Wandler, M.D.,
Chief Medical Officer, Advanced Recovery Systems

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