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 Treatment Centers 

 What is a Treatment Center? 


Why Choose Treatment?


Substance use disorder treatment programs provide valuable help to thousands of individuals struggling with a substance use disorder. Addiction to alcohol and drugs affects people of all ages, genders and cultural backgrounds. Despite the large demographic variability, all share one very important commonality – they need help!

For many, drug addiction treatment can mean the difference between life and death.


What Is Substance Use Disorder Treatment?


Normal daily functioning, including productive employment, relations with family and loved ones, and avoidance of legal entanglements can be achieved with assistance from effective substance use disorder (SUD) treatment.

SUD programs of all types strive to break the cycle of compulsive drug seeking behavior and the damages of continued drug or alcohol abuse. Treatment setting and type are highly variable and will depend largely on each individual’s specific situation and needs. For some, SUD recovery can be achieved with relatively short outpatient programs. Others might benefit more from a longer duration residential rehab.

This isn’t to say that all outpatient or inpatient programs are the same. Numerous types of treatment modalities might be employed in any outpatient or inpatient program – again, dependent on an individual’s specific SUD history and their demonstrated response to treatment. Furthermore, for many people, the chronic nature of SUD problems necessitates vigilant outcome monitoring and, possibly, multiple intervention attempts. However, with focus and attention, recovery is possible.

Types of SUD Treatment

Those seeking treatment for SUD would benefit greatly from an initial assessment or evaluation by an addiction professional. Whether it's from a physician, psychologist, addiction counselor or other qualified individual with addiction treatment experience, the insight offered in terms of recommending an appropriate treatment type will prove invaluable to bolstering chances of a successful outcome.

Since the 1980s, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has availed its list of criteria (The ASAM Criteria or ASAM patient placement criteria) that can be utilized in helping clinicians with matching patients with SUD problems with 5 broad categories or types of SUD treatment. The ASAM criteria emphasizes that treatment exists on a continuum, and that outcome monitoring both during and after treatment can determine whether a patient could benefit from more or less intensive treatment types that fall on the scale.



Many of the broad categories from the ASAM criteria reflect the types, and varying levels of treatment intensiveness, predominantly encountered in the addiction treatment realm. These include:

  • Outpatient Treatment – Can be delivered from a doctor’s office or other clinical setting. Outpatient treatment lies near the “least intensive” end of the treatment continuum, and is typically reserved for those with the least severe SUD issues, active employment commitments and a robust set of social support in place. Treatment can range from drug education, sober skills training, to more frequently scheduled counseling and addiction therapy and, even, outpatient detox programs. Treatment length is variable and contingent on recovery progress.

  • Intensive Outpatient Treatment/ Partial Hospitalization / Day Treatment Programs – Somewhat more intensive than the prior category; still, this consists of many of the services available in regular outpatient treatment, but administered a bit more frequently and/or for longer periods of the day. Additionally, intensive outpatient or partial hospitalization can accommodate patient’s with co-existing medical or mental health issues and allow them access to many of the services that exist for an inpatient population during the hours of the day that the intensive outpatient treatment occurs.

  • Residential Treatment – For more severe SUD issues that require the stability of round-the-clock attention; residents are placed in a 24-hour care situation, with the potential benefit of removing them from contributing situations or factors that exacerbate their addiction to begin with. Daily activities can consist of numerous individual and group counseling sessions. Many residential treatment centers also provide monitored detox and withdrawal, as well as more intense treatment for dual diagnosis psychiatric or behavioral addiction issues.

  • Intensive Inpatient Hospitalization – Full-time, fully supervised, hospital-based care for those with severe SUD issues as well as serious co-existing medical or mental health conditions. Frequently, an intensive inpatient hospitalization will begin a period of SUD treatment if the patient has been admitted in a seriously deteriorated medical or psychiatric state, and close monitoring and/or medical intervention to return them to stable condition is in order.


When it comes to finding an effective substance use disorder treatment program it is important to find a facility that provides its patients with a full continuum of care.

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As mentioned, effective substance use disorder treatment isn’t a one-size-fits-all phenomenon. A highly variable patient population demands a more tailored approach to treatment.


Some of the variables that will determine just what type of program is most appropriate include:

  • Length of the drug or alcohol problem.

  • Type of substance used.

  • Frequency/amount of use.

  • Number of previous treatment attempts.

  • The existence of multiple abused substances.

  • Co-existing or dual diagnosis psychiatric conditions.

  • Co-existing or dual diagnosis behavioral addictions.

  • Co-existing medical conditions.

  • The need for medically assisted detox and withdrawal.

  • The need for pharmacotherapy during recovery.

  • The need for employment, family or legal counseling and/or assistance.


The National Institute on Substance use disorder (NIDA) has published an evidence-based guide (Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide) that provides more detail on these and other factors that can contribute, in part, to an effective and comprehensive drug treatment program.


What to Look for in a Treatment Program

Locating a supportive program with services carefully matched to your needs will be a key step to embark upon recovery. While the decision of substance use disorder treatment type is best left to an addiction treatment professional, there are a number of factors to be considered in ultimately selecting a substance use disorder treatment program.

Some important questions to ask include the following:


  • Are the majority of staff doctors, nurses and counselors credentialed in addiction treatment or addiction medicine?

  • Are there treatment center or practitioner reviews available to the public?

  • How close to home will treatment take place? Will travel or transportation be necessary?

  • Can I continue to work or have access to email, phone and/or computers?

  • Are there special programs available for different groups (e.g. teens, seniors, gender lines, LGBT, substance type, etc.)?

  • Can I request a private room?

  • Will my insurance cover payment for this rehab or program?

  • How can I supplement payment if insurance only pays for part of my treatment?

  • Can treatment accommodate dual diagnosis issues?

  • Are there medically assisted detox services available?

  • Are specialized treatment modalities available, such as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), or holistic treatment?

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