Choosing the right level of treatment for substance abuse can be challenging for some. Like most things in life, addiction treatment must be tailored to your specific needs. Those seeking treatment have a unique background, such as what substance they abuse and what pushed them to that point. For those reasons and others, it’s essential they must receive the appropriate treatment that addresses their needs.
When it comes to getting help, the stakes couldn’t be higher – this is your life we’re talking about here. Choosing the right level of treatment couldn’t be more important. Fortunately, various evidence-based programs and approaches exist that can manage addiction to opioids, alcohol, stimulants, or sedatives. Below, we’ll help you determine which is right for you.
How to Determine if You’re Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol
Addiction was once thought of as a measurement of willpower. Those who couldn’t get sober were told to try harder, but that’s not the case. As more medical information prevailed, it proved that addiction is a disease of the brain that’s marked by compulsive substance use, no matter the consequences. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) mentions that people addicted to drugs or alcohol will exhibit an intense focus on the substance to the point where it consumes their entire existence. They’ll continue using despite the problems it causes.
There are distinct signs you’ve become addicted to drugs or alcohol. These can appear as behavioral or physical changes, and you should look for the following to determine if someone is abusing substances:
- The individual begins neglecting their personal hygiene or appearance
- Their sleeping and eating patterns resemble nothing that you’ve known from them
- They isolate or make new friends they spend their time with
- They’re constantly tired, have no energy, gain or lose weight, and are unmotivated
- They start missing deadlines at work or school
- They endure financial problems because they lose their job or spend their money on drugs
Addiction is a disease that can be fatal. The sooner you seek help, the greater the odds of preventing permanent long-term damage or death. However, each person seeking treatment is at a different level in their addiction journey, meaning determining the right level of care can be a challenge. Below, we’ll explain what to look for when choosing the right level of professional treatment.
What Should I Look for in a Professional Treatment Program?
The primary objective of a professional treatment program is to get a person sober, so they lead productive lives in society. It’s critical to ask the right questions to determine which level of treatment is adequate for their current needs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) put together five questions you must consider when looking for professional treatment. These include:
- Is the treatment program backed by scientific evidence?
- Is the treatment program tailored to the needs of each individual?
- Can the treatment program adapt to the patient’s needs as they change?
- Do they provide an adequate duration of time for the patient to get sober?
- Are there 12-step recovery programs that fit into the addiction treatment program?
NIDA also lays out the principles of effective treatment, which prepare someone for the journey they’re about to embark on.
- It’s important to remember that addiction is a complex disease that affects brain function and behavior. However, it is treatable.
- A one-size-fits-all treatment approach does not work.
- Individuals must have quick access to treatment.
- An effective treatment plan will address each aspect of the individual’s needs, not just their drug or alcohol use.
- Remaining in treatment long enough is critical to recovery.
- Counseling and other forms of behavioral therapy are common.
- Treatment plans should be reviewed and modified as the program progresses.
- Medication is a critical step in treatment, especially when used in conjunction with behavioral therapy.
- Medical detox is only the beginning of treatment and does not address the individual’s needs. Its purpose is to remove the drug(s) safely from their system.
- Treatment must address all potential mental health disorders.
- Treatment doesn’t have to be voluntary in order to be effective.
- Medication administered during treatment must continually be monitored to ensure it’s not getting abused.
- Programs must test their patients for infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B & C, and tuberculosis and teach the patient how to reduce their risk of illness.
Types of Treatment Programs
It’s important to remember that addiction treatment is not a cookie-cutter process. It requires delicate care that addresses all needs of the client. For that reason, effective treatment has various levels of care designed to address all addiction types, which the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) classified as the ASAM Levels of Care.
ASAM divides these treatment levels into five tiers and prioritizes them based on the intensiveness and medical intervention the patient needs. There are corresponding recovery services and elements within each level. For each stage of addiction treatment, there are different treatment levels, with some requiring more intensive services at each level. However, others may only need to undergo lower levels of care as they progress. Some clients might only require specific services instead of the entire spectrum.
Most professional treatment programs will start with medical detox, a procedure where the substance and associated toxins are removed from the body and help the individual achieve sobriety. It’s also meant to keep the client safe, especially in the case of alcohol, benzodiazepine, or barbiturate withdrawal, which are notoriously dangerous. The level of detox is based on the type of substance that was abused, how long it was abused, and how much was being taken.
There are three levels of detox treatment:
- Detox hospitalization
- Inpatient medical detox
- Outpatient detox
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
There is some controversy surrounding this particular approach. Some believe it’s not genuine sobriety if someone is still using medication. However, it’s a proven approach that keeps individuals sober. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the administration of drugs in conjunction with therapy to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. MAT is primarily used in the treatment of opioid and alcohol addiction, with medications like methadone, Suboxone, and Vivitrol. MAT can also include antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication.
Inpatient/residential treatment is where clients live on-site for their entire recovery period. These programs typically offer detox programs that transition into ongoing care. Hospital inpatient and long-term residential are the two levels of this approach. Hospital inpatient takes place in a hospital setting where severe health issues remain after detox, and doctors can manage any potential complications. Long-term residential is a highly structured setting where the client feels safe – it’s suited for those who need extensive therapy and care.
Not everyone who seeks treatment has the ability to put their life on hold. Not everyone who seeks treatment will also have a severe enough addiction to warrant living on-site for up to three months. For that reason, outpatient treatment is ideal for those who can self-monitor while in recovery. The client will still receive top-notch care, but they can return home once the sessions conclude. Outpatient programs are far more suitable for those with jobs and social support. This approach encompasses the “lower level” of ASAM levels of care.
There are two levels of outpatient treatment – intensive outpatient program (IOP) and partial hospitalization program (PHP). IOP provides intensive therapy and care without the need to stay on-site and does not offer detox services. IOP is ideal for someone that’s progressed through their recovery and doesn’t need inpatient care. PHP is for clients with health concerns that require medical observation.
Once you complete treatment, your journey has just begun. Getting sober with the help of others and staying in a supportive environment is beneficial because you won’t be around triggers. However, once you leave treatment, you’ll be exposed to stress, triggers, and temptation that wasn’t present in a structured program. It’s important to manage your addiction once you leave so that you do not relapse. Fortunately, aftercare support is available and includes services designed to help individuals transition from treatment back into their lives.