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What Exactly Is Substance Abuse Treatment?

Substance abuse is defined as the continued use of a drug despite worsening outcomes. Addiction is a complex disease and not a moral failure. Substance abuse will affect nearly every aspect of a person’s life and can be fatal. Someone addicted to drugs or alcohol cannot simply quit on their own, especially if the substance has dangerous withdrawals. It’s crucial that someone suffering from addiction get into treatment. Rehabilitation offers a supervised medical and therapeutic safety net. Substance abuse treatment is complicated. It’s not one-size-fits-all. Every person’s situation is unique, so their treatment plan should address their individual needs.

Types of treatments

Substance abuse treatment looks different depending on the situation and stage of addiction. A broad range of approaches are available to meet various needs, such as medical intervention, group therapy, family help, and others. After identification, intervention, and/or diagnosis, treatment options aim to address each area of someone’s life that their substance abuse has affected. Some people might need one item or all on the following list of care options.


Detox is the process of getting alcohol or drugs out of somebody’s system. Sometimes this needs to be done under medical supervision.

Inpatient/Residence rehab

These are live-in facility that offers counseling and withdrawal management. These supervised programs with structured schedules help someone readjust their life after detox. While there, a patient will attend both one-on-one and group counseling. Typically, a stay at a residence rehab facility is 30 days, but there are longer options available. One main benefit of this type of treatment is that it gives distance between the patient and a problematic home life. The rehab facility offers a safe, caring community of people who become an immediate safety net for the patient. By removing someone from their active addiction environment, they can begin to reorganize their lives.

Outpatient programs

Outpatients offer similar treatments as residential rehabs without overnight stays or supervision. They allow a patient to live at home or in a sober living facility, maintain a job, care for their family, and structure their own schedule. Outpatient programs offer different therapies and can accommodate each person’s particular needs. For example, someone may benefit from family therapy alongside their substance abuse treatment. The patient will have more success in their sobriety by enrolling in that type of program to help them build their familial support system.

Behavioral therapies

Therapists use behavioral therapy as one of the most common treatments for addiction. There are many approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, rational emotive behavior therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. Each of these will help a patient reframe their way of thinking, develop positive coping skills, and navigate their sobriety. They will also address trauma in different ways. This can help a patient get at the root of their substance abuse and better understand their triggers.

12-step programs

A 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous is a community-based self-help plan. 12-steps put people in touch with other recovering addicts. Meetings help them develop a social safety net of those who support their sobriety. This type of aftercare can become a lifelong commitment for someone dedicated to treating their substance abuse.


Medications are sometimes used in combination with other treatments. There are several FDA-approved drugs that treat opioid, alcohol, and tobacco withdrawals and help curb cravings.

Should you seek treatment?

While there is no cure for addiction, treatment can still reduce or eliminate an abused substance from the patient’s life. Success depends on whether the treatment plan offered a comprehensive approach. There should be a focus on each aspect of the patient’s life affected by addiction.

If you believe you or a loved one is suffering, please contact us to develop a substance use counseling plan.