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The Importance of Rehabilitation in Substance Abuse

A rehab facility is where addicted individuals and people struggling with substance use disorder can receive the care that they need in order to regain their sobriety.

Navigation: What is a Drug Addiction Rehab Facility?, What are the Different Types of Treatment Programs?, Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment, The Role of Support Groups in Substance Abuse Treatment, What to Expect from Rehabilitation Treatment Facilities, What Medications Are Used for Substance Abuse Treatment?, What to Look for in a Drug Rehab Facility, Seek Treatment for Addiction and Substance Abuse, Rehab is Your Best Chance


Substance abuse is a big problem as it often leads to addiction, drug dependence, and in some cases, a fatal overdose. While there are plenty of programs available to help treat addiction and substance use disorders, there are a variety of factors that go into the process of choosing the right one for a particular patient.

Different people are affected by addiction in different ways. People develop different symptoms, plus they have different circumstances and reasons for their substance abuse. Therefore their treatment needs will also be unique to them.

This is only one of the reasons barriers to addiction treatment people face. Because of the present stigma surrounding addiction and rehab, a lot of addicted individuals do not bother to seek treatment. In fact, back in 2014, around 22.5 million people in the US reportedly needed substance abuse treatment, but only 11.6% of this population actually received professional help. Other common reasons for not seeking treatment are the following: cost of rehab, lack of insurance, and inaccessibility of specific treatment types.

In order to treat drug addiction, it is important to understand the various treatment options that are out there. Let’s take a closer look at drug abuse, substance use treatment, and the various treatment options available to patients.


What is a Drug Addiction Rehab Facility?

A rehab facility is where addicted individuals and people struggling with substance use disorder can receive the care that they need in order to regain their sobriety. Drug addiction treatment facilities are equipped to help those in recovery to beat their addiction, mental illness, and other co-occurring disorders. Here they can recover from the physical and mental health effects of substance abuse.

When people say “rehab”, they often think about the facility where people stay during treatment. But rehab can also refer to the entire addiction treatment process.

Part of the reason why many addicted individuals are afraid to seek treatment is because of the misconception that patients are forced to stay in the rehab facility. Even in inpatient rehab programs, patients are free to leave anytime. Addiction treatment programs only work if the person actually desires to get better. They need to cooperate and make it their personal mission to change their addictive behavior. This means patients have to decide to stay sober and make positive changes in their life. 

If people are forced to stay in rehab, it won’t make a lasting impact.

Getting started on the road to sobriety is often the toughest part because a lot of people are in denial about their situation. But once they have overcome this hurdle, they can begin to receive the help that they need.

While exact treatment approaches may vary, most drug and alcohol treatment centers will use a combination of medical detox and behavioral therapies to treat addiction. Some facilities offer detox only, others offer only behavioral therapies, and then there are those that offer both as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

In some cases, the patient may have to look for a detox facility before they can get admitted into rehab. A medical detox is a process that involves gradually lowering a patient’s intake of the substance they are addicted to, whether it’s drugs or alcohol.

Anybody who has been abusing a particular substance for a long time will go through a period of withdrawal, which is characterized by uncomfortable and often painful symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms can have physical and mental health effects. They can also range from mild to severe. In some cases, withdrawal symptoms can even be life-threatening, which is why it is not recommended for patients to quit cold turkey.

During detox, the patient’s intake is gradually lowered and their condition is monitored by medical health professionals who can keep their withdrawal symptoms under control. The patient is placed in a safe and comfortable environment as their body readjusts to being drug-free or alcohol-free. This may take a few days.

Drug dependent individuals tend to experience more severe withdrawal symptoms because their bodies have grown used to the constant presence of the addictive substance. Detox will help them get sober, but in order to make a lasting impact, the patient also needs to learn how to stay sober, even on their own.

Behavioral therapies are used to treat addiction and change maladaptive behaviors. Patients will learn healthy coping mechanisms that they will find handy once they are back out there facing the challenges of the real world. They will learn impulse control as well as how to regulate their emotions. They will also pick up various strategies for drug refusal so they can minimize the risk of relapse.

Relapse prevention is one of the goals of rehab. But it is important to keep in mind that relapse is very common. Even if a person relapses, it does not mean that they failed. It only means they still have more to learn and work on towards lasting sobriety. You need to view relapse as just another obstacle in your addiction treatment journey.

A personalized treatment program works best because everyone experiences addiction differently. Even drug addiction treatment providers may have different strategies when it comes to dealing with substance use disorders.

Some rehab facilities offer gender-specific or age-specific treatment. Others specialize in treating specific drug addictions. Some focus on alcohol addiction. Patients can also choose between inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. There is no single solution for addiction. The key is in finding the right fit for the patient.


What are the Different Types of Treatment Programs?

There is no shortage of treatment options for patients struggling with drug addiction and alcohol addiction. These rehab centers range from basic treatment facilities to luxury rehab centers. It’s safe to say there is a suitable treatment program for everyone. But before you go out looking for a rehab center, it’s helpful to know what type of treatment programs there are out there.

We’ve already talked about detox, which is the process of eliminating the harmful substance from the patient’s body. This usually takes about a week. Medications may be used as part of the medical detox program.

After this, the patient may go through various treatment approaches depending on the facility they chose. Substance abuse treatment centers may offer inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), biofeedback therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), experiential therapy, and holistic therapy.

Later on we will discuss inpatient and outpatient programs in more detail, but first let’s focus on these various therapies.

Cognitive behavioral therapy uncovers problematic thought patterns and feelings that get in the way of a person’s sobriety. CBT can help prevent relapse and tackle co-occurring mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression.

Biofeedback therapy helps people understand the involuntary processes of the body. This involves reviewing the patient’s brain activity so that a therapist can recommend the right psychological techniques that will help combat addiction.

Dialectical behavior therapy or DBT treats severe mental illnesses like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) along with substance use disorder. This treatment allows patients to develop stress management skills and rebuild their self-esteem. DBT also encourages patients to eliminate certain triggers from their life.

Experiential therapy uses non-traditional treatment methods to help patients overcome their repressed emotions that may have contributed to their substance abuse. These alternative therapies work best when used in combination with more traditional therapies. Examples are: art therapy, music therapy, dance therapy, exercise therapy, equine therapy, and even outdoor recreational activities like rock climbing.

Holistic therapy focuses on the individual’s overall well-being. While dealing with their addiction, patients may try yoga, guided meditation, and acupuncture, among others. Other common therapies used in rehab are motivational enhancement therapy (MET) and psychodynamic therapy.

Rehab facilities may offer individual therapy, group therapy, and even family therapy sessions to help the patient make significant progress.

Treatment programs are different for each patient. These can be customized based on their unique needs and circumstances. Regardless of the program, the patient must stay actively involved throughout the process in order to get the most benefit.

Depending on their budget, a patient may choose to go for a luxury rehab facility. Luxury rehab centers offer more amenities, and they are focused on giving the best possible experience as the patient goes through treatment.

There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to addiction treatment. Patients should look closely at all the different options before making a final decision. Your choice of rehab will be influenced by a number of factors such as your budget and level of insurance.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment

One of the first choices you will have to make when choosing a rehab program is whether you want to go for an inpatient or an outpatient rehab facility. Therefore, it is important to know the difference between these two options.

Inpatient rehab provides a structured treatment that will allow the patient to focus entirely on their recovery. It requires patients to stay in a rehab facility for the duration of the treatment. Because they are taken out of their usual environment, they can concentrate on getting better without their usual distractions and triggers. Food and accommodations are provided by the rehab center. There are 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day inpatient rehab programs. The duration of rehab may also be shorter or longer depending on the patient’s progress and needs.

Inpatient treatment is ideal for those with moderate to severe cases of addiction. These are the patients who are at risk of severe withdrawal symptoms and would benefit from having round the clock access to medical assistance.

These programs are intensive. Addiction can be a chaotic and overwhelming experience for patients, and inpatient programs are designed to give them a sense of structure and control. Their days in rehab are going to be scheduled and it would involve frequent therapy sessions.

These programs are also perfect for those who are dealing with a co-occurring disorder, which will have to be treated alongside their addiction.

Outpatient rehab programs do not require patients to stay in a treatment facility. These programs are therefore less structured, less intensive, and have a higher risk of relapse. However, they are less expensive than inpatient programs, and they can also work wonders for certain patients.

Outpatient care is only recommended for those who have mild to moderate cases of substance use disorder and addiction. These are highly-motivated patients who do not need round the clock care from medical professionals. The outpatient setup is incredibly flexible, allowing patients to come in at night or even during the weekends. This allows them to go to work, attend classes, take care of their family, and keep up with their regular responsibilities and obligations outside of the rehab setting.

That said, patients in outpatient rehab are expected to stay sober and go through regular drug tests to make sure they are staying away from drugs and alcohol. Outpatient care involves regularly scheduled visits to the treatment facility. This will help them maintain their regular life while still receiving the care that they need.

Patients have to take care of their own food and accommodations. But since they are staying in their own home, this shouldn’t be a problem. Overall, outpatient rehab is the cheaper option.

Sometimes outpatient rehab is used as a step-down treatment for those who have already made significant progress in an inpatient rehab. It also goes the other way around, wherein patients who struggled to make progress in outpatient rehab are given the option to try inpatient care.

At the end of the day, one is not necessarily better than the other. It’s all about the patient’s condition and what will work for them best.

The Role of Support Groups in Substance Abuse Treatment

Aside from the traditional medical detox and therapy sessions, another important aspect of addiction treatment is participating in support groups. Other than learning ways to keep yourself sober, joining support groups can help you in maintaining long term sobriety. Receiving emotional support from a community that understands what you are going through can go a long way.

Throughout your addiction treatment journey, you need to surround yourself with positive influences. People who won’t pressure you into taking drugs, encourage drinking, or enable your substance abuse. Some friends and family members may end up enabling your addictive behavior because they cannot stand to see you in pain. But this only ends up feeding into the problem.

With the help of support groups, people in recovery can stay on the right path. This is usually done once the patient is out of the treatment facility. A huge part of addiction recovery is staying sober for the long term. But this is easier said than done, so sometimes you need some support from other people.

The people you meet in a support group can offer encouragement and motivation. Their support is a little bit weightier because they have gone through similar experiences. These people have been in your shoes and struggled with addiction the same way.

There are countless support groups out there that are tailored to specific demographics or substances.

Examples of support groups include 12-step programs, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and SMART Recovery.

12-step programs are known as the standard for those recovering from an addiction. Both Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are considered 12-step programs and they both follow the 12 traditions. The programs can be adapted to the specific needs of those in recovery, which is why they are famous for their success rate.

These 12-step programs provide a platform for individuals to meet and relate with one another about how addiction has affected their lives. These meetings take place on a daily or weekly basis, usually in a community building or church. There are open meetings where loved ones can attend, as well as closed meetings which are meant only for people in recovery.

Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other 12-step groups provide continuing support so that people in recovery can avoid falling back into their old patterns of substance abuse. Meetings usually involve people sharing their stories of addiction and recovery.

SMART Recovery is known as a popular alternative to 12-step groups. Instead of 12 traditions, it follows a 4-Point Program that can be completed in any order. The goal is to address all the underlying feelings and thoughts that are associated with substance abuse.

Support groups are only a part of the phase of treatment known as aftercare. It is an essential part of treatment as it comes after the patient has left the rehab facility. Patients often need continued support as they deal with the challenges of life and sobriety. During treatment, an aftercare plan is often created so that patients in recovery do not feel lost after they’ve left.

Addiction counselors will often create an individualized treatment plan for the client’s aftercare. This may involve staying sober living homes as the patient transitions from rehab to life outside of rehab. A sober living home can serve as a residential bridge between treatment and normal life. It gives people time to readjust to life outside of rehab and reinforce what they have learned from all their therapy sessions.

What to Expect from Rehabilitation Treatment Facilities

Now that you are familiar with the different stages of the addiction treatment process, from detox to aftercare, here’s what you need to expect once you enter a rehab program.

Before a patient starts with a drug or alcohol abuse treatment program, they will undergo an intake process. This is conducted by a mental health professional or an addiction counselor. They will assess the patient’s medical history, mental health status, physical conditions, vital signs, past rehab experiences, risk of violence or suicide, disabilities, and other co-occurring conditions.

There is usually an interview, urine screening, blood testing, etc. They will also look into medical records and any self-reports of substance abuse. There are other factors they take into consideration such as the person’s legal status, living conditions, and financial situation.

This will give them an idea regarding the person’s patterns of drug or alcohol abuse. It will help them create a personalized treatment plan based on the patient’s needs. With this intake process, they can determine what type of treatment is right for the patient.

Afterwards, the patient will go through medical detox, and then the appropriate treatment program. Medications may be administered if necessary. Medications help keep cravings and withdrawal symptoms under control so that it is easier for the patient to focus on their therapy sessions.

They will also be educated about relapse prevention and aftercare.

Different rehab centers may have varying approaches. Both physical and mental health concerns are addressed at the same time, because otherwise it may be difficult for the patient to make real progress. Co-occurring disorders are also tackled at the same time. Both physical and psychological effects of addiction have to be taken into consideration during treatment because they contribute to the person’s addiction.

Even the person’s mental health has to be addressed if they are to make a full recovery. Dealing with physical symptoms alone is not enough.

During rehab, the patient will go through individual therapy and group therapy. In an inpatient setting, meals are provided throughout the day. These are healthy and nutritious meals that are prepared to improve the person’s condition. There is also no sleeping in when it comes to inpatient rehab. Patients wake up on time and they also go to bed on schedule. This creates a sense of predictability and control, which helps balance out the chaotic nature of addiction.

Throughout the addiction treatment journey, patients will recognize their triggers and learn to deal with them. They will learn different ways to cope with these situations or avoid them entirely.

People in recovery are also taught to change their negative thoughts and habits that contribute to their substance abuse. They will learn to channel their energy into something more positive and meaningful, so that they are motivated to live a sober life once again.

What Medications Are Used for Substance Abuse Treatment?

Medications are used to manage withdrawal symptoms in those who are going through detox and also to keep cravings under control so that patients can remain abstinent. The most commonly-used medications in drug addiction treatment and alcohol addiction treatment are methadone, Suboxone, naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram.

Methadone is a full opioid agonist that reduces cravings for heroin and prescription painkillers. It helps promote long-term sobriety by keeping cravings at bay.

Suboxone is a combination drug that includes naloxone and buprenorphine. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist and buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. Therefore Suboxone can reduce opioid cravings. Naloxone is there to prevent the abuse of buprenorphine.

Naltrexone also blocks the effects of opioids in the brain. Most people get addicted to drugs like opioids because of the euphoric sensation they get from these substances. Medications like Naltrexone prevent these pleasurable feelings and therefore help deter opioid abuse. This drug is also used for the treatment of alcohol dependence and addiction.

Acamprosate can reduce post-acute and protracted withdrawal symptoms that have something to do with alcohol dependence. This includes depression, insomnia, restlessness, and anxiety.

Disulfiram does not just block pleasurable feelings—it actually causes the person to have unpleasant symptoms like palpitations and nausea if you drink alcohol while under its effects. This is also meant to deter alcohol abuse.

Medications work best when used with other treatment methods like therapy. This is called medication-assisted treatment or MAT.

What to Look for in a Drug Rehab Facility

Choosing a rehab program is one of the most important steps in your addiction treatment journey. You want to be as thorough as possible when searching for the right substance abuse treatment program, whether it’s for yourself or for a loved one.

Here are some of the things you should look for when choosing a rehab facility: accreditations, certifications, individualized treatment programs, appropriate staff training and education, relapse prevention, aftercare planning, and evidence-based therapeutic interventions.

The rehab program itself needs to develop personalized treatment plans for their patients, and it needs to be prepared to re-evaluate these treatment plans as the patient makes progress.

Looking into their accreditations, certifications, and success rate may give you more confidence in their ability to give you the treatment that you need.

You also want to look into the staff members. They need to be experienced, certified, and educated, but they also need to be kind, patient, and compassionate towards their clients. Staff members in rehab facilities need to be non-judgmental and empathetic. They also need to be trained in cultural sensitivity.

Remember that not all treatment facilities are equal, so you have to know what you are looking for. Begin by looking into the rehab centers that are closest to you. Location is an important factor, especially for outpatient programs because these involve driving back and forth to the rehab center on a regular basis.

Depending on the patient’s situation, they may want to stay in a treatment facility that is far away from their usual environment, or as close as possible to their loved ones so they can regularly visit.

Not everyone will make significant progress from the same kind of rehab program. So you may place some priorities on individual preferences and specific needs. Some facilities may be better equipped to handle your type of addiction than others. There are even certain rehab centers that specialize in treating co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis.

Some patients go for faith-based rehabs because it aligns with their beliefs, and more importantly, the philosophies that matter to them. Other patients may go for holistic treatment facilities that use alternative practices like yoga, acupuncture, and meditation. Those with a larger budget may even go for luxury rehab centers for the incredible amenities and gourmet meals. It all depends on what you prioritize and what your situation is.

Seek Treatment for Addiction and Substance Abuse

No matter what your circumstance, you must remember that treatment is available. Help is there for those who need it.

Addiction treatment may change the course of your life for the better. Even though some rehab programs are expensive, staying addicted to drugs or alcohol is going to cost you more in the long run. It’s not just the hospital bills—it will cost you your health, your peace of mind, your career, and even your relationships.

Addicted people compulsively take drugs or drink even though they are already suffering from the consequences. They will neglect their responsibilities in favor of the substance. This can send them into a downward spiral that can easily overwhelm them. It’s easy to feel hopeless if you are in this situation. So a rehab program is an investment towards a healthier and happier future.

Patients in drug and alcohol rehab are encouraged to rebuild their broken relationships and end toxic ones. Toxic relationships only add stress to a person’s life, leading to substance abuse. Rehab teaches you to break these patterns and recognize unhealthy relationships.

Patients are also encouraged to build relationships with people who can genuinely provide emotional support. This can include family members, friends, and even fellow rehab patients.

Even family members can pick up useful information from addiction counselors so that they can support their addicted loved one more effectively. They may participate in counseling sessions with the patient every now and then. Patients are not the only ones who should learn about the necessary coping skills. To prevent drug and alcohol abuse, loved ones should be aware of the steps being taken to keep the patient sober.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides plenty of resources about drug abuse and addiction treatment. There are many other resources out there that you can use to learn more about addiction, its effects, and how it is treated.

Look for a rehab near you today and get started on the road to recovery.

Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.



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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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