Understanding Treatment Options

What to expect from SUD treatment

March 2, 2022
Woman holding another woman's hand

Deciding to find the treatment option that works best for you or your loved one is the most important first step toward building a new life in recovery! Below we will outline some of the different treatment options available, as well as some other important factors to consider such as cost, insurance, location and more.

What To Expect From SUD Treatment

After completing an assessment with a licensed professional, an individual is referred to a level of care that is best suited for their individual needs. Treatment is where the journey to recovery truly begins. Treatment programs not only make room for individual healing, they also allow for the development of healthy social relationships and community building to begin. Despite the level of care of the treatment program, an individual works independently with a licensed counselor to promote individual healing, as well as meeting with a group of individuals that have had similar experiences and are on similar journeys to recovery.

In treatment, individuals are given the tools that they need to maintain long-term recovery. One can expect to address previous trauma, work on managing co-occurring diagnoses, and work with family members to reestablish healthy relationships. Treatment gives those in recovery the opportunity to start the healing process and establish realistic goals in a controlled environment that can then be applied to life after treatment, when the individual is building their new life in recovery.

Additional options to address problems related to substance use disorder may include medication-assisted treatment prescribed by a doctor or psychiatrist and cognitive behavioral therapy. The decision to seek assistance and what treatment program to choose comes down to what the individual desires and believes will be most beneficial in addressing their most pressing needs.


Detoxification takes place in a medical facility that provides emergency triage and care. The primary purpose of detox is to provide medical interventions aimed at managing acute intoxication and withdrawal. The goal of detox is to clear toxins from the body and to minimize physical harm brought on by substance use. It is important to note that detox is not treatment in itself but often the first step in further treatment care and recovery. Detox is not a necessary component of treatment and yet may come before entrance to inpatient residential care or outpatient care.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient means that treatment takes place at a facility while the patient lives at home. In terms of time commitment, intensive outpatient may involve attending the facility several days per week followed by a maintenance phase of support care in recovery that could include one visit per week. Outpatient often involves group therapy, individual counseling and providing medication-assisted treatment to assist patient with stabilization. Benefits of outpatient treatment include convenience, cost, scheduling and additional therapies for co-occurring mental health issues.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment is recommended when substance use disorder symptoms and related behaviors are more severe and if the patient does not think they can attend outpatient treatment of their own volition. Treatment takes place in licensed facilities with 24-hour structured care, and the patient lives at the facility for a period of 28 days (four weeks) or longer as needed. Clients receive safe housing and medical attention in addition to group and individual therapies. Daily activities are scheduled to balance groups, education and therapeutic supported activities.

Types of inpatient care can be selected based on substances, gender and issue-specific addictions, as well as co-occurring mental health components. Residential care may also include attention to psychiatric care, nutrition and other wellness components such as yoga and exercise programs. It is important to note that most patients come to inpatient care on a voluntary basis and may choose to leave treatment at any time, but it is of course most beneficial to stay the course of treatment.

Prior to leaving residential treatment, counselors and patients work on a continuing care plan to outline the best avenues for continuing treatment, support and building a recovery platform. Inpatient treatment allows for medical stabilization and to serve as an introduction to the recovery process.

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