Drug Addiction Treatment Programs
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Addiction Treatment
For Adults

Types of Drug Addiction Treatment Programs

AAC offers a full spectrum of substance abuse treatment services to clients, based upon his or her individual needs as assessed through comprehensive evaluations at admission and throughout their participation in the drug addiction treatment program. The assignment to and frequency of services corresponds to individualized treatment plans within the context of the level of care and treatment intensity level. Please refer to the following for a list of provided levels of care:

Medical Detox

Medical Detox is the highest level of care because it involves medical monitoring of the withdrawal process so the body can safely heal from chemical dependency. During detox, which typically lasts 5-7 days, our licensed team of medical doctors and nurses addresses any medical issues, administers appropriate medications, and provides 24/7 supervision.
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Residential Detox

Our treatment facility will work with local providers, to assess clients’ detox needs. Once clients have been medically cleared, facility staff transports them to a specified residential setting that is staffed 24/7 by Biomedical Techs (BMT). Clients administer their own medication in the presence of BMTs. For the safety of clients, medications are kept in a secure location that remains locked at all times. In case of non-life threatening emergencies or to report changes in a client’s mental, physical, or emotional status, we have providers on-call to assist.

Without professional supervision and medications to mitigate withdrawal symptoms, the risks of health complications and relapse substantially increase.

Residential Treatment (RT)

Clients enter residential treatment, also known as inpatient treatment, once they are medically cleared and their withdrawal symptoms have stabilized. Residential clients reside at our facilities and are monitored 24/7. Staff ensures clients are safe, actively involved in their treatment program and are attending regular group therapy and individual therapy sessions. Co-occurring behavioral and mental health issues are addressed, as appropriate. Co-occurring issues commonly treated in an addiction treatment program are depression, bipolar, anxiety, and trauma conditions.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

PHP is a structured program providing care at least five days a week for no less than six hours per day. Partial Hospitalization Program clients attend daily programming, structured group therapy, and weekly individual therapy sessions. They also have greater access to the community and outside support group meetings, while learning how to have fun in recovery through recreational activities and experiential therapies. The purpose of PHP is to move clients away from around-the-clock supervision and gain more real-life experience in the community.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

The least restrictive of our treatment programs, providing care for three days a week, three hours per day, at minimum, this program allows clients greater access to the community. The focus of an IOP is to reintegrate these individuals back into society while further developing aftercare/discharge plans, exploring job and/or volunteer opportunities, and preparing to make the transition to the next step in their recovery.
Your Next Steps
  1. Contact a Treatment Consultant
  2. Verify Your Benefits
  3. AssessmentSee the Admissions Process >

Medical Detox at American Addiction Centers

Detoxification is an essential step in the treatment process. A medical detox program helps individuals safely stop using their drug(s) of choice and removes residual toxins from the body caused by the body’s physiological dependence of the substance(s) in a safe, medically supervised setting. While both drug detox and alcohol detox can be unpleasant at times, without them toxins may remain in the body and continue to cause cravings, medical complications, and psychological/ emotional distress.
Since the use of substances causes changes in the body’s biochemistry, it takes time and professional supervision and treatment to recover and restore equilibrium.

This biochemistry component of the addiction disease is why professionals and medical research strongly recommend that individuals seek detox services instead of quitting cold turkey.

Without professional supervision and medications to mitigate withdrawal symptoms, the risks of health complications and relapse substantially increase.

Furthermore, studies by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) show an increased risk of fatal overdose when individuals relapse during this period due to the body’s shift in tolerance levels.

How Detox Works at AAC

Step 1: On-Site Assessment

When clients walk through our doors, they are greeted by staff and escorted to a private area for discussion, assessment and completion of paperwork. This initial on-site assessment helps determine the needed intensity of treatment services and level of care based on presenting symptoms and conditions.

Step 2: Clinical Assessment

Within 24 hours of admission, additional assessments that include medical history and physical and psychological evaluations are completed based on the assessments’ findings. Nurses obtain orders for medications from licensed physicians that help reduce or eliminate any withdrawal symptoms.

Step 3: Tapering Program

Detox tapering protocols are started according to physician’s orders. Tapering protocols signify how long the drug detox or alcohol detox program will last, approximately, and the pace at which daily dosages of detox medications will be reduced.

It is important to emphasize that each person’s withdrawal experience is unique based on:

  • Substance(s) used (including amount, frequency and method of use)
  • Tolerance level
  • Severity of addiction (including history and progression)
  • Co-occurring medical and mental health conditions.

This is why we take the time to thoroughly assess and gather each person’s input and preferences. We realize that in order to effectively help, we must treat to your experience.

Step 4: Transition to Treatment

The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that the longer the time between detox and residential treatment, the greater the risk of relapse. It is for this reason that clients immediately transition from our detox program upon completion to one of our addiction treatment programs.

Detox FAQs

I’m afraid to enter treatment because I don t want to go through withdrawal. What should I do?

Detox can be challenging, but there is no need to be fearful of withdrawal. Our facilities that provide on-site detoxification are staffed with licensed medical teams that closely monitor clients for signs and symptoms of withdrawal. By progressing through the detox progress, withdrawal symptoms tremendously diminish.

What is the detox environment at American Addiction Centers like?

Detox rooms are located away from the main areas of the facilities to promote a quiet environment, especially during peak days of withdrawal. Detox rooms are close to staff offices for easy access as frequent monitoring is necessary. And because American Addiction Centers specialized in dual diagnosis—simultaneously treating substance abuse and behavioral health issues—our licensed psychiatrists are present during the detox process and can address high levels of stress anxiety.

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Finding Help for Addiction

Addiction is a medical disorder that is chronic in nature and defined by the inability to manage the impulse to drink and/or get high no matter how negatively the use of these substances impacts the person’s life. Physical dependence characterized by withdrawal symptoms when without the drug of choice, plus psychological dependence upon the drug or drugs defined by cravings, add up to an addiction disorder diagnosis. Even a genuine desire to stop using drugs or drinking is not enough to manage the disorder; rather, once addiction has set in, medical treatment including detox, medication, and a range of long-term therapies as well as aftercare support are recommended for long-term healing.

Unfortunately, addiction can strike anyone, anywhere, at any time. Though some people can safely use alcohol and even experiment with certain drugs recreationally without developing an addiction disorder, others cannot. An estimated one in 10 Americans aged 12 and older is living with a drug problem, including addiction, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also notes that the number of Americans living with an addiction adds up to about 2.6 million people, yet report that only about 11 percent of that number get the addiction treatment they need to heal.

If you, or someone you love, are struggling with addiction, the time to seek addiction treatment is right now.

living with a drug problem

What Is Addiction?

What Is the Difference between Substance Abuse And Addiction?

SAMHSA defines use, abuse, and addiction to any illicit substance very specifically. “Use”of drugs and alcohol includes any alcohol or drug ingestion by any means with the intent to socialize and relax with others on a recreational level. Though the amount used may not seem to be harmful and may not ultimately lead to dependence upon the substance of choice, it may still put the individual in harm’s way if recreational drug or alcohol use leads to unsafe choices or situations while the person is under the influence.

“Abuse”of drugs and alcohol is defined as chronic use of any illicit substance that results in at least one of the following issues in the past year:

  • An inability to maintain commitments or fulfill obligations in one’s career, at school, or in the home.
  • Physically dangerous situations that could lead to accident.
  • Legal problems related to use of any substance or choices made while under the influence.
  • Relationship difficulties at home, with neighbors, and/or in the workplace.

“Addiction,”or dependence upon a drug or drugs, including alcohol, is defined by experiencing three or more of the following problems within the past year as a direct consequence of chronic use of the substances of choice:

  • The individual builds a tolerance to the drug of choice (e.g., requiring higher and higher doses in order to experience the “high”associated with use).
  • Money designated for survival (e.g., rent, food, utilities) is instead used to buy drugs and alcohol.
  • Care of dependent family members or regard for the safety of others in general, including in the workplace and on the road, becomes negligent.
  • The individual experiences physical withdrawal symptoms when without the drug of choice that will vary depending on the specific substance but may include nausea, shaking, chills, sweating, vomiting, body pains, and more.
  • The individual takes the substance of choice more often or in larger amounts than originally intended.
  • Despite a genuine desire to stop using or drinking, the individual is unable to moderate or stop use of all substances for any length of time.
  • The major focus of almost every day is getting high or drunk, recovering from the effects of drugs or alcohol, obtaining more drugs and alcohol, or doing things that will in general enable the ability to get and stay high.
  • Individuals may no longer take part in hobbies or social events that were once important to them due to substance abuse.
  • Despite the fact that negative consequences of using drugs and alcohol continue to pile up, the individual is unable to quit.

How Does ‘Use’ Become ‘Addiction’?

No one takes their first drink or tries a new drug with the intent to develop a dependence upon the substance.

However, regular use of addictive substances can lead to a tolerance, or the need to take more and more in order to experience the original effects. This tolerance coupled with regular use can lead to physical dependence, which in turn may translate into withdrawal symptoms when without the drug. This experience is often also characterized by cravings for the substance and, when combined with the tolerance and withdrawal symptoms, individuals may suddenly find themselves living with an addiction despite their original intention to only use the drug or drink occasionally.

man abusing substances

Common Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

There is a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms that can indicate a drug addiction problem. These will vary depending upon the specific drug and its mechanism in the brain and body as well the dose used daily, whether or not other drugs including alcohol are also being abused, underlying medical or mental health issues experienced by the individual, and how long the person has been abusing the drug of choice.

However, there are numerous signs and symptoms of drug abuse and addiction that can help family members to recognize the need for treatment when it arises. These include:

  • Increased physical illness (e.g., cold and flu symptoms) or low energy and complaints of fatigue
  • Extreme changes in eating patterns (e.g., eating far more than usual or in binges, eating far less than usual, and avoiding food completely for long stretches of time)
  • Extreme changes in sleeping patterns (e.g., spending more time in bed than usual, sleeping at odd hours, or not sleeping for days on end)
  • Development of chronic health disorders related to drug use (e.g., asthma and breathing complications when the drug is smoked, liver damage due to drinking, or heart problems due to heroin or stimulant abuse), including mental health disorders
  • Exacerbation of symptoms of underlying medical or mental health disorders
  • Extreme mood swings that vary with use of different drugs
  • Extreme physical illness (e.g., withdrawal symptoms) that come on quickly and/or disappear quickly with use of the drug of choice
  • Refusal to spend time with family or old friends, manage work and other commitments, manage finances effectively, or prioritize general health and wellness

Whether or not an individual’s use of drugs and alcohol is defined as “abuse”or “addiction,”if the person is unable to stop drinking and getting high without support, it’s a problem that requires treatment.

Common Drugs of Addiction

There is a range of substances ” legal and illegal ” that are used recreationally to get high or in the maintenance of an ongoing addiction. Some commonly abused drugs include the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Prescription opiates (e.g., oxycodone and hydrocodone)
  • Prescription benzodiazepines (e.g., lorazepam and diazepam)
  • Prescription stimulants (e.g., amphetamine/dextroamphetamine and methylphenidate)
  • Synthetic cannabinoids (e.g., synthetic marijuana and Spice)
  • Synthetic cathinones (e.g., bath salts)
  • Steroids and performance-enhancing drugs
  • Inhalants (e.g., cleaners, aerosols, and sprays)
  • Over-the-counter medications (e.g., certain cold medications and weight loss supplements)
  • Club drugs (e.g., ecstasy and Molly)
  • Hallucinogens (e.g., LSD, peyote, and mushrooms)
  • Heroin
  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Crystal meth
  • PCP

When Is Treatment Needed?

The development of addiction is a process, one that happens quickly in some people and more slowly in others. Like everything about a person’s experience with drugs and alcohol, how long it takes to get to the point that treatment is recommended is unique and thus will vary greatly from one person to the next.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), however, has identified a process they call the stages of change that can mark the path a person takes from first use of drugs and alcohol to full-blown addiction. Again, different people will spend different amounts of time in each stage, and depending upon the impact of their drug use on their health, their loved ones, and their ability to function, different types of treatment services may be valuable at any point along the way.

The stages of change include:

When people begin using drugs or alcohol, they often drink or use small amounts. Their use is tentative and occasional, and the repercussions are usually related to the process of recovering from the effects of the drug or alcohol the following day. For most people, use of alcohol and the occasional use of other substances may fall into this category. While their substance use may not necessarily help them in any way or enhance their lives, it doesn’t cause any severe damage or long-lasting harm unless an accident occurs under the influence. Treatment is not usually necessary during this stage; if the effects of drug or alcohol use become too overwhelming, the individual often does not find it difficult to stop drinking or getting high.

When experimentation becomes a regular occurrence, the risk of harm increases. Individuals who drink and get high and the people around them may be at risk due to their behaviors under the influence, and because it happens more frequently, there may also be a negative impact on individuals’ abilities to function productively at work, maintain health, or exist in healthy and functional personal relationships. Additionally, the details of their lives may change to accommodate ongoing use of drugs and alcohol (e.g., a less restrictive job, permissive friends, etc.). In some cases, certain interventions and treatment services may be effective during this stage.

When regular use becomes chronic (e.g., daily or multiple times per day), it frequently becomes the main priority in the person’s life. Individuals will often cease to value their relationships with others, their standing in the community, their reputation at work and among friends, and their health. They will often seek out use of drugs and alcohol above all else, sacrificing former interests, friendships, family relationships, financial stability, and health along the way. It is in this stage that individuals’ choices under the influence may become life-threatening and/or threatening to their freedom (e.g., criminal activities), and immediate cessation of use of all substances through treatment services may be the best option.

When individuals crave their drugs of choice and obsess over getting more of those drugs when they are not actively high or drunk, and they simultaneously struggle with physical withdrawal symptoms when they are without their drug of choice, they are living with addiction. Addiction is hugely intrusive in a person’s ability to function on any level. Individuals quickly find that without intensive treatment that includes detox and long-term therapeutic support, they are unable to stop using on their own, even if they want nothing more than to be free of the medical disorder that is addiction.

Help Organizing an Intervention

It is not always the case that a person struggling with addiction is ready to embrace the idea of change through intensive addiction treatment. In this case, concerned family members may decide that an intervention is the best course of action.

An addiction intervention is the preplanned, formal request to the person living with addiction to recognize that addiction is in fact the major underlying cause of the problems facing the family and that treatment is the only option. Here are some tips to aid in the organization of an intervention for a loved one living with addiction:

  • Include only 3-5 concerned friends and family members in order to avoid overwhelming your loved one.
  • Hold a planning meeting prior to the intervention in order to ensure that all understand their roles in the intervention.
  • All participants should plan out what they will say in advance and avoid being judgmental, angry, or overly emotional.
  • Focus on the fact that addiction is not the fault of the person living with the disorder but a medical ailment that will benefit from medical treatment and therapy.
  • Ask the person with addiction to not only agree to go to treatment but to also leave immediately for treatment that day.
  • Enroll the person living with addiction in a drug rehab program prior to holding the intervention.
  • Participants are encouraged to make it clear in a loving way that the family member living with addiction will continue to be loved but no longer enabled in addiction if the offer for rehab is rejected. The individual will be supported throughout recovery if the offer is accepted.
American Addiction Center

Entering a Detox Program to Manage Withdrawals

Detox is often a valuable and essential first step in recovery from drug and alcohol dependence. Because many people are physically addicted to their drugs of choice, when they stop taking all illicit substances, they often experience a range of withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the person’s specific circumstances, these withdrawal symptoms may range from mildly uncomfortable to severe and potentially life-threatening.

It may not always be possible to guess how a person’s body will respond to the sudden cessation of use of an addictive substance; thus, if there is any indication that physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms may be an issue, it is often advised that all people entering treatment choose a program that will provide medical care and monitoring.

getting help

Is an Inpatient Treatment Center or Outpatient Care the Right Choice?

Patients who are ready to seek medical and therapeutic care for substance abuse and addiction will find that they have a range of addiction treatment programs to choose from, each characterized by a different array of services, a different underlying goal and philosophy of care, and different expectations of the client. Most clients will begin their process of determining which program is best for their needs by deciding between inpatient and outpatient treatment. Though inpatient programs are often considered the gold standard in addiction treatment services due to the round-the-clock support and comprehensive nature of care in the first weeks of recovery, in some cases, outpatient treatment may be more appropriate.

Inpatient drug rehab often offers medical detox, 24-hour care and support including medical monitoring, a range of group therapies and traditional treatments as well as holistic and alternative options, family education and support, and aftercare support for the client.

Outpatient programs vary widely. Intensive outpatient addiction treatment programs often offer the same comprehensive care provided by inpatient drug rehab programs ” the only difference is that clients are responsible for providing their own room and board and commit to remain sober when they are not actively in treatment. At the other end of the spectrum are outpatient treatment services that may include a single weekly group therapy session or multiple types of therapies and treatments coordinated into a client’s treatment plan and managed by a therapeutic team.
Before choosing an outpatient or inpatient treatment program, clients will need to assess the following:

  • Their ability to stay sober without 24-hour monitoring
  • The possibility of medical complications that may require treatment at any time
  • The existence of co-occurring mental health symptoms that may require more intensive treatment and care
  • The availability of a safe and sober home to return to each night
  • The funds available to pay for treatment
  • Goals for their experience during treatment and beyond

Aftercare Is Essential to Long-Term Recovery

Treatment does not end when the client goes home after inpatient rehab or completes an outpatient program. In fact, aftercare services are often considered a cornerstone of recovery and play a critical role in the client’s ability to remain sober for the long-term after treatment. These services may include any combination of the following and can be chosen based on the client’s specific goals for life after treatment:

  • Support groups and 12-Step meetings
  • One-on-one therapy with a substance abuse treatment professional
  • Work with a life coach, peer recovery partner, or sober companion
  • Holistic treatment services, such as meditation, yoga, and others
  • Alternative therapies such as nutritional therapy, psychodrama, animal-assisted therapy, and others
aftercare and recovery

Stats and Facts

  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that, in 2013, an estimated 9.4 percent of Americans over the age of 12 had engaged in illicit drug use and 2.5 percent used prescription drugs nonmedically in the past month.
  • The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report released by SAMHSA in 2014 found that about 24.6 million Americans over the age of 12 were current users of illicit drugs in 2013 and that more than 60 million people over the age of 12 had indulged in a binge drinking session in the past month. An estimated 22.7 million of these individuals met the criteria for a substance abuse problem that required treatment, but only 2.5 million people enrolled in a treatment program to get help.
getting treatment
overdose and deaths
  • The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reports that, between 2008 and 2011, the results of their National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey determined that every year an average of 1.1 million trips to the emergency room were contributed to drug poisoning (e.g., overdose or medical emergency caused by use and abuse of drugs or alcohol). That survey also found that people between the ages of 20 and 34 were most commonly among those admitted for drug poisoning treatment. Admission rates did not differ according to age or gender, with the exception of the 35-49 age group, in which women were more frequently admitted for drug poisoning. Almost 25 percent of all drug poisoning ER visits ended with admission to the hospital.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that rates of overdose deaths caused by the use and abuse of all prescription drugs increased 2.5-fold between 2001 and 2013; that increase includes a threefold increase in overdose deaths caused by prescription painkillers and a fourfold increase in deaths caused by the use of prescription sedatives. Additionally, NIH reports that, during that same period, there was a 29 percent increase in ODs caused by abuse of cocaine and a fivefold increase in deaths caused by heroin overdose.
  • Relapse is not uncommon among people in recovery from addiction, and it does not signify that treatment ” or the client ” has “failed.”Rather, relapse rates among people in recovery from addiction are comparable to those experienced by people in recovery form other chronic disorders, including asthma, diabetes, and hypertension.
  • Addiction to drugs and alcohol does not just negatively impact the person dependent upon the substance but others in the community as well. Drugged driving is a particular problem; NIDA says that around 31 million people reported getting behind the wheel after getting high in 2012. People between the ages of 18 and 25 had the highest rates of drugged driving compared to other age groups, and the most common drug of abuse among drivers who drove after getting high was marijuana ” more common even than alcohol.
driving while high

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Addiction a Disease?

Yes, addiction is a disease. In fact, it is defined by NIH as a chronic disease comparable to cancer, diabetes, and other disorders that must be managed for a lifetime. Just as with other chronic diseases, those in recovery from addiction are encouraged to make lifestyle changes that will support a lifetime of progress in recovery, to work to prevent relapse/remission, and if relapse occurs, to acknowledge it immediately and, in response, to increase focus on recovery in order to get back on track.

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Is Addiction Hereditary?

Close family members (e.g., parents and siblings) who have struggled with drug or alcohol dependence may contribute to an increased risk that an individual might also develop a substance abuse or addiction disorder. However, coming from a family that has a history of addiction among one or even multiple family members does not guarantee that an individual will develop the problem, and zero family history of addiction does not guarantee that someone will not develop an addiction.It’s important to remember that there is a host of different factors that may contribute to the development of drug addiction. They may include any combination of the following:

  • Early age of first use
  • Regular use of any substance during adolescence
  • Physical and/or brain trauma
  • Co-occurring mental health disorder or mental health symptoms
  • Growing up and/or living in an environment or community that is permissive of drug use and abuse

Also, even in the absence of all these issues, stress and emotional issues that arise may contribute to the abuse and/or chronic use of drugs and alcohol, which can also lead to an addiction.

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What Is the Difference between Physical And Psychological Addiction?

Physical dependence upon a drug, or tolerance, can happen to anyone who takes any addictive drug regularly. This does not indicate an addiction but simply means that the person will require higher and higher doses in order to achieve the original effects ” whether the effect is meant to be therapeutic in nature or a high. In the event that the person would like to stop taking the substance, all that is required is a medically supervised “tapering”period, whereby the dose is slowly lowered until the person is no longer using it. As a result, the person experiences lessened withdrawal symptoms along the way.Dependence upon a substance is defined by both a physical dependence upon the drug of choice and a psychological dependence. Cravings for the drug of choice, obsession with getting and staying high, and compulsive use of the drug all characterize the psychological aspects of addiction.

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How Does Addiction Differ between Men and Women?

A number of studies support the fact that men and women are exceedingly different in every way when it comes to drug use, abuse, addiction, and treatment. According to NIDA, the following facts on gender differences and addiction are research-based:

  • Men are more likely than women to develop a substance abuse or addiction problem, but in recent years, the gap between the number of men and the number of women living with the disorder has been closing.
  • From first use, however, men and women are just as likely to progress to an addiction when the drugs of abuse are inhalants, hallucinogens, cocaine, or heroin. However, women may be more likely to develop a dependence upon or addiction to prescription drugs prescribed for insomnia or anxiety, and men may be more likely to become dependent upon marijuana and alcohol.
  • Animal studies suggest that women may be more sensitive to health problems caused by drug use and abuse. Women may also experience those health problems more quickly with similar drug and alcohol usage as compared to men.
  • When it comes to men and women who seek treatment, women are more likely to be functional addicts (e.g., employed high school graduates), to have co-occurring medical health problems, to have attempted addiction treatment in the past, to struggle with suicidal thoughts or behaviors, and to have been the victim of abuse.

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How Does Addiction Affect a Teen’s Developing Body and Mind?

The human brain continues to develop up until the person’s mid-20s, thus any use of addictive substances including alcohol can negatively impact a teen’s cognitive development, mental health, and physical growth. The specifics of how a drug impacts a teen’s brain and body will vary depending upon the drug of choice, the dosage, if the teen also uses other illicit substances, and/or if the teen is living with a co-occurring behavioral, mental health, or medical disorder that may impact how the drug functions.Often, the drug will either imitate naturally occurring chemicals in the brain or trigger a huge release of “feel-good”chemicals that create the “high”that an individual may experience when using a drug or drinking. When the behavior is repeated, the brain adjusts its function based on the expectation that a certain amount of the drug will continue to be ingested. This can result in a depletion or overload of certain chemicals in the brain that will negatively impact the ability to grow and function as compared to non-drug-using peers.

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What Are the Short- and Long-Term Concerns of Addiction?

Drug use in any amount can be dangerous to the user, especially if the individual is living with an underlying medical or mental health issue. In the short-term, some possible risks of drug use include:

  • Accident that may be life-altering or life-threatening
  • Acute medical emergency, including overdose
  • Psychotic episode, depending upon the drug of choice and/or underlying mental health conditions of the individual
  • Sudden death

With ongoing use of a substance of abuse, the above risks are still a daily concern and additional risks may include:

  • The development of chronic medical conditions related to drug use
  • Exacerbation of underlying medical disorders and/or mental health disorders
  • Difficulty maintaining a job and financial difficulty
  • Divorce and loss of child custody as well as other family relationships

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What Constitutes an Effective Treatment Program?

An effective treatment program will offer the client everything necessary to progress from active drug and alcohol use and addiction to a stable life in recovery. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all treatment program that will be appropriate for every client in every situation. In fact, the same client may require different interventions and treatment options at different points in life. It is important that the chosen treatment program offers a personalized treatment plan for each individual client that will include a range of treatment services to address the unique needs of that person.

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What Advice Can You Offer When Comparing Treatment Centers?

The most important factor to keep in mind when seeking out the most appropriate treatment center is that each client will require a range of treatment options to choose from and a voice in the development of the treatment plan. Clients are encouraged to:

  • Note whether or not there are evaluation and assessment services offered to aid in pinpointing all diagnoses
  • Ensure that any potential rehab is certified and staffed by experts in substance abuse treatment
  • Find out the specific services that each program has to offer
  • Call prospective treatment centers and ask questions and/or schedule a tour if possible

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What Is the Duration of the Recovery Process?

Like the treatment services necessary to help clients meet their goals, the duration of treatment will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Clients are encouraged to stay enrolled in treatment and actively working toward recovery until they:

  • Feel stable enough to avoid relapse in independent living
  • Have a safe and sober home to go to
  • Have a job that will support them
  • Have created a treatment plan that will provide them with the aftercare and support that will help them make the transition into sustained recovery

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How Much Do Drug Rehabs Cost?

The amount of the bill for any drug rehab experience will vary significantly from client to client depending upon:

  • The type of treatment chosen
  • The treatment center’s rates
  • Whether or not the client has health insurance coverage
  • How much and what services the insurance provider will cover

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Getting Treatment for a Teen: The Basics

drugs and mental illness symptoms

A dual diagnosis may be made in a host of different contexts. In some cases, one diagnosis will precede the other; in other cases, both conditions (and possibly more) may be diagnosed at the same time. However or whenever a dual diagnosis is made, the general consensus in both the addiction treatment field and the medical community is that effective treatment for each condition means treating both conditions at the same time.

There are numerous reasons for this advisement. For example, as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) explains, illicit drug use can exacerbate and escalate the symptoms of mental illness and vice versa (such as an increase in suicidal tendencies among individuals with depressive disorder who also abuse alcohol). In light of the recommendation for treatment, a concerned person may ask: What are the prevailing treatment approaches when a teenager simultaneously has a substance use disorder and another mental health disorder?

One option is to select a rehab program that accommodates a dual diagnosis. A second dimension to consider is the quality of the programming.

teen and addiction counselor

According to author and neuroscience journalist Maia Szalavitz writing for TIME, many parents who have sent their teenage children to rehab were in the dark about the quality of the services. As Szalavitz points out, parents will want to learn if rehab centers of interest provide research-based approaches to treatment of their clients. Many rehab programs will begin with a one-on-one assessment (approximately one hour) between a qualified addiction counselor and the teen.

At the conclusion of the assessment session, the addiction counselor will advise parents as to whether the rehab center can offer the needed treatment and make advisements about the type of programming on offer, such as inpatient or outpatient care. If the teenager is admitted, a team of addiction treatment professionals will typically work together to create a tailored plan. In the case of a dual diagnosis, the addiction treatment team will include a psychiatrist and provisions for the treatment of the other mental health disorder.

To help guide parents on how to pick a treatment program for teens, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has prepared a downloadable resource. The resource is not specifically tailored to the dual-diagnosis context, but it is informative about the process of selecting a drug rehab program for teens in general.
teen and recovery

Rehab programming that accommodates a dual diagnosis typically offers the traditional methods for treatment of each disorder, alongside one another. For example, a teenager who abuses heroin and has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder will typically be tracked to receive the medications and therapy associated with treatment for each disorder. Primary benefits of a rehab program that accommodates a dual diagnosis are that the treatment is centralized for convenience, and there is an open and transparent dialogue between addiction specialists and psychiatric care providers (note that psychiatrists working with drug rehab centers may also have addiction specializations).

The potential treatment complexity that a dual diagnosis presents can be frustrated by services that are not already integrated. As any American with two health conditions and separate medical providers knows, one medical office does not always seamlessly communicate with the other office. There is a minimized risk of providers having incomplete information when treatment for a client with a dual diagnosis is brought under one roof.

Treatment Options for Teens

A parent with a teenage child with a dual diagnosis will likely want to understand both the approaches taken to treat the child’s particular drug abuse issues as well as the methods used to treat the co-occurring mental health disorder. Regarding substance abuse treatment, as the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, there are two main pillars supporting the architecture of rehab programs: pharmacological interventions (i.e., targeted medications) and therapy.

medication and therapy


Targeted medications, sometimes referred to as medication-assisted treatment (MAT), are typically limited to the context of recovery from addiction to alcohol, benzodiazepines, or opiates/opioids. A benefit of targeted medications is that they can help to ensure safety in the withdrawal process in the short-term and be used as a long-term method to maintain abstinence. Parents of teens who require recovery for opiate/opioid abuse (this category includes heroin and prescription pain relievers) will be able to discuss the available medications with the treating rehab center. Depending on the specific needs of the teenager in recovery, medications include methadone, buprenorphine (the generic in the trademark drugs Suboxone and Subutex), and naltrexone. Use of these medications is not always advised in every case of recovery from opiate/opioid or alcohol abuse, and the best practice is to speak directly with a counselor on staff at the rehab center.



Therapy, the other mainstay of recovery treatment, is an umbrella term for the various psychological and/or behavioral approaches that may be employed. Therapy in rehab centers typically occurs in both one-on-one sessions and separate counselor-led group sessions. In some instances, research has been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of a specific one-on-one therapy approach vis-à-vis specific drugs of abuse or a specific age group, such as adolescents in recovery.

According to NIDA, there are at least four research-based therapy approaches that have been shown to be effective in the adolescent drug recovery context:

  • 12-Step Facilitation Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Contingency Management (CM)
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)
  • Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA)

All of these approaches complement one another and may be used in conjunction. Therapy is responsive to client needs. As client needs change over the course of treatment in a rehab program, different therapies may be applied during different phases. For instance, MET has been shown to be effective in the early stages of recovery to motivate clients to commit to recovery and remain in a program. Recovery centers will explain their policies as well as the local laws governing the rights of parents to keep their minor children in the recovery facility.

cbt and met

Based on the principles of Motivational Interviewing, MET can help adolescent clients to overcome their inner obstacles to engaging treatment services. After an initial assessment to identify the adolescent clients’ level of motivation, follow-up sessions involve the therapist explaining the need for treatment and working to bring the adolescent on board by soliciting self-motivational statements. MET is generally not a standalone treatment and is most often used in conjunction with another therapy approach, such as CBT.

As NIDA explains, CBT can be used either in an individual session or a therapist-led group session (in either inpatient or outpatient programs). CBT was not specifically developed for adolescents in recovery, but it has been adapted to use in this group. In session, therapists and adolescent clients explore both the positives (such as a feeling of supreme confidence) and the many negatives of drug abuse (such as its impact on health, social standing, and relationships).

A key component of CBT for adolescent clients is to help them identify the distorted thought patterns that encouraged them to abuse drugs in the first place.

As CBT is a largely pragmatic approach, the clients’ insights into their drug use triggers and patterns provide them with real-world guidance. Clients learn how to recognize the impulse to use drugs and transform it into a healthy decision, such as going for a walk or leaving a party where drugs are present. Skills taught include self-control tactics, anger management, emotional regulation, pragmatic problem-solving skills, and strategies to refuse drugs if they are offered.

12 step group and outpatient therapy

According to NIDA, the goal of 12-Step facilitation therapy is to introduce adolescent clients to group recovery meetings – such as Narcotics Anonymous or teen-specific groups, like Teen Addiction Anonymous – with the hope that they will engage these groups after the intensive phase of inpatient or outpatient rehab ends. According to research, the benefits of 12-Step programs extend to adolescents. Studies also show that 12-Step facilitation therapy in adolescents can help to improve attendance rates in outpatient therapy. There are philosophical and pragmatic tenets involved in 12-Step philosophy, but a main hallmark is that participants take responsibility for their substance abuse and recovery process while at the same time receiving support from others in recovery.

Treatment for BED

There are multiple avenues for determining whether someone has BED and a number of treatments that can help people gain control of their compulsive eating. They can be pursued whether or not a person is aware of a struggle with BED – as with many addictions, people who exhibit BED behaviors may not be aware they have a problem. However, the following topics can raise awareness in both clinical and personal settings, and offer options to help manage chronic bingeing.

Testing and Assessment

There has been much research into finding methods that accurately diagnose BED. There are no specific medical tests for the condition, but a combination of other assessments can help in diagnosing individuals who may be struggling with this disorder.

testing assessment
The first and most straightforward methods include interview screenings and self-assessments that can help identify the behaviors and attitudes associated with binge eating as a disorder rather than an occasional behavior. Tests such as the eating disorder examination interview (EDE) and related self-assessment questionnaire (EDE-Q) are considered to be helpful in identifying people who may be struggling with BED. However, they have some limitations, such as being long and cumbersome, and they are not always accurate in the information they convey. In particular, they were developed before BED was designated as a specific disorder, rather than a general eating disorder. The binge eating scale (BES), on the other hand, is a more specific self-assessment that has been shown to be accurate in discovering true cases of compulsive overeating.
Another type of testing that can help provide information about people who have BED rather than just an occasional binge eating event is hormonal. There are indications that various hormones connected to appetite, hunger, and stress have correlations in people with BED; these hormones include digestive hormones such as leptin and ghrelin, and stress hormones like cortisol. People with BED are also likely to have a larger stomach capacity in combination with hormone imbalances. Blood or saliva tests to measure hormonal factors can help to determine whether an eating disorder is present.
In addition, there is a correlation between people who have adrenal insufficiency and those who have issues with binge eating. When the adrenal glands don’t work properly, they don’t release enough cortisol – a hormone that helps provide energy during stress. If the body doesn’t have enough cortisol, the brain can’t get energy and signals the body to get more food. This can be part of the reason for binge eating events, as the person is stressed and continues to eat while the body is unable to process the food into sugars for the brain, leading to overeating.

Interestingly, sleep assessments can also help to screen for BED. Night eating patterns have been found to be correlated with testing on the binge eating scale (BES), and in particular a disorder called night eating syndrome is highly correlated with BED. Assessing night eating behaviors can help uncover symptoms of BED that may not otherwise be obvious.

These tests in combination can be extremely helpful in assessing suspected cases of BED while ruling out other eating disorders or non-disordered obesity.


A variety of treatments have been shown to have value in treating BED. Some medical treatments are available, and some medicines are being tested and used for treatment. Still, for the most part, psychological treatments of various kinds have had the most positive effect on the behavioral patterns of those struggling with BED.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help treat the psychological aspects of many compulsive behaviors, including compulsive eating. CBT is a method that helps individuals observe, recognize, and develop strategies in response to the situations that may cause them to binge eat.

Psychological treatments of various kinds have had the most positive effect on the behavioral patterns of those struggling with BED

treatment therapies bed
One type of CBT is particularly tuned to people who may have suffered some sort of trauma that contributes to the emotional aspects of their compulsive overeating. Trauma-focused CBT (TFCBT) has specifically been noted for helping people feel a qualitative reduction in their PTSD symptoms, which reduces some of the underlying symptoms that can contribute to chronic binge eating.

Another form of CBT that can help people become aware of the triggers of their undesirable behaviors, and then analyze and apply alternative responses that prevent them from repeating the undesired behaviors. This type of therapy can significantly reduce binge eating by the time treatment is over, but may need other supportive therapies to help maintain recovery in the long-term after treatment ends.

This support may find a form in Motivational Interviewing (MI), which is a post-therapy method that provides occasional interventions after treatment is over to remind individuals of their work in an attempt to help them maintain motivation.

Interpersonal Therapy
In addition, using interpersonal therapy (IPT) can help people build the support structures that can help them maintain their recovery and avoid binge eating. This therapy helps people improve their social connections and their self-esteem, which can in turn reduce the frequency of binge eating by removing some of the emotional triggers that can result in a binge event. IPT has long-term outcomes that are comparable to those of CBT, making it a preferred treatment modality for BED.

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