Exploring Drug and Alcohol Recovery Options
Drug addiction should be taken seriously. Seeking appropriate and timely treatment can reduce the risk of life, health, relationship, and financial complications associated with substance abuse.
In this article, you will find information about drug rehab programs and how to find the right one for you. Topics include:
- Why people may resist entering rehab.
- What types of addiction treatment programs are available.
- Who will benefit the most from drug rehab.
- Factors to consider when finding the best treatment center.
- Frequently asked questions about addiction recovery programs.
What Is Rehab?
A drug or alcohol rehab is a treatment program that specializes in helping people with addiction problems. These programs aim to help people identify their triggers for using and then develop new, healthy coping skills to maintain long-term sobriety.
- Rehabs can be helpful for a variety of abused substances, including alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin as well as prescription drugs.
- Drug rehabs may be inpatient or outpatient, and short-term or long-term.
- Individual rehabs will offer different combinations of group therapy, individual therapy, family therapy, medication management and support groups.
- Treatment programs are effective at helping people decrease their substance use.2
Reasons People May Avoid a Drug & Alcohol Treatment Program
Attending rehab can improve your social life, finances, mental health and confidence.
Like many other problems, drug abuse is often met with denial – by both the person with the addiction and, often, by close friends and family members. The individual may believe the issue is under control; friends and family may want to believe things are not as bad as they actually are.
Even those who recognize that they could use help might avoid substance abuse rehabilitation for reasons including:
- Perceived social stigmas associated with being in rehab.
- The belief that issues can be overcome by strength of will alone, and without professional help.
- Fear of sharing with others or being vulnerable.
- Financial trouble that makes it hard to pay for treatment.
- Fear of an employer finding out or getting fired.
The truth is, attending a drug recovery treatment facility can provide positive benefits to your social life, finances, mental health and confidence.
According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 21.7 million people aged 12 or older needed treatment for substance abuse, or about 1 in 12 people (8.1%). However, only 14% of people aged 12 or older (or about 3 million people) who needed substance use treatment received it. 8
Don’t let fear of a treatment program stop you from getting drug addiction recovery information and seeking help. Treatment programs are often very different from how they are portrayed on television and in movies.
What are the Types of Treatment Programs Available?
No formula exists for providers or people with substance abuse problems to determine who should attend what type of drug treatment program. The type of rehab program you choose will depend on:
- The level of treatment you need.
- The cost of the program and how much you can pay.
- The type of program you’re comfortable with.
Types of treatments that might be available in your area are outlined below.
- Residential program: These programs involve living in the treatment facility and attending groups and individual counseling. Long-term or extended programs usually last 90 days or more, and shorter programs begin at 28 or 30 days.
- Outpatient rehab programs: You live at home while receiving addiction treatment. Outpatient programs offer a number of different options, often treating individuals for several hours a day over the course of a few weeks.
- Group support or therapy: These groups can meet daily, weekly or at other intervals. Accredited facilities, volunteer organizations, churches and community centers offer this type of recovery program. Group meetings foster a supportive and encouraging environment for recovering addicts to share their experiences. Group therapy approaches are employed both in outpatient and inpatient settings.
- Individual therapy: You will meet with a board-certified substance abuse counselor, who will help you change maladaptive thoughts and behavior patterns while teaching you to use healthy coping skills in stressful situations.
- Medical intervention: A number of substances – including alcohol and sedatives – have uncomfortable and sometimes life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Many inpatient treatment centers offer medically supervised detoxification, in which your vital signs are monitored and your withdrawal symptoms managed while your body clears itself of the toxic influence of the substance.
Who Should Consider a Drug Rehab Program?
A common myth is that an addicted person has to “hit rock bottom” before seeking substance abuse rehabilitation. However, the truth is that even people with mild addictions can benefit from a drug rehab program. The idea that you have to hit bottom is simply not true; in fact, early intervention can be lifesaving, and “rock bottom” can continue to change as addiction progresses and wreaks more and more havoc on your life.
Trying drugs just once does not necessarily indicate an addiction. On the other hand, being unable to say no to substances, taking extreme actions to obtain drugs and using them with increasing frequency may indicate a need for treatment for drug and alcohol recovery.
Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders states that those suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction experience profound impairment in their lives and have a troubling pattern of abuse. 1
If you are concerned about your own drug use or that of a friend or loved one, below are some common signs and symptoms of a substance abuse disorder to be aware of. If you or a loved one has 2 or more of these signs or symptoms, you should consider looking into substance abuse treatment centers. 1
- Consuming more than intended or taking the drug for a longer period of time than intended.
- Failed attempts to cut back or quit substance use.
- Placing a great emphasis on finding the drug, using the drug and recovering from its negative effects.
- Intense cravings for the abused substance.
- Inability to fulfill responsibilities at school, work or home.
- Ongoing substance use despite negative social or interpersonal consequences.
- Abandoning hobbies and recreational activities for drug use.
- Persistent substance use in dangerous and harmful situations (e.g., driving a car).
- Awareness of a physical or a mental condition brought on or worsened by drug use, yet choosing to use the drug anyway.
- Tolerance: requiring more of the substance to feel the same effect and experiencing less of the desirable effects when taking the same amount.
- Withdrawal: experiencing withdrawal symptoms characteristic of that particular drug and taking the drug to avoid or alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
Important Information for an Effective Treatment Stay
Research over the past 40 years has consistently identified key information that has helped build effective treatment programs. Successful treatment programs provide for all aspects of a person’s life, as opposed to just a specific addiction. Learning new skills and sharing emotional troubles may help with recovery.
The following are things you should look for in a treatment center when considering a drug rehab program that’s right for you:
- Certified mental health professionals and addiction counselors. Look for licensed counselors and staff who are certified in addiction treatment.
- Experience treating your substance addiction and needs. Some programs may focus on particular types of drug or alcohol abuse.
- Dual diagnosis experience. Drug addiction is often closely related to mental illness. A rehab program that can deal with a dual diagnosis is essential in these cases. Without proper treatment of both disorders, your chance of relapse increases.
- Proper intake. A therapist will meet with you and evaluate the severity of your addiction as well as assess for any other mental health disorders. This is an important step to take before beginning treatment so that the therapist can devise an individualized treatment plan to cater to your needs and situation.
- Adjusting treatment when necessary. Treatment plans can adapt; they should be re-evaluated and altered on an ongoing basis to maximize the level of care provided. In most cases, the individual struggling with addiction should have the opportunity to offer feedback as treatment progresses.
- Evidence-based therapy. Evidence-based therapies are backed by research and may be more likely to be effective.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: CBT explores the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and aims to correct negative thoughts to more positive ones. It also aims to modify unhealthy responses to stressors.
- Contingency management: This is an incentive-based therapy. You are rewarded for positive and abstinent behaviors.
When you are looking for a drug recovery treatment center, keep the above information in mind. You may also want to seek referral for or request information about outpatient and residential rehabilitation programs from a counselor, social worker, psychiatrist or other medical professional.
Aftercare Is Essential to Success
One thing that causes people to relapse after completing a recovery program is noncompliance with aftercare or follow-up care. Some people believe that drug addiction can be treated similarly to a traumatic injury such as a broken arm – the arm is set and it heals, the cast is removed, physical therapy is scheduled and life eventually returns to normal.
In most cases, drug addiction cannot be adequately managed this way. Someone struggling with an addiction can appear to heal, only to relapse months or years later because of the chronic nature of the problem. Because of this, following aftercare recommendations is absolutely necessary.
Aftercare is any form of continuous treatment that occurs after initial treatment is completed. It’s very important for relapse prevention, as many addicts are at a risk for relapse once being released from a treatment center.
Below are some aftercare options available once you complete your initial drug rehab treatment:
- 12-step programs: These fellowships follow 12 steps of recovery and provide a supportive environment for addicts to share their experiences.
- Individual therapy: The therapist continues to build on coping skills you learned during your initial treatment and uses various techniques to change your negative and harmful behaviors.
- Group counseling: The group counselor will work with you and others in the group on relapse prevention and communication practices, and skills useful for repairing broken or damaged relationships.
Frequently Asked Questions About Drug and Alcohol Rehab
What Is the Difference Between Drug Abuse Rehabilitation and Addiction Recovery?
Drug abuse rehabilitation involves entering some form of treatment and learning how to stop using drugs. It can take place in several different environments, including inpatient and outpatient centers, and usually lasts anywhere from a few weeks to a year. Most forms of treatment involve therapy and medications. People are educated about addiction, taught relapse prevention techniques, and receive treatment for any medical or mental health disorders.
Addiction recovery is a long-term or even lifelong process of rebuilding your life after substance abuse and maintaining sobriety. It includes rehabilitation but also the period after rehab when a former user returns to everyday life and takes steps to stay off drugs. Many people refer to themselves as being in recovery years or even decades after they leave treatment.
How Do I Know If I Need Rehab?
According to addiction professionals, you may have a substance use disorder and need treatment if you experience at least two of the following symptoms: 3
- You use more drugs or alcohol than you would like to.
- You have tried to cut down before but were unsuccessful.
- You spend a lot of time either acquiring drugs or alcohol, or recovering from them (e.g., missing work to nurse a bad hangover).
- Your drug or alcohol use has impacted your work, school or social responsibilities.
- You experience cravings.
- You’ve been told that you have health problems because of your drug or alcohol use, but you continue to use or drink.
- You continue to use even though other people have expressed concern, or your relationships with others have been strained.
- You use or drink in dangerous situations, such as while driving.
- You’ve given up important activities or hobbies in favor of drug or alcohol use.
- You need larger amounts to feel an effect.
- You experience withdrawal symptoms upon stopping.
How Do I Find a Drug Rehab Near Me?
To find a substance abuse rehabilitation program, you can search Recovery.org’s home page for rehab centers by state or enter your zip code into the box in the center of the page.
When you search, you will get a list of drug recovery centers that includes information about the treatment center and may include reviews and ratings.
How Much Does Treatment Cost?
The cost of rehab varies from program to program.
- Inpatient recovery programs can range from $2,000 to $30,000 for 30 days.
- Outpatient recovery programs range from free to $10,000.
- Private, luxury and executive rehabs tend to be more costly.
- Inpatient programs are generally more expensive than outpatient programs.
- Programs that are free or low-cost are usually government-funded or nonprofit organizations, and require that you demonstrate significant financial need.
- The cost of rehab can be reduced by using health insurance to cover some or all of the costs.
How Do I Find Rehab Without Insurance?
If you don’t have insurance, you can contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s toll-free helpline to get referrals to programs in your area that help people with addiction who don’t have insurance.
How Do I Pay for a Treatment Program Without Insurance?
You have several ways to pay for rehab without insurance.
- Payment plan. Start by asking the treatment center if they offer a payment plan, which allows you to pay for your treatment a little bit at a time.
- Borrow from a savings account or 401(k). Consider borrowing money from a personal savings or retirement account.
- Ask friends and family for help. You can borrow from family or friends.
- Use a health care credit card. Health care credit cards allow you to finance health care costs at lower interest rates and make monthly payments.
Does Rehab Actually Work?
Rehab helps people decrease their drug and alcohol use.
Researchers have been studying the effectiveness of addiction treatment for decades. They’ve concluded that rehab does help people decrease their drug and alcohol use and live healthier, more productive lives.
In an analysis of 78 studies on addiction treatment, researchers found that treatment significantly reduced people’s drug use and crime. 2 Rehab is also more likely to be successful if there is a good aftercare plan in place. 4
During the 1990s, the government funded a large study that looked at how different outpatient treatment programs compared to one another. 5 They were hoping to find out which type of treatment was best. However, they found that all of the programs they studied helped. They concluded that making the decision to go to treatment is more important than the type of treatment that you choose.
Rehabs for adolescents have also been found to be effective, especially when they also offer family therapy. 6, 7
In 2018, American Addiction Centers released the results of a study that tracked 4,000 patients at their facilities from intake to discharge and then at 2,6, and 12 months. They found that 63% of patients were still abstinent at 12 months, compared to the national benchmark of 30%. They also found that at one year, days of alcohol use decreased by 80%, total days of significant family conflict decreased by 87%, and days with mental health problems decreased by 56%.9
What Is the Process Like?
- Making the choice to get help. The rehab process begins when you first make the difficult decision to get help and change your life.
- Finding an addiction recovery facility. The next step is finding a rehab that meets your needs. You can narrow down your choices by considering the type of program, location, and your budget. When you first reach out to a rehab, you will speak with the intake department. This is an opportunity to ask any questions that you might have.
- Completing an intake evaluation. On your first day of rehab, you will complete a comprehensive intake with the staff, who will gather information about your substance use and health history. They may also complete a medical and psychological evaluation.
- Going to therapy. After the intake, you will begin group, individual and/or family therapy. This can be the most challenging part of the rehab process. You begin to work through difficult emotions. It can be helpful to rely on the support of the staff and other people in recovery during this time.
- Planning for life after rehab. The final step in the rehab process is aftercare planning. You must decide how you will ease the transition back into the real world. See the aftercare section on this page for more information.
What Are the Rules at a Typical Rehab?
The rules of each rehab are different. Some rehabs are more restrictive with a lot of rules, while others give clients more independence and autonomy.
Rules are put in place to keep the environment safe, drug-free and focused on recovery. Often, rehabs will make the rules stricter for new clients, and gradually grant more freedom as you show commitment to your recovery.
- No drugs, alcohol or paraphernalia.
- No cell-phones, laptops or other electronic devices.
- Residents must remain on the premises, unless granted a special pass.
- No visitors without permission.
- No drug-related or inappropriate clothing or items.
- Mandatory drug testing.
- No fraternizing with other clients.
- Must attend all therapy sessions and meetings.
. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. (5th ed.). (2013). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
. Prendergast, M. L., Podus, D., Chang, E., & Urada, D. (2002). The effectiveness of drug abuse treatment: A meta-analysis of comparison group studies. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 67(1), 53-72.
. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ). Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association.
. Ritsher, J. B., Moos, R. H., & Finney, J. W. (2002). Relationship of treatment orientation and continuing care to remission among substance abuse patients. Psychiatric Services, 53(5), 595-601.
. Kadden, R., Carbonari, J., Litt, M., Tonigan, S., & Zweben, A. (1998). Matching alcoholism treatments to client heterogeneity: Project MATCH three-year drinking outcomes. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 22(6), 1300-1311.
. Deas, D., & Thomas, S. E. (2001). An overview of controlled studies of adolescent substance abuse treatment. The American Journal on Addictions, 10(2), 178-189.
. Williams, R. J., & Chang, S. Y. (2000). A comprehensive and comparative review of adolescent substance abuse treatment outcome. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 7(2), 138-166.
. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
. American Addiction Centers. (2018). American Addiction Centers Outcomes Study.
You are never too old to improve your health and quality of life!