Addiction to drugs or alcohol is a chronic disease, characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and loss of control over drug or alcohol use, despite consequences. The effects of drug or alcohol abuse can cause brain changes, some of which may last long-term, behavioral changes, and changes in emotional or mental health.

With proper treatment, some or all of these changes may be reversed or become manageable. Addiction treatment helps recovering individuals restore physical health, manage mental health, work through challenging emotions and build the skills and confidence necessary to maintain a fulfilling, sober life.


Determining the right treatment path for each individual may take some time, but this process is necessary. Before treatment in an addiction rehab center begins, individuals typically undergo a clinical assessment to determine their unique treatment needs. Length of treatment, type of treatment program needed, and treatment approach are all treatment components which may be affected by the assessment.

There are many different types of addiction treatments, and which treatment is right for each individual depends on a number of factors. Some of these may include the duration of addiction, substance of abuse, how much of a substance a person used each day, and how often a person used that substance.

Inpatient Vs. Outpatient Drug Rehab Treatment

Perhaps the first decision to make when entering a drug or alcohol rehab program is whether to choose inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment. Each type of treatment comes with its own set of benefits, and the extent to which an individual can reap these benefits depends on individual treatment factors.

A person who has struggled with long-term substance abuse or addiction will most likely benefit most from an inpatient drug rehab program. Inpatient treatment, also called residential treatment, allows individuals to recover from addiction under the care and supervision of addiction treatment professionals: clinicians, therapists, and drug rehab personnel.

In an inpatient environment, patients are surrounded by supportive, caring professionals who are experienced in helping addicted individuals reach their recovery goals.

Inpatient drug rehab programs also allow individuals to focus solely on recovery, a luxury not typically afforded by an outpatient program. Seeking drug or alcohol treatment in a residential setting removes an individual from any harmful triggers which may contribute to addiction.

Many inpatient rehab centers are also privately owned and operated, which means they not only provide the best in professional care but also provide access to the most cutting-edge, evidence-based treatment methods available.

Outpatient addiction treatment programs are best-suited for people who have not struggled with long-term abuse, or as a step-down method following an inpatient program. Seeking continued participation in addiction recovery efforts is important for a successful recovery. Outpatient programs offer individuals a way to keep on track with important treatment principles.

Some people may be unable to attend an inpatient addiction treatment program due to any number of personal obligations, and for these people, outpatient programs may be the only way to seek addiction recovery. Any involvement in recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol is better than none at all.

However, individuals seeking addiction treatment should explore all options, as many drug and alcohol rehab centers provide an array of programs to support the differing needs of program participants.

Short-Term Vs. Long-Term Drug Rehab Programs

After selecting an inpatient treatment center, determining the length of treatment is often the next step. There are two main types of addiction treatment programs: short-term and long-term.

Short-term programs are typically 28 to 30 days but may be as long as 60 or 90 days. Individuals entering addiction treatment for the first time may first enter a short-term program.

Long-term programs are more beneficial for people who have been abusing drugs or alcohol for a long period of time. The length of a long-term program depends on the treatment needs of an individual, and may be anywhere from 120 days to six months, a year, or longer if needed.

Inpatient rehab centers usually conduct a clinical assessment to determine the treatment program length appropriate for each individual. These assessments allow treatment professionals not only to determine how long the individual will remain in treatment but also the specific treatment methods which will most benefit the individual.

Gender-Specific Alcohol and Drug Rehab Programs

Gender-specific addiction treatment programs allow individuals to find addiction treatment in a safe, welcoming environment which allows them to focus solely on healing. Men and women have different needs in treatment, and the needs of teens will be different from those of adults, and so on.

Many inpatient drug and alcohol rehab centers provide women-only and men-only treatment programs. Women’s programs may focus first on working through any past trauma, emotional or physical abuse, and mental health issues which contribute to drug abuse or addiction. Women face unique challenges in substance abuse treatment, as many women coming to treatment may struggle with factors which contributed to their addiction, yet which are out of their control, such as trauma.

Men’s programs allow men to heal by providing them an environment in which to be open, honest, and receptive to therapy—luxuries they may not find elsewhere. The first step in any addiction program may be admitting there is a problem, and admitting to mistakes is something men may find difficult due to societal pressure. Inpatient men-only programs allow men to heal from the scars of addiction, far-removed from any triggers.

Some drug rehab centers also provide specific programs for teens or make treatment accessible and viable for pregnant women. Teens’ developing brains are greatly affected by addiction. The psychological effects resulting from drug abuse may require specific, evidence-based methods found only at inpatient treatment centers.

Pregnant women who struggle with addiction are in need of some of the most urgent and steadfast care, and many inpatient drug rehab centers can provide such care. Women who are pregnant and in treatment for addiction will need adequate care for both mother and fetus, so finding a program customized to individual need is important.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programs

People who have both a substance use disorder (addiction, dependence) and a mental health disorder have what is called a dual diagnosis, comorbidity, or co-occurring disorder. Proper treatment for both disorders in a dual diagnosis is extremely important, as treating one disorder and leaving the other untreated can affect recovery success.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness explains that, in 2014, 7.9 million people in the U.S. struggled with both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder. While all of these people may need treatment, few receive the help they need.


The best dual diagnosis treatment programs provide first a clinical assessment to identify any and all co-occurring disorders. Then, treatment professionals will design a customized treatment plan for each individual, determined according to treatment needs.

A person struggling with anxiety and alcohol addiction will have a different treatment plan than a person struggling with depression and cocaine abuse. Behavioral treatments, counseling, medication, and group therapy are just a few methods which may be utilized in dual diagnosis programs.

Spiritual And 12-Step Drug Rehab Programs

Most traditional treatment programs in use today were founded on principles first established by the 12-step program. Alcoholics Anonymous, a therapeutic, addiction-support group, was the first organization to implement the 12-step approach.

The 12-step program has been adopted by a variety of other support groups and addiction treatment centers. No matter the treatment program, 12-step methods tend to follow along with the same basic principles: guidance in treatment, belief in and forgiveness of self and others, and releasing control to a higher power, while abstaining from drugs or alcohol. In these programs, each step builds on the last, allowing individuals to move through recovery goals at their pace.

Spirituality may play a vital role in addiction treatment for many individuals, even if they did not have a sense of spirituality prior to treatment. For people who need stability on which to base their recovery, 12-step programs may become their foundation.

Non-12-Step Drug And Alcohol Rehab Programs

Some people may prefer a more evidence-based approach to addiction recovery, or to exclude the element of spirituality, and non-12-step programs exist for these people. Twelve-step programs were the first to provide a structure within addiction treatment. Addicted individuals require stability in treatment for recovery success and to avoid relapse. Now, non-12-step programs also provide structure along with an array of treatment methods.

Addiction treatment centers may integrate several methods to build a custom plan unique to the individual. In this way, the recovering individual may focus on his or her differing needs in treatment while building the skills necessary to remain drug-free long-term.

Individuals in non-12-step programs may participate in behavioral therapy, counseling, dual diagnosis treatment (if needed) medication therapy, and more.

Holistic And Alternative Addiction Therapies

More and more drug and alcohol rehab centers are offering alternative forms of addiction treatment methods. Each person comes into addiction recovery with his or her own specific needs, and some people may respond better to an alternative treatment program.

Alternative addiction treatment programs focus highly on the social aspect of recovery. That is, these programs provide peer support and interaction, and help individuals build the skills, self-awareness, and self-confidence needed to rebuild their lives. Alternative treatment methods include adventure and wilderness therapies, equine therapy, holistic therapy, and more.

Holistic therapy focuses on healing each individual as a whole: body, mind, and spirit. Addiction affects all aspects of health, and holistic therapy helps individuals simultaneously restore their overall health. Treatment methods offered will differ according to the treatment center, but some may include acupuncture, herbal supplements, and yoga.

Pain and Stress Management in Rehab

Some individuals may find recovery extremely difficult due to distracting pain and stress. Treatment methods within inpatient rehab programs may help individuals manage their pain and stress, allowing them to devote their energy to addiction recovery.

Medications may help recovering individuals manage pain from withdrawal symptoms, physical effects caused by drug or alcohol abuse, or ease mental health issues. Many rehab centers also offer stress management techniques and recreational activities, as well as a low-stress, luxury environment.

To learn more about inpatient addiction treatment methods, contact us today.


National Alliance on Mental Illness—Dual Diagnosis

National Institute on Drug Abuse—Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction