Addiction has been a prominent health issue in the United States over the last several decades. In fact, more than 23.5 million Americans aged 12 and over are addicted to drugs or alcohol today. These numbers have only continued to rise with the progression of the nationwide opioid epidemic. To combat this, addiction treatment professionals and advocates have established almost 15,000 addiction treatment facilities across the country. However, not all these facilities offer all five levels of addiction treatment.
The Levels of Care in Addiction Treatment
Even with 15,000 facilities to choose from, only a fraction of addicted individuals ever receives the care that they so desperately need. In fact, only about 11.2%, or 2.6 million people, ever even try to seek treatment. This discrepancy demonstrates an apparent confusion surrounding the different levels of care for addiction treatment.
In total, there are five distinct levels of addiction care that can help patients through the treatment and recovery process. These levels consist of medical detox, inpatient or residential treatment, partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), and aftercare. These five levels of addiction care follow a linear progression for an extensive treatment experience to meet all your individual needs. However, you do not have to complete all five levels of treatment to get sober.
Which Level of Addiction Treatment is Right for Me?
The best level or levels of care for you depend entirely on your situation and specific needs. Typically, the type and severity of your addiction will determine which standard of care is the most appropriate for you. For example, if you have relapsed more than once, you may benefit from medical detox and inpatient treatment.
When it comes to choosing your treatment facility, it’s best to find one that offers all five levels of care. Fortunately, more and more of them are expanding their addiction treatment options to include all five levels. So, once you find a suitable rehab facility, you can sit down with the intake and treatment staff to discuss which levels of care would be best-suited to your customized treatment plan.
Detoxification, or detox, is always the first step of the recovery process. Medical detox usually takes place on an inpatient basis. This is because the detox process requires around-the-clock care from a team of medical personnel and counselors. Still, undergoing medical detox on an outpatient basis is also possible. Either way, your recovery will be heavily supervised by treatment personnel.
When you quit an addictive substance, you’ll begin to experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are your body’s natural response to purging the toxins that were left behind by your past substance use. Most withdrawal symptoms last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Depending on your addiction, your withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to potentially life-threatening.
These and many other symptoms can be easily managed in medical detox. This is why addiction treatment professionals and physicians agree that this level of care is always necessary for addiction treatment. While it is true that the intensity of withdrawal symptoms varies depending on the person and the addiction, many people who enter addiction treatment opt to undergo medical detox because it has benefits that self-detoxing at home does not. These benefits include:
- a safe, sober environment away from triggers
- availability of prescription medications for tapering
- constant medical supervision and withdrawal symptoms management
Inpatient or Residential Treatment
Inpatient treatment, which is also called residential treatment, is a level of addiction care that is very closely tied to medically-assisted detox. In fact, most inpatient rehab facilities implement medical detox as the first stage of the treatment process. In an inpatient treatment program that includes medical detox as part of its plan, you would first complete medical detox before making the transition to the next level of care. However, if you undergo medical detox at a stand-alone facility, you should continue treatment on an inpatient basis going forward.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), inpatient or residential addiction treatment programs are one of the most highly effective means of helping patients in recovery get and stay sober. This due in large part to the wide variety of benefits that inpatient addiction treatment usually has.
So, after addressing the physical side of your addiction through medical detox, you’ll be able to focus on the psychological and emotional side of it through these and many other options. Even better, you’ll have immediate access to the professionals and counselors helping you since you’ll be living at the facility during your treatment.
Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)
If you decided to follow the linear progression of addiction treatment, the next level of care on the list would be partial hospitalization. Partial hospitalization programs, or PHPs, have a similar structure to inpatient treatment. In fact, partial hospitalization programs are one of the best addiction treatment options if you also struggle with conditions like depression and anxiety. Cases like this are called dual diagnosis, and it’s incredibly common in substance addiction. Just like in inpatient treatment, dual diagnosis can be treated effectively with partial hospitalization.
When transitioning from inpatient treatment to partial hospitalization, you’d still live at the rehab facility and receive many of the same services. However, what makes this level of care different from others is that it allows more freedom between treatment sessions. In a partial hospitalization program, you’ll be able to leave the facility to keep up with any obligations you may have outside of treatment. This level of addiction care is the best option for those who want the intensiveness of inpatient rehab without giving up things like work or school.
Additionally, partial hospitalization continues the track that inpatient treatment started— addressing the non-physical factors of addiction. The therapeutic modalities offered through partial hospitalization typically include:
- Laser therapy
- Massage therapy
- Chiropractic therapy
These and other partial hospitalization modalities are especially beneficial for patients who turned to substance abuse to self-medicate a pre-existing health condition like chronic pain. If you are one of them, then partial hospitalization can give you the peace of mind you need as you work with the staff towards stabilization and eventual sobriety. Including partial hospitalization in your recovery plan is the best way to constructively bridge the gap between inpatient treatment and outpatient addiction care.
Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
When most people hear the word “rehab,” they tend to picture the inpatient treatment options that have already been covered so far. However, not all forms of addiction treatment take place on an inpatient basis. In fact, outpatient programs have a rather significant role in the overall recovery process. One study published in Psychiatric Services, a peer-reviewed medical journal with new issues released monthly, asserts that intensive outpatient addiction treatment programs are just as effective as their inpatient counterparts— sometimes even more so.
Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are very similar to partial hospitalization, but they are less strict. It’s not unusual for these two levels of care to get confused since they are both outpatient programs. However, IOPs tend to have more schedule flexibility for patients than other levels of care.
Most addiction treatment facilities that offer intensive outpatient programs will allow you to continue your addiction treatment about three hours per day for three to five days every week. Usually, IOPs take place during the evenings, so they are a great option if you go to school or work full-time during the day. Some of the more popular addiction treatment therapies that are offered through intensive outpatient programs include:
- Holistic therapy
- 12-Step program
- Relapse prevention
- Anger management
- Life skills counseling
- Nutrition counseling
- Faith-based programs
- Mindfulness coaching
- Individual or group therapy
Many patients who transition through the levels of care during addiction treatment enter an intensive outpatient program after undergoing inpatient treatment. In fact, the rehab facilities that offer all five levels of care will allow you to continue any medically-assisted treatment or therapy from previous programs, including the ones listed above.
Aftercare or Continued Counseling
The first four levels of care for addiction treatment are all equally essential parts of the recovery process. Whether you choose to enroll in all of them or just some of them is up to you and your recovery team. However, the fifth and final level of care in addiction treatment is one that comes highly recommended no matter which programs proceed it: aftercare.
Aftercare, or continued counseling, is the final supplemental treatment program that everyone in addiction recovery should consider enrolling in. Aftercare is precisely what it sounds like; care that comes last. It begins after you’ve completed your inpatient and outpatient programs. The reason that aftercare is such a necessary part of the addiction recovery process is that it keeps you on the straight and narrow path that you’ve worked so hard for until this point.
Why Enroll in Aftercare?
The previous levels of addiction care help you rebuild your physical, mental, and emotional health. Still, these positive changes won’t last without extra reinforcement from your treatment team and peers in recovery. Aftercare will help you stay committed to staving off the destructive thoughts and behaviors that drove you to abuse drugs or alcohol in the first place. This will help you stay sober once you’ve completed the first four levels of care. Most people who return to their daily routine after the first four levels of care without committing to aftercare tend to relapse after a few weeks or so.
Overall, addiction treatment and recovery should be an ongoing, seamless process. Aftercare is a significant part of maintaining the constancy of recovery and sobriety. In a sense, this level of care is what bridges the gap between treatment and reintegration into everyday life. Most aftercare programs include:
- Support groups
- 12-step meetings
- Recreational activities
- Specialized workshops
- Faith-based counseling
- One-on-one counseling
- Holistic healing treatment
One of the best benefits of aftercare is that you have the option to continue it for as long as you need. Many people in recovery continue to participate in alumni or volunteer activities for years, even after they get sober. Any of the programs listed above is a great way to keep yourself sober and advocate sobriety for others.
The Five Levels of Addiction Recovery Care at TTC
There are millions of people who struggle with addiction in America today, and all of them have different needs. So, the best rehab facilities are the ones that offer all five levels of care for addiction treatment and recovery. At The Treatment Center, we provide all of these programs and levels of care for addiction treatment. All five levels of care are part of our customizable recovery plans for our patients. For more information, please call us at (866) 295-6003. All calls with one of our admissions counselors are kept confidential.