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How Do I Pick the Right Treatment for Me?

When considering the right type of addiction rehab, an early task should be to determine if inpatient or outpatient treatment is the best choice. Learning as much as you can about these kinds of addiction treatment centers can help make the decision to enter and the transition into rehab easier. Inpatient or residential addiction treatment facilities provide immersive substance abuse treatment while patients live on-site 24 hours a day, allowing them to focus solely on their recovery during that time. Inpatient treatment can be highly effective, with some studies pointing to better recovery outcomes for those spending at least 90 days in treatment. Outpatient treatment options exist for those who prefer to live at home while attending counseling and participating in other forms of substance abuse treatment for several days a week at the rehab facility.

Inpatient Addiction Treatment

rehabs-shutter149934155-rehab-counselingThe first phase of inpatient rehab often includes a period of detoxification (detox). During detox, the patient is slowly weaned off of the substance of abuse, which in many cases may result in the user experiencing withdrawal symptoms. For certain types of abused substances, these withdrawal symptoms can be very severe or even life-threatening. For this reason, detox under medical supervision in a professional facility provides the most safe and comfortable setting in which to begin recovery. Though there are commonalities, unlike those requiring a detox period at the start of substance abuse recovery, those suffering from behavioral addictions, such as an addiction to gambling or sex, generally forego a formal detox period.

Treating the psychological addiction to drugs, alcohol, or behaviors is traditionally the second step of the inpatient rehab process. In many cases, this phase of recovery involves a combination of medical, psychological, and peer support. Most inpatient treatment programs tailor treatment to the needs of individual patients, adjusting treatment according to what the patient needs at a particular point in their recovery. Individual counseling sessions, group therapy, life skills courses, and complementary activities are generally included to help patients regain the skills needed to function in society, at home, and at work.

Several types of residential treatment programs are available. Many traditional treatment centers utilize a number of evidence-based treatment modalities, including group and individual counseling, and often provide additional psychiatric care if needed.

Holistic programs approach treatment from a whole-body perspective, incorporating various natural therapies to promote sobriety, overall health, and contentment. Gender-specific rehab programs offer care for women or men only, allowing individuals to focus on their recovery without distractions from the opposite sex, and to address certain issues that are particular to their gender.

Adolescent rehab programs address the unique challenges teens face in recovery, and religious or faith-based rehab programs incorporate various religious philosophies into their treatment models.

If you or someone you know is searching for an inpatient addiction treatment facility, call us to speak with an admissions consultant today. We can help answer any additional questions you may have.

Outpatient Rehab Options

Just like inpatient rehab, there are a number of different types of outpatient addiction treatment. In an intensive outpatient setting, a patient meets with an intake counselor who will assess the patient's individual situation prior to the start of the program. The type and severity of addiction, its duration, and the individual's health and life commitments should all factor into placing the patient in the best program possible. Outpatient programs vary in length, depending on the specific needs of the patient. Some may involve daily 8-hour programs, whereas others may only meet for 1 to 2 hours per day.

Outpatient rehabilitation employs some of the same treatment practices as inpatient care, such as individual therapy, group therapy, support groups, medication-assisted treatment, and life skills workshops. In some cases, participants in an outpatient program will be required to take weekly drug tests to ensure they aren't relapsing when they are away from the facility.

If patients suffer from multiple addictions, particularly severe or long-term addiction, or are diagnosed with both addiction and mental health issues, outpatient care may not be the optimal treatment solution.

Is Group Therapy Effective in Addiction Rehab?

We asked 379 alumni to rate their satisfaction with a variety of treatment centers based on selected criteria.

We found that those who had a positive group counseling experience were 168% more likely to recommend their treatment facility to others. This suggests that group therapy plays a big role in treatment success and satisfaction.

Group therapy has been proven effective in substance use treatment for a variety of reasons. Sober peer support, shared recovery wisdom, a reduction in feelings of isolation, and instillation of hope can all be found in group therapy. Patients can also begin to model sober behavior and learn coping skills, and how to provide peer feedback, encouragement, and support.

Learning or refining social skills, using peer confrontation about substance use or other harmful behaviors, and providing structure are also benefits of group therapy in addiction rehab. In some cases, peer support is provided outside of the group setting as well.

Extended Care and Long-Term Addiction Rehab

Extended care is ongoing treatment that continues after a patient has completed an initial course of rehabilitation. These long-term recovery efforts are made in a number of settings, from extended-care treatment facilities where patients live, to private therapy, or even regular attendance at self-help support groups. Most patients choose some form of extended care in order to support their lifelong sobriety.

Extended-care facilities are appropriate during a different point in the recovery process than long-term rehab centers. Extended-care facilities are available to people once they have completed a rehab program and would like additional support prior to returning home. This can also be a good option when the living situation is not conducive to recovery, or when other treatment options have not led to long-term sobriety.

Sober-living homes are relatively less restrictive extended-care facilities that can offer a transitional environment of support before a person returns home, allowing him to reintegrate into society without the use of substances. The individual lives in a house with other people in recovery, takes on daily responsibilities such as chores and a job, and attends group therapy sessions. Since the person lives in a sober environment with likeminded peers, there is less of a likelihood of relapse than if he was to immediately return to a home environment.

Long-term rehab is traditional inpatient rehab that involves a significantly longer stay, generally ranging from 6 to 18 months. Residential rehab can be most helpful for those suffering from severe addictions and can be especially effective for those who are having trouble with chronic relapse. Most long-term programs provide various resources, such as detox facilities, support groups, counseling, and even classes that can prepare the patient to live a stable life outside of the rehab center.

The length of the program is often determined by the patient's own progress, and the treatment duration can vary from a single month to a year, or longer if necessary. Most reputable facilities will only use specified timeframes as a guideline to gauge a patient's overall progress. If the patient has not achieved certain goals by the end of the designated time, the patient will not move forward to the next stage of the rehab process. The focus is the patient's progress in recovery rather than a daily countdown.

It is also important to note that long-term rehab facilities are not located in a hospital setting. Most facilities are set in a modern and comfortable home-like environment and staffed with qualified and licensed healthcare professionals. These types of programs provide 24-hour care and behavioral monitoring, full staff participation in the recovery process, and programs tailored to meet the needs of the patient.

Through the use of a structured treatment program, patients in recovery can learn new ways of thinking and acting. These changes will make patients aware of past behavior and help them create plans to avoid slipping back into the destructive habits and dependencies that brought them into treatment in the first place. Long-term treatment will only be effective if it can meet the requirements of the individual in rehab, and like other treatment options, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to long-term rehab.

It is imperative that addiction treatment be flexible in order for patients to effectively progress through recovery and prevent relapse. In addition to treating the patient, family services are often available for everyone who has been affected by the patient's addiction.

Peer support groups and 12-step programs are types of extended care that provide patients with regular ongoing support in dealing with their addiction and learning to live in recovery. Joining these programs is entirely voluntary, but many long-term treatments encourage patients to enroll for the vital support network these groups offer. Participants frequently have sponsors and even mentors to whom they are able to reach out to should they need support or guidance.

Ongoing care for lifelong addiction recovery comes in many forms, and it is important for patients to find what works best for them. For some, this may mean monthly sessions with a therapist. Others may find daily meditation classes helpful while others may participate in daily or weekly self-help meetings. The important part is that those in recovery have a clear aftercare plan in place to help them when temptation strikes.

Treatment Programs Aren’t All the Same

Changes in Importance of Treatment PreferencesRecovery Brands sent out a survey in 2016 asking those leaving an addiction rehab program what facility facets they believed to be as vital things to consider when looking for treatment. The top-rated priority was the center's financial practices, such as financial support, payment options, and insurance accepted. They also reported valuing the program's offerings (comforts, extra activities, room quality, etc.) significantly more upon completing treatment. People new to treatment should examine a clinic's financial options as well as the facility's offerings to help them make their final treatment decision. Read More

Calling a Helpline: What to Prepare

Whether you're calling for a loved one or for yourself, it can be handy to have some background information available for the admissions consultant that answers the phone. This information can be used to guide the search for an appropriate rehab. For instance, some people struggle with a co-occurring mental disorder, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, or depression. This is commonly referred to as a dual diagnosis. Since an addiction and co-occurring psychiatric condition can affect each other and the outcome of treatment, it's important that someone with a dual diagnosis receive treatment from a specialized dual diagnosis recovery program. Likewise, you'll want to let the admissions consultant know if you or the addicted individual has any medical problems, such as heart disease or diabetes. That way you can make sure to enter a program that can provide you with medical care in addition to addiction treatment.

All rehab programs are different; some have significant experience in addressing the unique needs of specific addictions, such as alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, heroin, etc. You'll want to tell the admissions consultant what substance or substances are being used, what the mode of administration is, the length of addiction, and any other relevant information. Lastly, it's important that you have you or the addicted individual's insurance card in front of you. Not all treatment centers will accept your insurance, so it's necessary to find ones that do.

Getting Help to Find the Right Addiction Rehab

Finding the right addiction rehab for you or a loved one may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Substance abuse treatment professionals are available to help you every step of the way.  Speaking to a physician or mental health professional may be a good first step in determining the best type of addiction treatment to suit your needs.

Don't let another day stand between you and recovery.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research based guide (third edition).
  2. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2005). Substance abuse treatment: Group therapy.
  3. Reif, S., George, P., Braude, L., Dougherty, R.H., Daniels, A.S., Ghose, S.S., & Delphin-Rittmon, M.E. (2014). Residential treatment for individuals with substance use disorders: Assessing the evidence. Psychiatric Services, 65(3), 301-312.
Last updated on March 1 2019
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8 thoughts on “How to Choose the Right Rehab to Treat a Drug or Alcohol Addiction”

  1. Kelly M. says:

    What are the best drug rehab centers?

    1. rehabs.com says:

      The best rehab center for you will depend on your particular situation with addiction. It’s important to choose a rehab program that is well-versed in addiction treatment, and ideally in your specific addiction. You can call our toll-free number and we’ll be happy to discuss your options with you. All Rehabs.com affiliate facilities are high-quality, evidence-based programs that have proven track records in helping addicts reach recovery.

  2. Greg B. says:

    What is the difference between inpatient and outpatient rehab?

    1. rehabs.com says:

      Inpatient rehab requires the person who is suffering from addiction to stay in a facility 24/7 until they complete the rehabilitation process. Outpatient services are less intense and allow the person who is going through treatment to live at home, while attending treatment sessions at the facility.

  3. Beth B. says:

    What is a peer mentor?

    1. rehabs.com says:

      A peer mentor or sponsor is a person the patient can contact when they are feeling uncertain about their life and recovery, and feel like relapsing into addiction. Oftentimes, mentors will only interact when contacted by the patient; however, a sponsor will go out of their way to check up on the progress of the person they are sponsoring. Sponsors are common in most 12-step treatment groups.

  4. Sean T. says:

    What is detox?

    1. rehabs.com says:

      Detox is the process a patient undergoes when their body is being cleared of any toxic substances, including alcohol and drugs. The process is not always easy; in fact, for those with a heavy addiction, the withdrawal process can be very painful. It is recommended that a person who is going to go through detox stay at an inpatient addiction treatment facility so their withdrawal symptoms can be monitored by medical personnel.

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