An Overview of Substance Abuse Treatment


Substance abuse treatment is the most effective way to stop using drugs. Having a general overview of treatment and what it entails can eliminate myths surrounding rehab and empower individuals to get the care they need.


The first step of recovery is getting an assessment to determine the client’s needs. Each client has unique treatment needs and goals. Collaboration with the treatment team will help create specific treatment recommendations that are tailored to the client’s needs. A monitored detox may be necessary depending on the severity and extent of substance use.


After the assessment, the next step is detox. Of note, if a monitored detox was recommended by the treatment team, it’s highly important to follow their recommendations because, in some cases, detoxing alone is problematic. First, for clients with severe dependence, detoxing alone is dangerous. Detoxing from certain substances too fast may have serious negative consequences if clients are not monitored closely.

Second, the discomfort from withdrawal symptoms may trigger a relapse. During detox, most clients do not yet have the tools and positive coping skills to deal with uncomfortable feelings and physical symptoms. As a result, they may resort to using again. Given the danger and the discomfort associated with detox, it is highly recommended to do it in a substance abuse treatment facility with the help and support of caring staff who have the resources to alleviate anxiety and discomfort.

Prior to detoxing, clients meet with their treatment team to collaborate and identify the safest way to start. The benefit of detoxing in a drug rehab facility is continuous monitoring. Detoxing from substances such as heroin and alcohol can be notably difficult on the body and present a wide range of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Having access to a medical team who can closely monitor and facilitate the detox is ideal.

Three Treatment Phases

After detox, the next phase of treatment begins. Treatment after detox can typically be divided into three phases: first, second, and after treatment. Each phase can vary in length depending on the needs but usually last no longer than twelve weeks each.

The first phase of treatment is designed to uncover the underlying cause of the substance abuse addiction. By identifying the cause, clients can get a better understanding of their triggers and thoughts. Through therapies, individual and family counselling sessions, and group sessions, clients learn more about what drives their behaviour, and they can learn effective coping strategies.

During the second phase of treatment, clients continue their work from the first phase whilst practising how to make healthy choices and avoid relapse. This phase may also involve extensive family work.

The third phase of treatment is the after-treatment planning and continued support. The purpose of this phase is to help clients identify specific resources in the community that can be helpful to support their recovery.

Overall, the substance abuse treatment process is straightforward. After an assessment and detox, there are typically three treatment phases to help promote relapse prevention and recovery. Treatment facilities provide the structure needed to make recovery obtainable.

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