When to Refer Patients to Substance Abuse Treatment

Long-term addiction recovery requires continuous support. Learn more about why and when patients with substance use disorders should be referred to an accredited rehabilitation facility.

Addiction is a disease comprised of many behavioral, genetic, psychological and physical factors. Consequently, treatment typically requires far more than ending substance use through detoxification. For long-term recovery, many people with a substance use disorder need an all-encompassing treatment plan that includes behavioral therapies, aftercare planning and other methods of healing.

Many primary care facilities, facilities or counselors do not have the resources or time needed for long-term care programs. Many people living with an addiction need 24-hour care for the physical and mental impacts that occur during detox and withdrawal. Rehabilitation centers usually offer on-site care around the clock, providing patients with individualized inpatient and outpatient plans that fit their unique needs. In addition, staff members specialize in addiction treatment and co-occurring mental health disorders.

The process of addiction treatment is often time-intensive and involves close supervision. If your patient requires care for a chronic substance use disorder, it may be time to refer them to a full-service treatment center.

Signs a Patient Needs Additional Care

There are numerous signs that indicate a patient may need additional care for addiction treatment. Beyond the typical signs of addiction, a patient may benefit from attending an inpatient rehabilitation center if they:

  • Are unwilling or unable to follow an outpatient treatment plan
  • Continually experience negative impacts to their health
  • Have experienced relapses after detoxification
  • Are not finding previous treatment to be effective
  • Need additional support for co-occurring mental health conditions
  • Require continuous or long-term support for treating addiction

Medical or clinical providers are often the first to identify when clients need additional care. Because you know your patient and understand their medical needs, referring them when they need help can provide life-saving treatment.

Benefits of Addiction Treatment

When a patient needs a greater amount of support for addiction or co-occurring mental health conditions, a stay at an inpatient rehabilitation center is often necessary. There are many benefits to inpatient drug rehab, the greatest being that patients receive support around the clock in a safe, secure location that reduces stressful triggers to help prevent setbacks.

There are 13 principles of effective addiction treatment. Accredited and licensed rehab facilities are built upon these tenets, allowing those who receive treatment to begin a life-long recovery journey. A few key principles include:

  • Treatment needs to be readily available
  • Remaining in treatment for an adequate amount of time is critical
  • Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself may do little to change long-term drug abuse

Rehabilitation gives people with substance use disorders a better chance of long-term recovery. These facilities provide care when patients need it the most. Many rehab centers also create plans to help patients stay sober after the inpatient program has ended. People are able to gradually re-enter their lives while still having the assistance of aftercare programs, recovery support and counseling.

Although setbacks may happen during recovery, the best indicator of long-term healing is a marked improvementin a person’s quality of life. A relapse typically indicates that a patient’s treatment needs to be re-evaluated and modified.

Take the Next Steps

If your patient is struggling with a substance use disorder and requires a more hands-on approach to addiction treatment, The Recovery Village is here to help. We offer a wide array of services to our patients, typically starting with intensive residential treatment that gradually transitions to aftercare support.

We understand that no two patients are the same, and we look into the many factors that contribute to a person’s substance misuse. Upon admission, our expert staff creates individualized plans that work with each patient’s unique needs and situations. Patients receive treatment that addresses each aspect of their disorder, helping them to learn strategies and tools they can use to deal with situations throughout their lifelong recovery.

If you’d like to learn more about referring your patient to The Recovery Village, call today. Your referral can help provide clients with a healthier future.


National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment.” December 2012. Accessed October 31, 2019.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.” July 2018. Accessed October 31, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.