There are almost 15,000 addiction and alcoholism treatment centers throughout the United States. However, with all these resources available, only 11.2% of the 23.5 million people who need drug or alcohol addiction treatment receive proper care at a specialty addiction recovery facility.

With such a large discrepancy between the number of people needing treatment and the number receiving it, there are likely multiple factors at play. One of these factors may be confusion surrounding the levels of care for addiction and alcoholism treatment options. Levels of care include:

There is no one-size-fits-all model for addiction treatment. What works to help one addict or alcoholic find sobriety may not work for another. With varying severities of dependence from one person to another, it is difficult to say, “Go to [specific facility] in order to get sober.”

Confusion about different levels of care should not bar anyone from receiving the assistance they need to achieve sobriety. Continue reading to learn more about the different levels of care for addiction and alcoholism.

Medical Detox

When you use large amounts of drugs and alcohol for an extended period of time, dependence develops. Not only is there a psychological dependence in wanting to drink or use more but there is also physical dependence. The body of an addict or alcoholic becomes reliant upon these substances to survive.       

When a substance-dependent person gets clean and sober, they usually experience physical withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox is the process of helping an alcoholic or addict separate from substances in a safe and medically supervised environment. Detox usually takes place on an inpatient basis and withdrawal is often managed with medication.

Drug and alcohol detox lasts anywhere from three to 10 days depending on the severity of the addiction. During the intake assessment, a team of professionals will determine the best course of action for treatment and determine an appropriate length of stay.

Residential Inpatient

Inpatient care takes place in a residential facility where addicts and alcoholics receive treatment for either a 30-, 60-, or 90-day program. Each person receives an individualized treatment plan after an initial assessment and works with a counselor during their stay.

Some inpatient drug and alcohol rehab facilities include detox as part of the process while others operate on a standalone basis. If your inpatient program includes detox, you will transfer directly from detox to inpatient care. However, if attending a standalone detox, it is recommended to check in to an inpatient care facility upon release.

Inpatient treatment programs are extremely structured and include individual and group therapy as well as drug and alcohol educational sessions. Some facilities also offer medication management while others require patients to be medication-free.

Certain facilities include anonymous 12-step programs as part of their treatment plans. Whether the meetings are held within the facility or out in the community, these programs may be an integral part of the recovery process.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) are an intensive form of addiction treatment with similar programs to inpatient care. However, at the end of the sessions you are able to return home. Many people live in sober living while attending a PHP in order to remain in a clean and sober environment throughout their day.

PHP programming usually lasts for six hours per day, five days per week. Some people find them preferable to inpatient care due to the lower cost. Since you do not stay overnight, the pricing is usually much more affordable than inpatient care.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are a less time-intensive form of PHP. The two are often confused as both occur on an outpatient basis, but IOP takes up much less time during the week. Programming is usually around three hours per day, three to five days per week, for a total of nine hours of treatment weekly.

IOP uses individual and group therapy sessions with an emphasis on education, trigger management and relapse prevention. Often offered in the evenings, IOP is a great option for anyone who attends school or works full time during the day. They are usually favorable due to being much more affordable than either inpatient rehab or IOP.

doctor recommending addiction treatment to patient

Drug and Alcohol Counseling

Drug and alcohol counseling takes place on an individual basis with a certified counselor or therapist who specializes in addiction and alcoholism. Counseling is usually in hour-long sessions offered as frequently or infrequently as you like. There is generally no requirement on the amount of sessions you must attend unless you are in an aftercare treatment plan.

In drug and alcohol counseling, you and your therapist will focus on how to manage your specific triggers. You will work through situations in your everyday life that bring up old behaviors or feelings. Additionally, you will develop ways to prevent relapse and maintain strong, long-term recovery.

Of all the treatment levels, drug and alcohol counseling is the most affordable option. As you receive much less treatment in counseling, it works best as a follow-up to a more intensive option such as inpatient or outpatient care.

Whichever option you select, addiction treatment can be a great first step in getting sober. While not every addict or alcoholic needs or will opt for medical treatment, it is beneficial. In group-based programs you join a community of like-minded individuals working toward your same goals. But whether you seek medical treatment or other therapy, any level of treatment can be the foundation for the life of health and happiness that you truly deserve.

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