Understanding Adult Addiction Treatment

Individuals who are struggling with addictions can often benefit from care that is specially tailored to their specific needs. Many treatment programs, for example, divide treatment programs into age groups. Given that the needs of an adult with a substance use disorder are different than the needs of an adolescent or an older adult with a substance use disorder, these divisions according to age allow individuals to receive high quality treatment that will give them the best possible chance of achieving long-term sobriety.

Adults with substance use disorders do not experience the same developmental issues as adolescents with substance use disorders, nor do they have the co-occurring concerns and other medical issues that can accompany substance use disorders later in life. As such, an adult with a substance use disorder will likely receive the best possible treatment in an environment that is designed specifically for adults.

There are a wide range of levels of care for substance use disorders, and treatment is dictated by the needs of the individual. Below are some of the most common levels of care in which an adult with a substance use disorder may receive treatment:

Inpatient or Residential: Inpatient and residential levels of care allow individuals to live at the treatment center and receive intensive interventions in a substance-free environment. Typically lasting from a few days to two weeks for inpatient treatment, and a few weeks to a few months for residential treatment, these levels of care allow an individual to escape the stresses and temptations of daily life and focus on building a foundation for lifelong sobriety. Inpatient and residential programs also often include detoxification, or detox, components for individuals who arrive at the treatment center with substances still in their systems.

Partial Hospitalization Programming (PHP): PHP is often an adult’s first step back into his or her everyday life after completing inpatient or residential treatment. PHP is a slightly less intensive level of care compared to inpatient or residential treatment. During PHP, adults may or may not live at the treatment center, depending on the individual program. However, PHP programs often include many of the same interventions as inpatient and residential treatment, including medication management, individual therapy, groups, experiential therapies, family therapy, psychoeducation, and other interventions.

Intensive Outpatient Programming (IOP): For many adults, IOP is the last step of treatment before they return to their everyday lives. IOP typically involves 3 to 4 hours of treatment each day for a few days per week and often includes many of the same interventions as the other levels of care described above, including groups, medication management, and individual therapy. IOP is generally used as a more intensive level of treatment than traditional outpatient care, as well as step-down care from PHP.

Traditional outpatient: Once an individual completes inpatient, residential, PHP, and/or IOP, he or she often continues to receive care from providers in his or her community. This type of care is entirely self-directed, but depending on an individual’s choices, he or she may decide to begin individual therapy, groups, or other interventions such as 12-Step meetings.

Throughout all of the above levels of care, adults can expect to receive treatment from a number of professionals, including:

  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Therapists
  • Counselors
  • Addictions counselors
  • Nurses
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Art therapists
  • Recreational therapists
  • Experiential therapists

The types of treatment that individual will receive depend on many different factors, including the level of care, as well as the specifics of his or her treatment program and individual treatment plan. However, the interventions listed below are among the most common that individuals in treatment for substance abuse receive:

Detoxification: Detoxification, or detox, is a medically-supervised treatment during which individuals can complete the withdrawal process safely and as comfortably as possible before beginning inpatient or residential treatment.

Medication management: For individuals with co-occurring mental health conditions along with primary substance use disorders, medication management is a service that helps these individuals receive medications that can enable them to better manage their mental health symptoms. Medications are often administered and managed by psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, and nursing staff at the individual’s chosen treatment center.

Individual therapy: Sessions lead by a trained therapist or counselor allow individuals to receive regular one-on-one support and provide a chance for them to process successes and setbacks in their recovery journeys.

Groups: Often the backbone of many treatment programs, groups are a fundamental component of treatment. They allow individuals to support and be supported by each other while practicing the skills that will enable them to maintain long-term sobriety.

Experiential therapy: Experiential therapy provides a chance for individuals engage their minds and bodies in the process of recovery. Art therapy, recreation therapy, equine therapy, and numerous others are all types of experiential therapy.

Family therapy and education: Because the disease of addiction often affects the entire family in different ways, many treatment programs for adults provide family therapy and education to help family members build their relationships and learn about any dynamics that may be interfering with their ability to support each other.

If you or someone you love might benefit from the types of care found in an adult substance abuse program, research options for treatment and contact the admissions team of your chosen treatment center. A sober, substance-free life could be just around the corner.

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