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What are the Treatment Options for Addiction?

IOP, OP, Detox, Residential Care, Mental Health Care

For those suffering from addiction or have a loved one suffering from addiction, navigating how to get the help needed can seem like an overwhelming task, particularly if they are unfamiliar with addiction as a disease and treatment for addiction. Many are unfamiliar with the terminology used and what it all means. For example, one of the terms some find confusing is the word “client” as opposed to patient. In the mental health/addiction recovery treatment space, participants are most often referred to as clients as opposed to patients. Most reputable treatment centers have pre-admission and admission staff that are more than happy to help and explain, in a simple manner, the terminology, the entire process, and what it entails.

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Most suffering addicts will require Detoxification Treatment, often referred to simply as “Detox”. This is a process by which the substances to which the person has become addicted are removed from the body in a comfortable medical setting. This process minimizes withdrawal symptoms which can be deadly if not medically addressed. Withdrawal symptoms, in the absence of medical treatment with prescription and non-prescription medications/treatments, are incredibly painful mentally and physically. These symptoms can also be lethal. Clients are monitored 24/7 many times throughout the day and night. This process typically takes 5 to 7 days however, it can take longer.


The next phase of treatment is typically Residential Treatment, often referred to as “Res” or “Residential”. In this level of care, the client has been detoxed from the addictive substances but are often still extremely fragile mentally and physically. Clients are monitored 24/7 though less frequently than in Detox. They are encouraged to start attending clinical treatment sessions and participate in other clinical and recreational activities offered. The residential level of treatment is often 20 days or more though it can take less time and sometimes can require more time.

The goal of the Detoxification and Residential Levels of Care is to get the person healthy enough mentally and physically to receive intensive clinical treatment. Detoxification and Residential Treatment focus more on the medical aspects of early recovery whereas the remaining levels of care focus more on clinical treatment. The goal of clinical treatment (along with 12 step meetings or other types of recovery groups and processes) is to help the client “reprogram” their minds – replacing the addictive neuropathways with healthy neuropathways. Clients learn to live productively and happily without addictive substances, i.e., developing coping skills, healthy daily living habits, learning to live life on life’s terms.

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Day/Night Treatment is the next phase of treatment. This level of care is often referred to as “D&T” or “PHP” (Partial Hospitalization Program). Clients are typically in treatment 6 hours per day, 7 days per week. Often the schedule includes going to 12 step meetings and other recovery nightly. Recreational activities are usually included and may take place on the weekends. Most often, clients are living in Day/Night Treatment Housing and are monitored around the clock though much less frequently than in Residential Treatment. Length of stay varies though 3 weeks or more is common. Clients with more severe underlying mental health issues may go into a Mental Health Residential track, if the treatment center offers that level of care, prior to entering Day/Night Treatment for a week or longer. This level of care is often referred to as “MH” or “MH Res”.

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After the client has completed these levels of care, the next phase is typically Intensive Outpatient Treatment, most often referred to as “IOP”. Clients are typically in group 3 to 5 days per week for 3 hours. If the treatment center has sober living facilities, many clients will live there for the duration of the IOP treatment. In this phase, clients will be looking for jobs and making plans with the clinical team to successfully reintegrate back into society with a solid plan to maintain their sobriety. Clients may be in this level of care for 3 weeks or more. Once completed, clients are encouraged to participate in Outpatient Treatment (OP) for 2 to 4 hours per week as part of their recovery plan. Clients can typically stay in this level of care for a month or more if they so choose and the clinical team believes it would be helpful.

The overall treatment process is designed to phase a client successfully back into society in a methodical and strategic manner giving that person the best chance of getting sober safely and maintaining sobriety. The lengths of stay in each level of care is primarily determined by the medical and professional staff and can vary from what we have stated in this article. The treatment process may take 2 to 3 months or more. That said, the recovery process is a lifetime endeavor.

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