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Drug Treatment & Recovery

Taking the next step: The benefits of therapy and other treatment options.

Just like addiction itself, treatment comes in many forms — and it’s important to choose a treatment method that works for you. While group therapy may provide relief for some, others may prefer individual counseling. You can even create a new experience altogether by combining various treatment options. Taking the time to figure out what works for you can set you up for success on your journey to recovery.

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Types of drug addiction treatment

Treatment for drug addiction can help people:

  • Understand addiction and the recovery process.
  • Accept and learn from their experiences.
  • Discover the ins and outs of living sober.
  • Address and manage underlying emotional or mental health challenges.
  • Learn strategies for overcoming cravings and avoiding negative habits or behaviors related to drug use.
  • Feel connected with others through support from mental health professionals and peers who have had similar experiences.

Choosing to change your relationship with drugs is an important first step — but it’s important to remember that it’s part of a longer journey. As you begin your recovery journey, know that you’re not in it alone: Drug addiction treatment programs such as group therapy, inpatient care, and individual counseling can give you the tools you need to live drug-free.

Before selecting your treatment method, it’s important to understand the various ways to treat substance dependence. There are many types of treatment, but all fit into two broad categories: outpatient and inpatient care.

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Inpatient care

Inpatient care offers round-the-clock support by requiring patients to live in a facility. Patients usually live full-time at the facility, from a few days to months or even years. While moving away from friends and family may seem like a drawback, living in inpatient care means that every part of your day-to-day life will focus on recovery. Inpatient care removes people from their normal surroundings, which helps rid them of typical temptations and keeps them in a healthy environment. It also provides ongoing skills training and education and is associated with higher rates of long-term recovery.

Phases of inpatient care

Detox. The first phase of the recovery process involves reducing or entirely discontinuing drug use — depending on the program and severity of the addiction. Depending on the drug, this period may include medical management of withdrawal symptoms. After initial detox, patients begin to see their strength come back as they begin a daily regimen of eating well and exercising.

Reflection. After completing detox and regaining their strength, patients learn about addiction and recovery, and they define the role that drugs have played in their lives. Equipped with this knowledge, patients work toward reforming an identity free of drugs.

Growth. This last phase of treatment begins at the inpatient facility and continues as the patient transitions back home. Patients will adjust to their former surroundings as they implement the changes and pursue the goals they developed while at the inpatient facility.

Long-term or short-term?

Long-term care, like living at a rehab center or sober house, means 24/7 care in a nonhospital setting. Stays often last for six months to a year and involve activities geared toward introspection and developing constructive beliefs.

Short-term treatment condenses the detox, reflection, and growth phases into a shorter period — often around 30 days.

As you determine what treatment might work best for you, it’s important to consider that short-term treatment may cost less initially, but it can also be less effective. It may be helpful to supplement short-term treatment with outpatient care.

Inpatient care removes people from their normal surroundings, which helps rid them of typical temptations and keeps them in a healthy environment.

Outpatient care

People who pursue outpatient care may continue to live at home as they seek treatment. Outpatient care may be particularly helpful for people who need to stay at home throughout their recovery journey — whether it’s to stay on track at school, keep up with a job, or take care of children. Most types of outpatient care include some form of group and/or individual counseling.

Types of therapy for outpatient care:

  • In cognitive behavioral therapy, patients and a therapist work together to identify thoughts and behaviors that may be contributing to unwanted behavior, then build skills for managing drug use.
  • Contingency management focuses on reinforcing positive behavior to help patients limit or eliminate drug use. For example, a patient who passes a drug test may receive a cash reward or voucher. The value of the reward may increase as the patient passes several drug tests in a row.
  • In motivational interviewing, the therapist works with the patient to identify long-term goals, uncover the patient’s motivation to change. Motivational interviewing is particularly effective in overcoming hesitation to treatment.
  • The matrix model is a hybrid of several different approaches, including cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, drug testing, and contingency management.
  • Multidimensional family therapy focuses on family dynamics and relationships, commonly used for adolescents with drug addiction. This type of therapy benefits both patients and their families as they continue their journey to recovery.


Taking medication to overcome drug addiction may seem like a strange idea. You may wonder whether you’ll become dependent on the medication itself, or if you can trust yourself on the medication. Those are valid concerns — and certified mental health professionals work directly with patients to determine if medication will work well for them. Medication is just one of many ways to manage cravings and addiction, but combining a medical regimen to manage withdrawal symptoms with a form of therapy can be effective during recovery.