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Levels Of Care In Addiction Treatment

Levels Of Care In Addiction Treatment

There are various levels of care in the addiction treatment process.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines this continuum as five wide-ranging levels of care:

  • early intervention
  • outpatient services
  • intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization programs
  • residential or inpatient services
  • medically managed intensive inpatient services

This continuum is designed for the entire spectrum of addiction treatment patients, from those with mild addiction just starting the treatment journey to those with severe and debilitating conditions who require 24-hour intensive nursing and physician care.

What To Expect From Our Levels Of Care

Although clinicians and providers look to ASAM for the latest guidelines on practicing addiction medicine, the continuum of care you’ll experience at Ark Behavioral Health includes:

  • Medical Detoxification
  • Residential/Inpatient Treatment
  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
  • Outpatient Program (OP)
  • Aftercare Planning

The goal of receiving a full continuum of care is to transition you from one level of treatment to the next, or to ensure you access the treatment program that best serves your needs. 

Medical Detoxification

Medical detoxification or detox programs help patients manage the initial phase of recovery—withdrawal. The severity of withdrawal symptoms range based on the substance, but symptoms can cause discomfort, lead to relapse, and potentially be dangerous.

Medical detox programs keep patients comfortable and safe by offering:

  • 24-hour intensive medical care
  • clinical support
  • nutritional guidance and IV fluids
  • medication

Although detox programs help you manage withdrawal, they do not treat addiction. Instead, they prepare you both physically and mentally for an outpatient or inpatient drug rehab program.

Learn more about Detoxification

Residential/Inpatient Treatment

For severe addiction, residential or inpatient treatment is likely the next recommended level of care. It is the most comprehensive and intensive option for addiction treatment available.

Residential treatment involves living in a rehab facility for around 30-days or longer.

During an inpatient rehab program, you participate in a structured daily schedule that may include:

  • individual behavioral therapy
  • group therapy
  • family counseling
  • 12-step support groups
  • psychiatric care for co-occurring mental health disorders
  • holistic exercises like yoga or meditation
  • recreational activities

Residential treatment can be offered in a home-like environment that supports rest and relaxation. It can also be available in hospital-like settings with intensive medical care for a range of psychiatric and behavioral health conditions.

Learn more about Inpatient Drug Rehab

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

The next most intensive level of care is day treatment or a partial hospitalization program (PHP). These programs take place on an outpatient basis, and include scheduled treatment sessions for five to six days each week. Each treatment session can last for up to six hours.

PHPs may include:

  • psychiatric support for co-occurring mental health disorders
  • medical care
  • 12-step facilitation and involvement
  • medication management
  • behavioral therapies
  • family counseling

Day treatment hinges on family support and involvement. Although the program is intensive, you return home after each treatment session. This means you need a reliable network of support outside of the treatment center.

Learn more about Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

A step-down in intensity from a PHP, an intensive outpatient program (IOP) requires at least nine hours of outpatient treatment every week. Many IOPs offer a treatment schedule that includes three to five three-hour sessions each week.

IOPs are likely to include:

  • group therapy
  • individual counseling
  • mental health and addiction education
  • case management

An IOP is a good option if you’re going through addiction treatment for the first time but can’t attend a residential or inpatient program. It’s also effective as a step-down level of care following residential treatment or a partial hospitalization program.

Learn more about Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)

Outpatient Program (OP)

An outpatient program (OP) is the most flexible and least restrictive form of addiction treatment. In some cases it may only include educational sessions on addiction and support group meetings.

Although it’s the least restrictive treatment, OPs can be beneficial if you can’t afford inpatient care, need to work or go to school during rehab, or have a support system of family and friends you can count on.

Learn more about Outpatient Programs

Aftercare Planning

Aftercare is a crucial component of the continuum of care and essential for long-lasting recovery. These services can be coordinated and planned by a therapist, case manager, or other professionals facilitating your care. 

Aftercare services may include:

  • sober-living or transitional housing
  • counseling
  • employment assistance
  • legal assistance
  • support groups
  • recovery coaching

You may also have access to a network of supportive services through our alumni programs. As an alumni of Ark Behavioral Health, you’ll be connected to a community of support that lasts long after your treatment program is over.

How Is Level Of Care Determined?

Which level of care you start or transition into during treatment depends on an assessment of your needs. This assessment will look at criteria established by ASAM, which helps clinical providers determine the severity of your addiction. 

Your team of clinicians and treatment professionals will assess your situation and determine the appropriate level of care by exploring:

  • your history of withdrawal or your current withdrawal symptoms
  • your health history and current physical health condition
  • your thoughts and emotions, including any co-occurring mental health issues
  • your willingness and desire to change your life for the better
  • your relationship with sobriety, relapse, and continued substance use
  • your living situation and environment, including the people around you

By assessing your unique situation, we create an individualized plan that helps you become an active participant in your own treatment and care. 

After your assessment and appropriate level of care is determined, you’ll have access to a variety of evidence-based services and treatments.

Our Treatment Approaches

Although each level of care provides services specific to your needs, they’ll all include an approach that is proven by scientific research or valued by the recovery community and treatment providers. 

These approaches are designed to treat your addiction, address your mental and behavioral health, heal your relationship with your family, and support your ongoing recovery:

  • medication-assisted treatment
  • behavioral therapy
  • support groups
  • holistic approach

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an evidence-based care option that includes a combination of FDA-approved medication and therapy to address certain addictions.

MAT is currently available for:

  • opioid addiction
  • alcohol addiction
  • tobacco addiction

MAT programs use medication to lower dependence, lessen cravings, and rewire brain chemistry overtime to help you better engage in treatment and recovery. Only some medications are available, including buprenorphine, naltrexone, methadone, disulfiram, and others. 

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is the backbone of addiction treatment.

This evidence-based treatment method helps you: 

  • engage in addiction treatment and rehab
  • find motivation to stop using drugs or alcohol
  • change your thinking and attitudes about use
  • improve your life skills
  • identify triggers and handle stressful situations that lead to relapse

Evidence-based behavioral therapies that may be offered in your treatment plan include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Motivational interviewing (MI)
  • Contingency management interventions
  • 12-step facilitation therapy
  • Family therapy

The therapy you participate in aims to meet your recovery needs. You may participate in just one therapy, but will likely engage in various behavioral therapies to address all facets of your addiction and mental health.

Support Groups

Although scientific data and research is lacking in the efficacy of support groups, these group therapy sessions have repeatedly shown to be effective for supporting long-term recovery. 

While they’re not a substitute for evidence-based care, they’re an invaluable tool for supporting you both during and after treatment.

Many of our support groups are rooted in the 12-step model, which include:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
  • Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA)

There are also non-12-step support groups available, including:

  • SMART Recovery
  • Celebrate Recovery
  • Women for Sobriety (WFS)
  • Secular Organizations for Sobriety (S.O.S.)

Family members and friends also have access to support groups like Al-Anon and Alateen to better understand their loved one with addiction and learn how to heal.

Holistic Approach

Using a holistic approach to treat addiction allows you to express your thoughts and feelings through different activities that promote whole-person wellness. 

These methods and activities may include:

  • art therapy
  • music therapy
  • equine therapy
  • yoga and meditation
  • Tai Chi
  • nutrition and eating well
  • leisure/recreational activities

Holistic activities encourage spiritual growth, appreciation, and a heightened awareness of living in the moment. You can improve your self-esteem and confidence, learning how to live a healthy, happy, and purposeful life in recovery.

Find Recovery With Ark Behavioral Health

Our wide-ranging network of Massachusetts treatment centers serve patients in the Northeast region and across the United States. We provide all levels of evidence-based care to help you stop using and find purpose in recovery.

Getting started is easy and our admissions process is simple. To learn more about our treatment centers, please connect with a trusted treatment specialist today.

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

American Society of Addiction Medicine - About the ASAM Criteria
American Society of Addiction Medicine - What are the ASAM Levels of Care?
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Behavioral Therapies
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Evidence-Based Approaches to Drug Addiction Treatment
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Support Groups
National Library of Medicine - An holistic approach to substance abuse treatment
National Library of Medicine - Creating the continuum of care

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