For many individuals, treatment is a long-term process that involves multiple interventions and regular monitoring.

Addiction to alcohol or other drugs is a chronic disease that affects both brain and behavior. Rehab treatment has been proven to help addicted individuals stop compulsive drug seeking and use.1 Treatment may take place in a variety of settings, come in many different forms, and continue for varying lengths of time.

Because drug addiction is a chronic disorder characterized by occasional relapses, a short-term, one-time treatment is usually not sufficient. For many individuals, treatment is a long-term process that involves multiple interventions and regular monitoring.

There are a variety of evidence-based (that is, clinically/scientifically proven) approaches to addiction treatment. Treatment may include behavioral therapy, medications, or a combination of both. The specific type of treatment or combination of treatments will vary depending on the individual’s needs and the types of substances he or she has been using.2

Steps for Successful Recovery

Treatment usually follows these basic phases:

  • Detoxification – the process by which the body rids itself of a substance. Medically supervised detoxification will lead to a more successful and safe outcome.
  • Behavioral therapy (e.g., cognitive-behavioral therapy and case or care management) – services provided by a trained clinician, such as a counselor, therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist.
  • Medication – treatment administered to ease withdrawal symptoms or to improve mental health
  • Long-term follow-up (to prevent relapse) – while most challenging at first, recovery is usually a lifelong process, so counseling, 12-Step fellowship, peer support and other recovery support services are important follow-through and follow-up measures.1

Detoxification: Where It All Begins

Detoxification is an important first step to wellness. Because the body undergoes significant changes during withdrawal, it is a good idea to seek a detox program that offers medical supervision and assistance staff.2,3

Detoxification is designed to help each person manage the acute and potentially dangerous effects of breaking a physiological addiction. However, detox alone does not address the psychological, social and behavioral issues associated with addiction and, therefore, does not typically produce lasting behavioral changes necessary for recovery. So detox should be followed by a formal assessment and referral to drug rehab treatment.2

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapies can also help people improve communication, relationship and parenting skills, and family dynamics.

Counseling can take a number of forms depending on the type of therapy being used, the goals of the treatment, and other factors in the life of the person receiving help. Counseling may last for months or even years, or it may be brief and results-oriented. Individual and group counseling are often helpful during treatment.4 Behavioral therapies can also help people improve communication, relationship and parenting skills, and family dynamics.

In a group setting, therapy can provide social reinforcement and help enforce behaviors that promote abstinence and a non-drug-using lifestyle. Peer supports are a critical component in substance use disorder treatment; they can play a powerful role in therapy. A social support network – particularly of recovering peers – provides hope, coping strategies and role models, which help nurture the strength that is needed in trying times along the road to recovery.5,6

A Combination Works Best

Since they work on different aspects of addiction, behavioral therapies and medications are generally more effective when used together. For instance, psychoactive medications – such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety agents, mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medications – may be necessary for successful counseling to occur when patients have disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.2

Whichever approach is implemented, an individual’s treatment plan must be assessed continually – and modified as necessary – to ensure that it meets the changing needs of the individual. Varying combinations of services and treatment components may be appropriate at various stages of recovery.2

Treatment Settings Designed to Meet the Complexities of Need

Inpatient Treatment or Residential Treatment – This type of treatment provides care 24 hours a day and often includes detoxification services. Treatment is highly structured, with activities designed to help residents examine damaging beliefs, self-concepts and destructive patterns of behavior and adopt new, more harmonious and constructive ways to interact with others. Oftentimes, comprehensive services are offered, which may include onsite employment training and other support services.

Outpatient Treatment – Outpatient treatment programs are an effective follow-up after residential treatment and help reduce the risk of relapse once a patient leaves the residential setting.Outpatient treatment varies in type and intensity of services offered. Outpatient treatment costs less than residential or inpatient treatment and often is more suitable for people with jobs or extensive social supports.2

Treatment for More than Just Addiction

Skywood Recovery Main EntranceFor most people, recovery goes beyond the simple cessation of substance use. For individuals to reclaim who they were before addiction, a process of growth and change must occur in attitudes, thinking and behaviors.9

People who struggle with substance use or other addictions often suffer from other mental or physical health conditions that should be addressed concurrently. The best programs provide a combination of therapies and other services to meet the specific needs of the total individual. Left untreated, one disorder – such as a mental health condition – may complicate the treatment of another disorder – such as addiction, thereby delaying or possibly defeating successful recovery of any or all of the disorders.2

Skywood specializes in services that treat all co-occurring health conditions. Our integrated approach to treating the whole person is recognized for its success in more than ten independent studies.1,5,6,8 Postured in professionalism and discretion, we believe that treatment should be a process that is as unique as the individuals we serve.


1 DrugFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Jan 2016. Accessed 24 June 2017.

2 Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Dec 2012. Accessed 24 June 2017.

3 Frequently Asked Questions. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Aug 2015. Accessed 24 June 2017.

4 Behavioral Health Treatments and Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Oct 2015. Accessed 24 June 2017.

5 Treatments for Substance Use Disorders. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Sept 2015. Accessed 24 June 2017.

6 Pathways to Long-Term Recovery: A Preliminary Investigation. National Center for Biotechnology Information. April 2017. Accessed 24 June 2017.

7 DrugFacts: Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction.National Institute on Drug Abuse. Nov 2012. Accessed 24 June 2017.

8 Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse. July 2014. Accessed 24 June 2017.

9 Laudet, Alexandre B., Ph.D., What Does Recovery Mean to You? Lessons from the Recovery Experience for Research and Practice. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Oct 2007. Accessed 24 June 2017.

10 Treatment and Recovery. Office of National Drug Control Policy. Accessed 24 June 2017.