Finding the Right Addiction Treatment Program


Admitting you have an addiction is hard to do. But it’s the first step in getting help for your problem. The next step is getting help through treatment.

The purpose of addiction treatment is to help yourself or another person:

  • Stop the addiction.
  • Keep the addiction stopped.
  • Be productive at home, at work, and in society.

Path to improved health

There are several types of addiction treatment available. These are some of the most common.


This is the most intensive type of treatment. It’s for people with severe addiction issues. For this type of care, you live at a specialized facility for an extended period of time. The amount of time depends on the facility and the type of treatment you need.

Some people may stay a few days at a hospital’s in-patient addiction recovery unit. Others may stay at an out-of-town facility for 30 days or more. Some private facilities offer programs that last 6 months or longer.

The most common programs typically last 30 days. These programs are good for people who have trouble staying addiction free on their own. They provide more structure and guidance. An inpatient program gives you a safe place to stay while you focus on yourself. While living there, you may attend individual therapy, group therapy, and classes. These teach you about addiction. They help you learn to live without your addiction.

Intensive Outpatient

An intensive outpatient (IOP) program provides the same therapy and education as inpatient treatment. But you stay at your own home for the duration of treatment. You take part in a program that lasts several hours a day. Some programs run during the day. Others run in the evening. If you have a family or commitments that prevent you from going away for treatment, IOP could be a good option for you.

Sober Living

Some people choose to live in houses or communities with people who are all in recovery. This gives them accountability and structure they may not have at home. There are usually rules that must be followed. Residents often have chores or responsibilities within the house. With this treatment, people get to live on their own but still have structure and support from peers.


In this treatment, you usually attend group therapy on a regular basis. Depending on the program, therapy may be once, twice or more a week. Another form of outpatient treatment is individual therapy with a counselor. These forms of treatment are recommended for people who have been addiction free for some time.

Support groups

There are free support groups that help people with addictions. Some of these are called 12-step groups. They include, but are not limited to:

Other groups that aren’t affiliated with the 12 steps include:

  • Celebrate Recovery
  • SMART Recovery
  • Secular Sobriety

These groups are usually free to anyone with a problem. They can offer support for someone struggling with addiction. Because they’re peer groups, you can learn from the experiences of anyone in the group. You also gain a sense of community that can support you as you deal with your addiction.

Things to consider

There are a number of factors you will need to consider when choosing what type of addiction treatment is right for you. These include:

  • The severity of your addiction. If you struggle with your addiction every day, you may need residential treatment.
  • If you need to detox. Some substances are very difficult to stop, and medical detoxification is needed. These include alcohol and heroin. You’ll need to find out if the treatment option you are looking at involves detox.
  • If you have a co-occurring condition. These are mental or behavioral disorders that you deal with in addition to your addiction. These could include depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.
  • What you can afford. Medical insurance will usually cover some forms of addiction treatment. You need to find out what your insurance company will cover before you make your decision. If your insurance doesn’t cover the treatment you need, you’ll need to decide how much you can afford to spend. Some treatment programs are willing to work with you. They may offer discounts if you pay cash up-front. Some offer sliding scales. Some programs, like 12-step programs, are free.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • How severe is my addiction?
  • What kind of treatment will be best for me?
  • How long should I be in treatment?
  • Do I have any co-occurring conditions that I should be treated for, too?
  • Can you refer me to a treatment facility?


National Institute on Drug Abuse, Treatment

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator