Treatment & Recovery | Drug and Alcohol Treatment Programs

Treatment and Recovery

Addiction is a complex, but treatable disorder. Research in the field of addiction and drug and alcohol treatment has led to the development of effective methods that can help people face and overcome addiction and continue living productive lives. This is referred to as being in recovery.

Learning more about treatment, recovery, and available programs will enable users to find adequate alcohol or drug treatment help and start their rehabilitation process.

What Is Drug and Alcohol Treatment?

Drug and alcohol treatment is intended to help people who are addicted stop compulsive drug/alcohol seeking. Treatment can come in many different forms, be conducted in different settings, and last for various periods of time. Since drug or alcohol dependency is generally a chronic disorder, short-term rehabilitation is typically not enough. Treatment is a lengthy process that often requires several types of care and monitoring.1

There are a multitude of evidence-based methods to addiction treatment. Treatment curricula within specialized programs may include behavioral therapy, medications, or their combination. The unique form of care or combination of treatment approaches will vary according to the individual needs of a patient.1

alcohol & drug treatment help, recovery & programs

Basic Drug & Alcohol Treatment Programs

While drug and alcohol treatment programs may vary depending on the patients’ needs and specific facility, some of the most commonly used options are:2

  • Outpatient treatment program that can vary in intensity, attendance frequency, and treatment methods used. It is relatively more affordable than residential treatment, but requires a more stable social and home environment.
  • Long-term treatment program for drug and alcohol abuse that entails treatment at a non-hospital setting and ongoing, 24/7 monitoring.
  • Short-term residential drug and alcohol treatment that is typically short, but intensive in nature.

Treatment and Recovery: What’s the Difference?

Treatment and recovery are related terms, but they are not the same. Generally, the process of going to a specialized center to deal with addiction is considered drug addiction treatment. Recovery encompasses other areas of life, such as mental, physical, and emotional health. Treatment is usually part of recovery, but recovery is not just treatment.3

What Is Recovery?

Recovery is generally defined as the process of becoming better from an illness or going back to a state of physical and mental health. In some alcohol and drug treatment programs, the term ‘in recovery’ defines those who participate in, or have finished, an abstinence-based treatment program, or those who participate in self-help groups.3

How Does Treatment Enhance Recovery?

Like other chronic diseases, drug and alcohol addiction treatment is usually not a cure. However, addiction can be successfully managed. Treatment allows people to counteract the adverse impacts of addiction on their brain and behavior and to gain back control over their lives.4

When treating opioid addictions, drugs are often the first course of treatment, usually in combination with some form of behavioral therapy or counseling. Medications are also available to help treat addiction and withdrawal symptoms.5

After the initial detox, behavioral therapies assist individuals in addiction treatment to change their behavior in relation to drug use. As a result, patients are able to cope with stressful situations and numerous triggers that could cause a relapse. Behavioral therapies can also improve the efficacy of medications and help people stay longer in treatment.4

How Does Residential Treatment Help With Recovery and Relapse

Residential programs can provide patients with a structured, safe environment while also allowing them to work on recovery in a setting in which there are others who fully understand what they’re going through. Treatment residences tend to be peaceful, safe, and accommodating, where each person is able to keep working on their recovery while being surrounded by those who are equally committed to a life of sobriety.

Residential programs are especially useful for people who are still struggling with substance use disorders because they can concentrate on abstinence without any external distractions. Patients may be encouraged to plan their lives after their stay, acknowledging that recovery is a constant process.



Frequently Asked Questions

  • The recovery and rehabilitation process is unique to each patient and their changing needs. However, some patients may go through the following stages of recovery while participating in drug and alcohol treatment programs.6

    Early Treatment Phase

    During this stage, patients may be emotionally fragile, conflicted about giving up drugs, and resistant to care. Therefore, therapeutic methods concentrate on urgent concerns: achieving abstinence, avoiding relapse, and handling cravings.

    Middle Treatment Phase

    This stage may also be referred to as an action stage of treatment. With group and counselors’ support, patients gain a deeper understanding of their addiction and the issues it causes. During this recovery stage, individuals may also need support dealing with their emotions, acquiring new habits, and breaking the addiction cycle.

    Late Treatment Phase

    In the late stage of treatment, individuals spend more time resolving their issues, identifying potential setbacks, facing the feelings of shame and guilt, and building a more positive image of themselves.

  • Different people go at different paces through their addiction therapy and recovery process. Generally speaking, for residential or outpatient treatment, participation for less than 90 days is of small efficacy and treatment for a longer time period is recommended for positive outcomes.7

    Rehab treatment program lengths include, but are not limited to:7

    • 28-30 days.
    • 60 days.
    • 90 days.
    • Long-term recovery (90-120 days and beyond).

    The actual amount of time patients spend in treatment will depend on a variety of things:5

    • Severity of addiction.
    • Need for detox.
    • Insurance and ability to pay.
    • Medical/mental health issues that need treating.

  • It is highly important that you choose a treatment facility that can help you achieve your rehabilitation goals. Before you can do that, you need to define your goals and a long-term plan. Consulting with a recovery specialist is the best way to find out just what your drug and alcohol treatment options are and choose a facility that suits your goals and needs.

    Treatment professionals are acquainted with many aspects of rehabilitation, know what type of facility may suit you, and can offer additional useful resources. These professionals will help you get in touch with the right rehabilitation center and provide you with adequate alcohol or drug treatment help.



1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). What is drug addiction treatment?

2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Types of Treatment Programs

3. National Centre for Biotechnology information Substance Abuse Treatment for Persons With Co-Occurring Disorders.

4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Treatment and Recovery

5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction DrugFacts

6. National Centre for Biotechnology information Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy.

7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)

8. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). How long does drug addiction treatment usually last?