Exploring the Different Levels of Addiction Treatment Programs

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When you make the commitment to get sober, the next step is to select a treatment facility that meets your needs. Each treatment center is unique, as they are independently run and follow their own set of principles. However, you will notice that most rehabilitation programs offer similar levels of care, such as inpatient or outpatient.

Understanding the various levels of care can help you make an informed decision. The treatment facility you choose will also conduct a full assessment to ensure that you are receiving the appropriate level of care. Some of the factors that will be taken into consideration are the severity of your addiction, your drug of choice and the presence of a co-occurring condition.

Below is a brief overview of the various levels of care in addiction treatment. To learn more about these programs, contact Spearhead Health at 310-561-1704.


Detox is the first step in the recovery journey. It involves stabilizing the body by removing drugs, alcohol and toxins. Some treatment centers offer detox services on-site, while others will provide you with a referral.

Typically, individuals spend about one week in detox. During this time, you are monitored to ensure your safety and comfort. While withdrawal symptoms are not pleasant, they can be managed using various medications.

If you feel more comfortable detoxing at home, this can be an option as well. However, we do not recommend detoxing alone. There are options to detox in your home under the care of nurses, care managers and board-certified addiction medicine doctors.

Residential/Inpatient Treatment (Medium to High Intensity)

Depending on the severity of your addiction, your care team may recommend transitioning to residential or inpatient treatment following detox. These two levels of care offer similar services with a few key differences.

For example, many rehabs describe inpatient treatment as being more clinic-like, with 24-hour care and medical attention. Residential treatment, on the other hand, is often described as being more home-like, with voluntary live-in options where individuals receive therapy and medication.

Both residential and inpatient treatment provide temporary housing accommodations in addition to treatment services. This is why these programs come highly recommended for individuals who need a supportive setting away from their triggers, as well as those with co-occurring disorders and/or a high risk for relapse.

Partial Hospitalization with Housing (Medium to High Intensity)

Another option that provides a high level of care is a partial hospitalization program (PHP). Some PHPs run on an outpatient basis, while others provide housing accommodations. This is a great option for those who need more structure and support.

PHPs provide a similar level of care as residential/inpatient treatment, though with less monitoring and the potential to live at home. You can expect to spend at least 20 hours a week in treatment. Partial hospitalization is also equipped to treat co-occurring mood disorders and related trauma.

Intensive Outpatient (Medium to High Intensity)

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is a step down from partial hospitalization. Most of these programs require you to be in therapy five days a week for several hours a day. You will participate in therapy and be able to apply the skills you are learning in your everyday life.

In an IOP, you’re already stabilized, so the goal is to help you build new coping skills and healthier behaviors. You’ll have access to a wide range of therapies, such as individual and group therapy, along with a safe environment, peer support and aftercare planning.

Outpatient (Medium to Low Intensity)

Outpatient programs are extremely flexible, with some only requiring a few hours of therapy each week. The benefit to outpatient treatment is that it’s affordable and convenient, allowing you to carry on your duties at home or work while still having access to support services.

Because of the support that outpatient treatment provides, some people stay in these programs indefinitely. Many outpatient programs follow the 12 Steps, though not all do. However, research shows that joining a fellowship can substantially increase a person’s chances for success, so it’s smart to keep an open mind.

Explore the Various Levels of Care for Treating Substance Use

Recovery is a lifelong journey, which means you will always have to put your sobriety first. You may find the need to participate in some type of therapy or AA/NA group to keep your motivation up and hold yourself accountable.

But, remember that there are different levels of treatment available. If you relapse, for example, you don’t necessarily need to start back at residential treatment. You may be able to move into an IOP that allows you to maintain much of your normal schedule.

To discuss your current situation and what level of care is right for you, contact Spearhead Health at 310-561-1704. We can align you with the right services for your needs while also considering facts like cost, accessibility and convenience.