Determining an appropriate substance abuse rehabilitation program is a daunting task. Rehabilitation programs can range from long-term care facilities to brief intervention counseling. Understanding the differences between the various levels of care can help you choose a program that is affordable and provides the quality of care necessary for recovery from addiction for the patient and the loved ones involved.

Residential Treatment

Residential treatment facilities are the most intensive level of care available. Patients live at the treatment facility for 30-90 days in an environment where they are able to focus on recovery with their full attention. They are given around-the-clock care that focuses on their unique needs while attending therapy and counseling sessions during the day. Residential treatment facilities are a valuable resource, not just for patients but for family as well. These centers provide education, family therapy and planning to prevent relapse after the patient has recovered.

Partial Hospitalization

Some patients may choose to live at home in order to be near loved ones during their treatment. Partial hospitalization programs allow patients to be with their family at night during their recovery while attending therapy during the day. Patients typically spend 3-5 days a week receiving treatment at the hospital. These programs offer several of the same options as residential treatment, but with less rigidity and more freedom. For someone with a strong support network in a nurturing environment partial hospitalization programs are a good fit.

Intensive Outpatient Programs

While recovering, one may have commitments to school or work. Intensive outpatient programs are a step down from partial hospitalization and focus on relapse prevention. A typical program may meet three times a week for 2-4 hours. The flexibility of an outpatient program allows one to schedule their sessions around their busy schedules in a way which works best for them. Outpatient programs are usually quite affordable for those who have less severe addictions and want to be close to their support network during their recovery.

Sober Living

Returning to a harmful environment can increase chances of relapse. Fortunately, there are options available for those who fear returning to a toxic life. Sober living houses are a safe and supportive environment in which a recovering addict can take the necessary time to acclimate after having completed a residential treatment program. Patients live with other reformed addicts while continuing to receive care. These options are available if the patient does not have a safe home to return to or they worry returning home will cause a relapse.


Continued care and attention to an addiction is the best prevention against recovering. Counseling, whether done individually, with a group or with family works best when used in tandem with other treatment options. Counseling helps the patient uncover the root cause of their addictions and teaches patients and family vital coping skills that can be used to prevent relapse. Patients also learn skills to repair relationships damaged by drug or alcohol addiction. Counseling is much less intensive; however, counselors are always available if needed in an emergency.

Brief Intervention

Brief intervention is a proactive and first-step treatment option designed for those who don’t yet have a substance abuse addiction but are susceptible to developing one. If one is worried they may succumb to drugs or alcohol, they may seek professional help for advice on their damaging effects as well as useful strategies they can use to prevent a future addiction from forming. These interventions are focused on curbing the user’s substance abuse with medically relevant information describing the damages that will be done to the body.