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Navigating the Addiction Treatment Process

By Jackie Daniels
Published On February 10, 2021 | Last Updated On February 10, 2021

Navigating the Addiction Treatment Process

By Jackie Daniels
Published On February 10, 2021 | Last Updated On February 10, 2021
Navigating the addiction treatment process can be daunting. You can hear terms like intake, inpatient, outpatient, treatment, admissions, and transitions and they may not make sense to you and that’s ok. We are here to help you through this process. Understand the Urgency The first step is acknowledging the need for help. When someone asks […]

Navigating the addiction treatment process can be daunting. You can hear terms like intake, inpatient, outpatient, treatment, admissions, and transitions and they may not make sense to you and that’s ok. We are here to help you through this process.

Understand the Urgency

The first step is acknowledging the need for help. When someone asks for help, there is a sense of urgency that should be implied.  Especially in relation to addiction. It is important to act quickly and efficiently. When someone begins to experience withdrawal symptoms, the desperation level increases as they begin to crave drugs. The first step is to get them into detox where they can break their dependence on alcohol or substances safely and comfortably, as detoxing alone can be painful. As cravings develop, the desire to change may lessen. This is not a reflection of weakness or resistance, but the result of addiction’s grip on their brain, and plummeting dopamine levels. Spend time researching treatment now so you are prepared for the moment help is requested.

Treatment Setting


Inpatient or “residential” treatment is best for those that will require a safe medical detox from substances or those that have co-occurring psychiatric or medical conditions that require monitoring during the withdrawal phase. This is also the best option for someone that has attempted to stop in their home environment but has not been successful.

According to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) treatment should last at least 3 to 12 months, and the inpatient setting is most effective at the beginning of the process.


Outpatient services typically follow inpatient treatment and can last anywhere from two months to one year. The outpatient setting is preferred once detoxification and stabilization have been completed, and a solid foundation has been established. The foundation should include medication management and stabilization of psychiatric symptoms, support, new coping mechanisms, gainful employment, and sober housing.  


If you are having difficulty selecting a treatment provider, and setting, consider contacting an admissions office directly. The Indiana Center for Recovery offers 24/7 access to admissions consultants, 365 days a year.  Picking up the phone and calling to ask questions is a good start!

Below is a list of questions you may choose to ask an admissions consultant:

  1. What insurance or methods of payment do you accept?
  2. What licenses, certifications, or accreditation does the program hold?
  3. What is the staff to patient ratio?
  4. What is the length of time until a bed is available for me or my loved one?
  5. Do you offer any specialized services?
  6. What amenities do you offer, if any?
  7. What should we pack?
  8. Do you offer transportation assistance?

The admissions department will assist you in determining eligibility through your insurance provider, and the date of admission. They may follow-up with phone calls to ensure you’re on the right track for admission and to offer support, like a personal cheerleader rooting you on your path to recovery.


Once you have asked your questions and investigated financing, packed belongings, and squared away transportation, the intake is the next step.

The intake process is the first step after admission and involves administrative paperwork, drug testing, and assessment by medical and clinical staff. It will take place as soon as someone arrives at the treatment center. The intake process is designed to screen and assign patients to the appropriate level of care based on their unique needs. Testing typically occurs by urine and breath analysis to determine the scope of substance use and to anticipate any complications. A full search of personal items should also take place to ensure the safety of the patient and the treatment community.

In addition, Intake personnel explores to determine any special conditions that should be considered during treatment, such as cultural, ethnic, and spiritual factors that are important to the client or their family. Dietary preferences, allergies, and other special considerations will also be collected and reported to the appropriate staff member to make your stay as comfortable as possible.


This phase is the blueprint for change. While in treatment, individual and group therapy take place alongside continued visits with medical and nursing staff to monitor medical and psychiatric conditions. Members of the treatment team will address ongoing needs and continue to assess the patient.

A primary therapist will be assigned and will work with an interdisciplinary team and the client to generate a treatment plan. The treatment plan will act as a roadmap and measure progress. Change is not always linear, and the treatment plan can be updated as needed and mandated by state law, typically every 2 weeks to 30 days.

Common modalities included in treatment:

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  2. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) - a specialized trauma treatment provided by highly trained professionals
  3. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  4. Relapse Prevention
  5. Mindfulness and Meditation
  6. Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT)
  7. Motivational Enhancement Strategies
  8. Family Therapy
  9. Matrix Model
  10. Psychoeducation
  11. Twelve-Step Facilitation (not to be confused with 12-step programs)

And more!


As a patient makes progress in the treatment program, transitions should occur. This typically appears when a less intensive program recommendation is made by treatment staff. For example, the transition from residential care to partial hospitalization.  Residential care is a more intensive setting, with 24-hour monitoring to ensure stabilization of withdrawal symptoms.  Partial hospitalization (PHP) is less intense but equally as challenging.  

Transitions between levels of care are based on treatment progress and individual assessment.   The final transition is to aftercare, or beyond outpatient treatment to include recovery support services (therapy, recovery coaching, or medication management). Aftercare is often called “continuing care” and is a plan designed to assist in a patient’s recovery after treatment.  The final discharge process from a treatment program entails a successful completion ceremony or graduation, and administrative processes like signing a formal discharge document, collecting medication refills, and moving to transitional housing. 

By the time someone is preparing for discharge from outpatient care and is creating a continuing care plan, they should:

  1. Not experience any acute withdrawal symptoms and be able to tolerate post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) with little assistance.
  2. Be able to cope with medical conditions, taking medications as directed with plans to see a primary care physician for follow-up care.
  3. Be stable in relation to co-occurring mental health conditions, have developed a routine to manage and cope with symptoms, and are willing to take medications as prescribed.
  4. Is aware of, admits to, and accepts their substance use disorder while addressing personal recovery independently.
  5. Has a firmly identified relapse prevention plan and is willing to take daily steps to mitigate the risk of relapse.
  6. Has a stable living environment and is employed or volunteering.

Often, when the physical symptoms of withdrawal are gone and the patient has been removed from their daily stressors, they feel better which creates a risk of leaving treatment prematurely as they feel “cured” or improved.  While this is something to take into consideration, if real progress or change has not occurred, leaving treatment can have detrimental consequences.  By all means, speak to a therapist or treatment consultant before allowing a loved one to leave treatment against staff advice. Physical recovery from withdrawal symptoms is not the end of the road and is only the beginning.

Life after Treatment

The treatment team of Indiana Center for Recovery understands that leaving treatment will include an adjustment period and we offer ongoing care, at no cost to you. The alumni staff are available 24/7 after discharge and will serve as your personal cheerleaders with encouragement and direct advice when needed.  Alumni staff can point you in the right direction for ongoing support and access to recovery resources across the country.

No Cookie-Cutter Programs

Treatment programs are not one-size-fits-all. Each program offers something different, which can make the search confusing and tedious. Make a list of the features that appeal to you before making your selection.

At Indiana Center for Recovery, we’ve done our homework. We offer individualized care and features most requested in treatment programs, along with cutting edge approaches meant to support sustainable recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction. We offer features like private rooms, trauma-informed treatment, and sober living options with outpatient care following the immersion of detox and residential treatment. 

We’re available 24 hours a day to answer your questions and respond to your concerns. We offer a full continuum of care, from detox to outpatient services, to help create a sustainable recovery.

Help is Available 24/7

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