There are a wide variety of evidence-based approaches for treating a substance use disorder (SUD), including behavioral therapies and medications. 

Because they address different aspects of SUDs, the combination of behavioral therapies and medications tend to be more effective than either approach used alone.

Of these evidence-based approaches, there is no “one-size-fits-all” option. Treatment plans should be tailored to the unique needs of the patient by their care provider and will vary depending on the types of substances used, any co-occurring health conditions, and the severity of their illness.

Types of treatment include:

  • Hospital/Residential Programs

    Long term live-in treatment facility, often called a “rehab;” different from inpatient treatment, and may carry a different license. Also different from sober living/transitional housing.
  • Partial Hospitalization Programs

    A treatment intensity between inpatient and outpatient. The patient lives at home and commutes to a facility to receive 20 or more hours of service a week.
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs

    9 or more hours of service a week for adults; 6 or more hours for adolescents in treatment. Does not require residing/sleeping in a clinical setting.
  • Outpatient Programs

    Outpatient means that the procedure or treatment does not involve inpatient/residential admission and may be performed in a clinic setting.
  • Detoxification (this should always be followed by ongoing treatment)

    During detoxification, the body goes through physical withdrawal from an addictive substance. A detox program may offer medical supervision and/or medications for this process.
  • Opioid Treatment Programs

    A program certified by SAMHSA to provide assessments and MAT for opioid addiction. Patients must visit the clinic each day to receive their medication.
  • Office-Based Opioid Treatment

  • Individual Counseling

Substance use disorders can range from mild to severe and, like other illnesses, they can worsen over time. As the disease progresses, overall health tends to worsen and the risk of death increases, which is why the earlier a person is treated, the better. Doctors determine the severity level of to help develop the best treatment plan. The higher the severity, the more intensive the level of treatment is needed. Patients with severe SUDs are likely to need ongoing treatment using a chronic care model for several years.

As the patient progresses through treatment, they transition to lower levels of care. Progress should be continually monitored so that the level of treatment can be adapted as needed. Research has shown that the longer a patient receives treatment, the better the chance of long-term recovery. Ongoing monitoring and wrap-around recovery services ensure that a patient can be re-engaged with treatment should symptoms return.

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