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4 Types of Addiction Treatment You Need to Know

By Manjari Bansal, Kyle Kirkland
Whether you need a couple of weeks of treatment or to build a support system, there are treatment options that can help you through the struggles of addiction.

Deciding to seek treatment for substance use disorder is the first step to becoming free. But with so many different types of treatment out there, which one is the best for you? Here are four types of addiction treatment that you need to know. 

1. Long-Term Residential Treatment Programs

Long-term residential treatment involves care 24 hours a day and can last for months, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

“This can be 90-day treatment programs all the way up to 18-month residential therapeutic communities,” Rachel Parodneck, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

“This would be recommended for individuals who have significant impairments in their daily functioning and have become unable to hold typical responsibilities such as in school, work, or family. They would benefit most from being taken out of their environment, which is commonly a huge trigger for those struggling with severe addiction,” Parodneck says.

Long-term residential treatments are especially effective for people who may struggle with isolation due to substance use.

What is Considered Long-Term Treatment?

“Long-term treatment for substance abuse is generally at least 90-days of treatment at a residential treatment program, but many long-term programs encourage 6 to 12 months of treatment,” Aaron Sternlicht, LMHC, CASAC, a therapist and co-founder of Family Addiction Specialist in New York, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “Long-term inpatient treatment should also be followed by outpatient treatment for continuing care for up to 12 months or more.”

According to NIDA, a long-term residential program for substance abuse aims to provide round-the-clock care in non-hospital settings. One of the best residential treatment models is the therapeutic community (TC), which offers a planned duration of stay ranging between 6 to 12 months. 

TC treatment focuses on resocializing the patient and involving all the members of the community like residents and staff as active members in the treatment process. The treatment plan is highly coordinated, but it can be confrontational or aggressive at times. This is done to help the residents evaluate their negative thoughts, wrong self-beliefs, and damaging patterns of behavior and try to adopt more peaceful and productive ways to deal with others. 

“Long-term rehabilitation is designed to be residential in nature, where people live at a facility or group setting with around-the-clock care, rather than outpatient treatment,” James Pratty, MD, a Psychiatrist and Medical Director at Behavioral Health for Brand New Day, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

2. Short-Term Residential Treatment

“This type of treatment is often a 28-day treatment program and is recommended for someone with a mild addiction who can function normally. This type of treatment would be beneficial for people who are detoxing or changing medications in conjunction with detoxing,” Parodneck says.

Detoxing without proper medical assistance can be dangerous because you may want to use the substance again to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Detoxification centers are a medically-supervised facility that helps you manage the withdrawal symptoms when you stop using the substance. 

What is the Goal of Residential Treatment Programs?

“The goal of residential treatment programs is to safely detoxify someone from drugs and alcohol,” Mark Jaffe, MD, Psychiatrist at Westwind Recovery Los Angeles, tells WebMD Connect to Care. 

“Once that is accomplished, we stabilize them mentally, physically, and spiritually, try to heal relationships with loved ones, help them get time off if needed from work or school, motivate the person to want to stay sober, and provide them with a comprehensive aftercare program to address their needs once they leave residential treatment,” Jaffe says.

The residential program aims to “provide a stable environment where people can learn and practice coping skills,” Pratty says. “This is absolutely required because many times the individual has not learned healthy coping skills and has turned to a substance when stress becomes overwhelming. The other benefit that occurs from a residential treatment program is that the individual is now learning to become more self-sufficient and is learning to distance themselves from unhealthy individuals that in the past would have set them up to fall back into their addiction.” 

“While all residential treatment programs may vary in scope and specialty, the primary focus of treatment is on the restoration of mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing, as well as developing healthy habits and coping skills for maintaining abstinence and emotional regulation in a real-life setting,” Sternlicht adds.

3. Individualized Drug Treatment

Your situation is different than everyone else’s, and focusing on your environment will help medical professionals design the best program for you. According to the NIDA, individualized drug treatment has two approaches:

  1. Stopping the substance use

  2. Addressing any areas that have been affected by substance use, such as work or social relationships

The counselor helping you through recovery may involve resources for employment, medicine, or mental health to ensure you receive the treatment that will help you the most. 

What is the Most Effective Intervention for Substance Abuse?

There is no single standard treatment for substance abuse that is appropriate for everyone, states NIDA. 

“There are many different approaches to intervention and what may work well for one individual may not work well for another,” Sternlicht says. “Interventions and interventionists need to be selected on a case by case basis based upon various factors of the individual being intervened upon such as their personality, underlying mental health issues, history of substance abuse and treatment, and many other considerations.”

It is important to tailor the treatment processes, interventions, and services according to the person’s unique issues and requirements so that they can successfully return to productive functioning in their family, work, and society, NIDA notes. 

“First substance abuse treatment requires the individual to be removed from the drug or drugs of abuse,” Pratty says. “At times this requires a drug detoxification program, especially regarding substances such as alcohol, opiates, and benzodiazepines. At the same time that the individual is going through detoxification, the patient can start to work on issues that they will continue to deal with over the next months and years of their sobriety.”

“The interventions to bring this about include individual and group therapy in addition to medical management of comorbid issues including depression, anxiety, and mood swings. It is very common that a patient with a substance use disorder has neglected their medical health at the same time. Addressing issues such as hypertension, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and hyperlipidemia will bring about an overall improvement in the individual’s general health,” Pratty explains. 
“According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence approximately 90% of interventions are successful in getting an addicted individual into treatment when they are conducted by a professional interventionist,” Sternlicht says.

4. Group Therapy for Addiction

Group therapy is where you can go through therapy in a group setting surrounded by either loved ones or people going through the same struggles as you, according to American Addiction Centers.

“This type of treatment is particularly helpful for addiction and is a component of most addiction programs and has been for many years,” Joseph DeVasto, B.A. M.A. and Program Support Staff Lead at The Ohana Addiction Treatment Center, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

“It provides a safe environment in which a person can express their feelings and be vulnerable,” DeVasto says. 

Group therapy that involves loved ones can be a powerful force to help motivate you not to use those substances anymore. Also, if your group involves others going through treatment, you can bond with them through your shared experiences and support each other towards fully recovering from substance use disorder.

How Effective is Group Therapy for Substance Abuse?

According to Jaffe, group therapy is “extremely effective because it allows other addicts to relate and understand that there are other people just like them in the world.

“Group therapy is the most commonly used approach in substance abuse treatment in conjunction with individual counseling and family counseling,” Sternlicht says. “Group therapy is used frequently because it is cost-effective and efficient, but also because of the peer support, identification, modeling healthy behavior, accountability, confrontation, inspiration, and instillation of hope among other factors that stem from the group have been found to be a powerful therapeutic modality that can bring about impactful results in addiction recovery.” 


“According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, studies reflect that group therapy has brought about success rates comparable to individual therapy for substance use treatment in areas such as acceptance, retention, reductions in the frequency of use, abstinence, and psychological symptoms,” Sternlicht adds.

Don’t Wait. Get Help Now.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, WebMD Connect to Care Advisors are standing by to help.