Addiction: Know Your Health Care Team

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on May 27, 2023
3 min read

When you’re ready to get sober, you’ll find many people to help and support you. From your regular doctor to peer support groups, you’ll work with a variety of health care professionals and support teams to help you get and stay on track.

The kind of help and support you need is unique to you. Your needs will change as your recovery progresses. Your treatment team can make changes when needed.

Professionals you may work with during treatment and recovery include:

This may be the first person to help you in your recovery. They can screen you for alcohol or drug abuse. They may refer you to a treatment facility or provider for an in-depth assessment and to plan your next steps.

Your primary care doctor may continue to support you throughout your recovery. They will encourage you to stay with your treatment. Your doctor may also keep in touch with your addiction treatment team to see how you’re doing.

At the beginning of your recovery, you may meet with an addiction specialist. They’ll gather background information and assess where you are and what you need.

After your evaluation, they’ll work with you to create a personalized treatment plan based on your needs. Your treatment plan may include inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, medication management, support groups, and counseling. Your addiction specialist can also help your family and friends understand how to support you in your recovery.

If you’re admitted to an emergency room, you may work with doctors, nurses, and peer advocates. They can talk to you about what you’re experiencing and connect you with the right treatment.

Before you start a treatment program, you may need to detox from alcohol or drugs. The detox process removes addictive substances, like opiates or alcohol, from your body.

At your detox facility or hospital, you’ll work with a team of medical professionals who will help you detox safely. Withdrawal symptoms can make detox uncomfortable. Your detox team will treat your symptoms quickly to help you get and stay sober.

After detox, you may enter an inpatient rehabilitation program at a hospital or residential treatment facility. Here, you’ll have a team of medical professionals available to help you around the clock. Your team will set up a structured routine to help you have a clean and sober life. You might not need inpatient care. Intensive outpatient care for several weeks can help you build recovery skills and learn how to avoid relapse.

Your team may include doctors, nurse practitioners, addiction specialists, mental health counselors, social workers, and peer advocates.

Your doctor may give you medication to help with drug cravings. If you have an opioid addiction, you may be in a methadone program or medication-assisted treatment.

As part of your recovery, you’ll probably work with a mental health counselor who specializes in treating people with alcohol or drug dependency. You may have individual sessions and group therapy sessions.

The counselor will help you understand what’s behind your addiction. They can give you tools to manage life without turning to drugs or alcohol. They’ll help you build a support network so you can stay sober. They may work with your family and friends, too.

Your counselor may help you with practical things like getting a job and making concrete plans to create a better life.

Your treatment plan may include medication to help you stay clean. Some can help with cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

If you have an opioid addiction, your team may recommend medications like buprenorphine, naltrexone, and methadone. If you’re recovering from alcohol use disorder, they might recommend medications like acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone to curb drinking.

As part of your recovery, you may join an addiction support group or 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

These programs give you social support from people who are also in recovery. They share their stories, experiences, and wisdom to guide and support you through your own recovery. You may find new ways to manage drug and alcohol cravings, change old behaviors, and form healthy, drug-free relationships.

Recovery groups and programs can help you take what you accomplish in inpatient or outpatient treatment and keep it going.