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The Substance Abuse Continuum of Care

People looking for the best intervention in treating chemical dependency some times don’t know where to start.  In an effort to clarify the process this is a brief description of the continuum of care from Detox to AA/NA.  Some folks start at different points in the continuum.  Skilled counselors should help you find the right place for you as you progress in your recovery.

Detox is an acute inpatient medical procedure to make withdrawal safe and comfortable.  Detox is usually reserved for substances, which have dangerous or serious withdrawal symptoms like alcohol, benzodiazepines (Xanex, Klonopine and Valium), opiates and heroin.  Most detoxes introduce their clients to the concept of 12-step recovery and encourage additional substance abuse treatment.

Rehab is a sub-acute inpatient procedure for folks who may have difficulty staying clean for 1 day and requires significant substance abuse/recovery education.  Rehabs spend time learning in-depth issues that may present barriers to long-term sobriety for folks and develop sophisticated treatment plans to address those barriers.

IOP is for folks who can stretch 3 days of clean time between support groups.  Folks in IOP learn to identify triggers and begin to accept consequences of their addiction.  Folks continue to target barriers to recovery and develop a relapse prevention plan.  Folks should also begin to integrate into the recovering community by going to AA/NA, getting a sponsor and a home group.

Recovery Support/ Aftercare Groups are for folks who having completed these primary treatment programs want to maintain their momentum in a new sober lifestyle.  Recovery Support/Aftercare help folks continue to strengthen relapse prevention plans and address any new or emerging issues that may threaten sobriety.

Individual and Family Therapy addresses specific issues beyond the group experience.  Family therapy helps address issues specific to the individual and his or her loved ones.  Family groups educate loved ones on how best to support folks in early recovery,  address their own needs and learn from others they are not alone.  Go to Alanon or Naranon if you really want to make this work.

AA/NA is where recovery really happens.  The recovering community is where folks build relationships with others that support continued sobriety.  Folks get a sponsor to help guide them through the steps an often make the difference between recovery and relapse.  Find a Home Group to build a recovery core of people who you can rely on to be there for you when you need them most.  All of these people in the recovering community help folks (like you) learn how to “practice these principles in all our affairs”.

Scott M. Banford, LCSW