What is Drug Rehab?

Drug rehabilitation is a general term used to describe residential and outpatient addiction treatment programs designed to help individuals overcome drug addiction. The best programs successfully address addiction to many substances, including prescription medications (such as Vicodin or OxyContin), recreational drugs (such as cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamines), and alcohol.

Drug addiction can destroy individuals and families and result in serious social, financial, legal, and physical consequences. Drug rehabilitation can help stop the damaging cycle of addiction.

Key components

The most effective rehabilitation programs are those that are comprehensive in nature and address the multiple needs of addicts, not just the drug abuse. There are several key components to top rehab programs:

Overview of drug rehabilitation

There are many different approaches to drug rehabilitation, including inpatient programs, outpatient programs, 12-step programs, sober houses, and more, but they all share a common theme—it is imperative to address both the physical and the psychological addictions associated with drug abuse. It is most helpful when a drug rehab includes a multi-disciplinary team that can evaluate, assess and treat the drug addiction while also addressing the other presenting problems of the patient.  It can take weeks, months, or even years to recover from drug addiction. Drug rehabilitation helps to unravel the complicated and vicious cycles related to abuse so that addicts can overcome physical addiction and address the compulsive patterns that drive their behavior.

The Drug Epidemic in America

From abuse of prescription medications to experimentation with street drugs, drug use continues to rise across the nation. In fact, according to statistics gathered by the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, nearly 13 million Americans – accounting for roughly six percent of the US population – have used illegal drugs within the last month alone.

In contrast to popular depictions of drug addiction that focus on isolated populations, the following facts underscore the reality of the drug pandemic across the country currently reaching across age, gender and social boundaries.

Finding Programs

Alta Mira Rehab

Types of top facilities

Drug rehab facilities come in a variety of forms and offer a diverse mix of services, treatment methods, philosophies, specialties and amenities. Facilities are typically classified as either short-term residential, long-term residential or outpatient. In addition, some facilities specialize in medically assisted detoxification, offering their services in an inpatient or outpatient environment.

Locating drug treatment programs

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) maintains a an updated online directory of licensed drug rehab facilities, as well as a separate list of programs and physicians authorized to treat opioid withdrawal with buprenorphine. Click here to view programs by state and zip code. Additionally, the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry offers an online physician-locator tool at www.aaap.org.

Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a branch of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, maintains an updated list of drug rehabilitation centers. The Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator lists only private and public facilities that are “licensed, certified, or otherwise approved for inclusion by their state substance abuse agency.”

Locator listings include (but are not limited to) treatment programs for cocaine, alcohol, benzos, methamphetamine, stimulants and heroin addiction, and consist of programs for adolescents and adults. Most of the resources listed are able to treat a wide variety of substance use disorders, although some specialize in the treatment of specific substance addictions. For those suffering from heroin or other opioid addiction, SAMHSA offers a separate locator tool that lists physicians and treatment programs authorized to prescribe buprenorphine (trade names include Suboxone and Subutex), a controlled substance used to treat physical dependence and address opioid-withdrawal symptoms.

Each month new facilities are added based on facility responses to SAMHSA’s National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services. (The website’s design may look dated, but the content is not.) While the facilities listed in the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator meet certain regulatory criteria, SAMHSA makes clear that inclusion is not an endorsement or referral. The locator is intended for informational purposes only. With thousands of drug rehabilitation centers in operation, we suggest using the locator as an early-stage filtering device to collect basic information with which to conduct further research into a facility or program. The surest way to find out if a treatment center is the right fit for you or your loved one is to talk directly with a representative from the facility.

Program length and aftercare

A large body of research points to a strong connection between length of treatment and strength of recovery. Because addiction is a chronic and progressive illness, short-term treatment is typically insufficient. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, relapse rates for drug addiction mirror those of other chronic diseases (such as diabetes and asthma). Studies show that long-term, intensive treatment followed by regular monitoring is the surest path to a sustainable recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. So, when comparing programs, pay close attention to their length of stay and respective aftercare services. Look for comprehensiveness and cost. (Many facilities offer free continuing care to those who successfully complete residential treatment.)

Finding the right fit

The best treatment facilities in the world provide a combination of therapies, medications and ancillary services to meet an individual’s unique needs and circumstances. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment, nor is there one drug rehab facility that will work for everyone. To make sure that a facility meets your particular needs—or your loved one’s—we strongly suggest calling prospective facilities directly, gathering information and carefully weighing each program. For help evaluating drug rehab facilities, we invite you to download our free (no opt-in required) rehab comparison guide. Elements to consider include:

Elements to Consider
  • Aftercare/continuing care services
  • Degree of treatment personalization
  • Treatment philosophy (12-step? Other?)
  • Extent of family and support system involvement
  • Facility location and amenities
  • Evidence-based modalities used (CBT, DBT, MBRP, etc.)

Choosing a Rehab Center

Choosing an addiction treatment center is an important decision that requires thought, time and care. No two addictions are alike, and there is no one-size-fits-all program or treatment philosophy. It’s essential to take the time to identify your key needs and specific challenges and carefully screen prospective facilities before making a decision.

Evaluating drug rehabs: Key criteria

There are many ways to evaluate a treatment facility. To make things simpler, we’ve singled out the following areas:

Onsite detox – In cases of severe physical dependence, individuals may need to start the rehabilitation process with a period (indefinite in certain cases of opiate dependence) of medically assisted detoxification. This is a delicate process that should, for the sake of the individual’s comfort and safety, be done onsite in an inpatient facility. It is also recommended that medical staff is certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Personalized care – No two people are alike, and the same goes for addiction. It’s not surprising, then, that there is no silver bullet treatment protocol. What is highly efficacious for one person may prove useless for another, so it’s essential for drug rehab programs to have the necessary resources available to offer tailored treatment programs that can meet the needs and unique circumstances of each individual. Comprehensive, progressive clinical and medical assessments combined with sophisticated psychological testing can lead to better diagnosis and treatment.

Individual attention – One of the most potent treatments of addiction is what’s known as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of one-on-one talk therapy that explores negative thought processes and how they drive destructive behavior. To fully reap the benefits of this proven treatment method, patients must be given a significant amount of individual attention. When comparing drug rehabs, look for information about one-on-one care and ask, if the information is not readily available, how many private therapy sessions the facility offers clients each week.

Family involvementAll too often, drug rehabs sequester their clients from their families and key supporters, even leaving referring professionals, who typically have valuable insight into their patients’ condition, in the dark. The best drug rehabs, on the other hand, will marshal every resource at their disposal, integrating family members, close friends, referring professionals and mentors into the admission, treatment and discharge processes.

Relapse prevention/aftercare – Inpatient drug rehab is but the first stage of recovery from addiction, and recovery, in turn, lasts a lifetime. As with other chronic diseases, the threat of relapse is a perennial concern for anyone with a history of drug or alcohol addiction. When comparing drug rehabs, be sure to pay close attention to relapse prevention and continuing care services.

The Residential Drug Treatment Advantage

Drug treatment falls into two general categories – inpatient residential programs that provide intensive, holistic care and outpatient programs that provide drug recovery support for a dedicated number of hours per week. While outpatient programs can provide a stepping stone to recovery for those who have developed drug dependencies, individuals with severe, long-term or recurrent drug addictions generally require a residential treatment stay in order to achieve sobriety. Residential drug treatment programs provide the following advantages to their clients:

Extended Sober Living Environment

One of the most obvious advantages to the residential treatment environment is the establishment of a sober living setting. Patients learn to live, relate and function in a drug-free atmosphere. Additionally, the continuously supportive environment residential treatment programs provide set the stage for thorough therapy during comprehensive stays enduring 30, 60, 90 days or more, depending on the needs of the client and the recommendation of the treatment team.

Physical and Psychological Diagnostic Testing

Upon intake, patients are assessed on a variety of levels for secondary conditions that may require treatment, healing or resolution during their recovery stays. Medical testing helps to identify health conditions that may have arisen from prolonged periods of drug abuse, such as respiratory issues, heart problems, recurrent infections or the presence of communicable diseases. Psychological testing can be pivotal in the treatment process, spotlighting mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and personality, mood or dissociative disorders that may contribute to – or have resulted from – drug use and addiction itself. Drug testing may also be performed to allow for treatment tailored to drugs of choice. Personalized treatment plans are created by residential treatment centers in order to address during treatment any secondary issues that have emerged in the diagnostic process to promote physical and psychological healing.

Inpatient Detoxification Process

The physical addiction to drugs becomes broken with prolonged abstinence, achieved in a process known as “drug detox.” Two of the most common – and powerful – hurdles to successful detoxification include drug withdrawal symptoms and continual drug cravings. With on-site facilities, staff at inpatient detoxification centers can provide titrated medications, medical supervision, and psychological support to ensure the body recovers as safely and comfortably as possible.

Intensive Psychotherapy

Because addiction often has a strong psychological component in nature, residential drug rehab programs provide intensive individual and group psychotherapy for patients. Partnering with a clinical therapist, patients explore and identify emotional reasons for drug dependency, triggers for use, and negative self-beliefs. Patients learn to challenge destructive thought patterns and beliefs, replacing them with positive coping mechanisms.

Life Skills Training

In the course of prolonged drug addictions, many addicted individuals simply have not acquired the life skills necessary to thrive amid sobriety. Residential treatment centers can provide life coaching, sober coaching, process groups, stress tolerance workshops, anger management techniques, time management training, and organizational guidance in order to help place recovering drug addicts on the road to successful, sober living.

Peer Support and Camaraderie

Another advantage of residential treatment comes from relational experiences with other peers overcoming addiction. Residents participate in 12-step meetings, group therapy sessions and therapeutic exercises and outings together, providing vital communication, empathy and exchange of ideas. Select facilities also provide bonding experiences such as group sports, natural excursions and peer buddies, dedicated to helping newer patients through the treatment process.

Pathways to Physical Healing

Residential drug treatment also provides strengthening and healing for the body during recovery. Patients benefit from nutritional programs, fitness training, natural remedies, and healing holistic techniques such as yoga, Pilates, acupuncture and massage. Damage from years of drug abuse can begin to resolve, using a blend of alternative therapies and modern medicine. Some residential programs also provide pain management therapies such as visualization, meditation, and biofeedback.

12-Step Program Participation

As a complement to the therapy provided at residential drug programs, patients participate in 12-step meetings, learning the steps and traditions of recovery. Twelve-step involvement helps to foster communication, personal responsibility and accountability in residents, while introducing them to a social support system they can continue to benefit from when they graduate.  Peer support groups not only help patients connect, they also provide individuals new in recovery with a group of friends who are focused on living without drugs and alcohol.

Transitional Guidance and Follow-up Programs

Patients need specific planning and ongoing support to overcome transitional obstacles and reinforce their commitment to sobriety. Transitional guidance identifies – and plans for – obstacles that addicts may meet along the way as they return to their lives back home. Teaming with therapists, patients make adjustments in environmental, relational and occupational factors to create an atmosphere conducive to continued sobriety. Aftercare services provide ongoing check-ins, alumni reunions and events, and other resources to provide sustained accountability, encouragement and sober networking.

The Role of Dual Diagnosis in Drug Treatment

Residential drug treatment programs also offer mental health support for those who may endure psychological struggles. Often fueling drug use through self-medication, dual diagnosis conditions can also arise as the result of drug abuse. Ranging from schizophrenia to mood, anxiety, personality and dissociative disorders, dual diagnosis cases can be effectively treated at inpatient facilities using a combination of medication, psychological testing and psychotherapy. The single biggest contributor to relapse in dual diagnosis patients is non-compliance with psychiatric medications.  Treatment of both the drug addiction and the co-occurring mental health condition occur simultaneously, for maximum effect.

Alta Mira in San Francisco CA

Drug Rehab at Alta Mira

Medically-assisted detoxification
At Alta Mira, we contract with licensed medical providers to provide the most current and effective medical and clinical support for our clients that experience withdrawal symptoms caused from physical and psychological dependence. We take withdrawal seriously and make every effort to reduce the pain and discomfort that can follow the decision to get sober. Our ASAM-certified addiction psychiatrist and internist provide appropriate medication-assisted detoxification and treatment for co-occurring mental health and medical issues.

Dual diagnosis treatment
People who are addicted to drugs and alcohol often suffer from other physical and mental health issues that should be addressed concurrently. The diagnosis and treatment of co-occurring disorder is particularly important because the presence of unresolved problems may stand in the way of effective addiction treatment and/or increase the likelihood of subsequent relapse. Our full-time neuro-psychologist provides helpful additional input in getting to accurate diagnoses and effective treatment.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy
This treatment method that gives clients the ability to identify, avoid and handle situations in which they are likely to relapse. This type of therapy helps clients develop healthy behaviors and safe coping strategies. Most importantly, cognitive-behavioral therapy involves identifying negative core beliefs about one. Rehab patients often use drugs and alcohol to lessen or numb the pain caused by such negative thoughts. Addressing these thoughts and the pain they cause is an integral part of reducing the underlying ‘need’ for the substance and the fleeting relief it provides.

Family involvement and support-group involvement
Drug addictions don’t exist in a vacuum, which is why family and support-group involvement is one of the most important factors in a successful treatment experience and long-term recovery. With the client’s permission, we integrate family members, therapists and close friends into our treatment and discharge plans. Patients do better when their family, therapist, physician and support group are all integrated into their treatment experience.

Lifetime continuing care
We make a lifetime commitment to our clients regardless of how long they are in residence at Alta Mira. Our lifetime continuing care includes regular tune-ups, monthly follow-up phone calls for as long as clients like, and membership in the Alta Mira Alumni Group, which meets monthly at our Sausalito location. Alumni also get to participate in our annual alumni reunion.

Contact Alta Mira today
If you or someone you care about suffers from drug addiction, please contact us to learn more about our drug rehab services. Please call our admissions department at 866-922-1350 to set up a free, confidential consultation.

Call 866-922-1350 now. We can help!

Drew PaxtonAbout Drew Paxton

Drew Paxton is the Executive Director of Alta Mira Recovery Programs. His experience in the technology and recovery industries spans over three decades. | LinkedIn