Addiction disorders can be very difficult to deal with, considering unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and cravings that can last for months and pop up years later. However, anyone can live a normal life after addiction and stay on the road to recovery with the right kind of help. There are many options for addiction treatment centers across the US and in other countries, and new forms of treatment are being researched and approved all the time. Increased access to healthcare services and health insurance are making affordable treatment even more readily available. This is good news, as there are currently 23.5 million people age 12 and up in the US who are in need of addiction treatment, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Once an addiction disorder is suspected, it’s important to get into treatment as soon as possible. Addiction becomes worse and more difficult to treat over time, but if treatment begins early, it’s much easier to handle and the chances of future relapse decrease. People may delay treatment because they believe they can handle getting sober themselves or might be ashamed to admit to others that they are addicted to a substance. Addiction still carries heavy stigma, but medical professionals understand that it’s a mental illness, not a failure of character or willpower. Addiction specialists in particular are trained to be sensitive and supportive, not judgmental.

Most or all of these worries can be alleviated by researching addiction treatment programs. Many people think of treatment as being a certain way without flexibility. They may think all addiction treatment is residential rehab like they have seen in the media. However, a good treatment center will have many options and assistance programs, so it can help as many different people in as many different situations as possible.

Treatment Options


The most effective treatment program will be one that fits well into the person’s life.

Many people have jobs and children that they cannot leave for several weeks to stay in a rehab facility. For that reason, most treatment centers will have outpatient program options. In outpatient treatment, the person comes into the center for a set number of visits per week in order to receive counseling, go to support group meetings, attend workshops, and participate in any and all the aspects of treatment one would receive in an inpatient program. That way clients can schedule work, school, and/or childcare around their appointments, still leading a relatively normal life. The only difference is that most of these programs will require regular drug tests.

For certain types of drug, particularly opioids, medicated treatment is an option. Medications like methadone and buprenorphine have been developed to directly treat opioid addiction by reducing or eliminating withdrawal symptoms and cravings. These medications are opioids themselves, but they don’t produce nearly the same kind of high as opioids like heroin or prescription painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet. This significantly reduces the potential for abuse by those already addicted to opioid drugs, as they won’t experience euphoria from either methadone or buprenorphine. According to the California Society of Addiction Medicine, treatment with methadone has a 60-90 percent success rate.

An addicted person can therefore be switched to one of these medications and then slowly weaned off it under the supervision of a doctor. Severely addicted persons may be given the option to stay on methadone or buprenorphine on a long-term basis in some treatment centers, but this practice is somewhat controversial.

psychiatrist with patient

Methadone has been used to treat opioid addiction for decades, but its high potential for overdose means that it has been highly restricted. It can only be dispensed at special treatment centers by medical professionals with specific training and clearance. This can create a serious burden for clients as they must travel to the center on a daily basis to receive their dose. Buprenorphine was developed to have a low potential for overdose so that addicted individuals can get a set number of doses from a pharmacy and take them home to self-administer, which is much more convenient.

Many treatment programs are based on the principles of the 12-Step movement. Some use the classic religious model and others offer a similar, secular model that is designed to be as inclusive as possible. The program may end once the steps have been completed. Other treatment centers may use a more flexible and organic process, utilizing group or individual therapy and general support group meetings for a set number of weeks or until clients feel as though they can move on to less intense treatment.

What Makes for a Good Treatment Program?


The most important thing to look for in an addiction treatment program is whether or not it works for you – whether it lines up with your goals and beliefs, can accommodate your life situation, and be something you can continue with on a long-term basis. If the program is too difficult to complete for any reason, it’s not the right one for you. Currently, there are over 14,500 specialized addiction treatment centers in the US alone, so there’s plenty to choose from.

The best treatment facilities will understand this and work to shape a treatment program around the client’s needs, not shape the client around the facility’s needs. Other than this overall principle, there are some basic things that anyone looking for the right treatment facility should look for:

  • Accreditation and licensing: Look for official state accreditation and fully licensed health professionals.
  • Accepted insurance companies: It’s important to make sure the facility will accept your insurance and that your policy will cover your care.
  • Financial assistance programs: If you don’t have health insurance or your plan doesn’t fully cover addiction treatment, some facilities will accept payment on a sliding scale or even offer free services for those with significant financial burdens. Many programs offer payment plans where you can essentially finance the cost of your treatment.
  • Childcare: For addicted individuals with children, childcare options at treatment facilities are likely very important. Many will offer daycare for those in outpatient programs, and some inpatient facilities even allow young children to stay with addicted mothers.
  • Program success rates: Many treatment centers, especially larger ones, will have published statistics on their programs’ success rates. It’s better if you can find statistics from studies done by outside sources not affiliated with the center in question.
  • Ratings and reviews: Most services these days can be rated and reviewed online. A lot of good testimonials from former clients is a good sign, as are thorough responses from the center to any negative reviews.
  • Workshop options: There’s much more to addiction treatment than just not taking the substance anymore. Workshops that teach life skills, job-finding techniques, stress reduction, etc., can be very helpful for individuals trying to take control of their lives.
  • Alternative treatments: Besides therapy and 12-Step programs, it can be helpful for a treatment center to offer additional therapeutic approaches, like nutritional programs, massage, and other health treatments that have been shown to help with addiction recovery in scientific studies.
  • Aftercare options: Continuing to attend support group meetings or therapy after a rehab program is completed significantly reduces the chance of relapse. Treatment centers with their own aftercare programs can be very helpful; if a center doesn’t offer aftercare or alumni programs, they should at least provide referrals to outside programs.

The best addiction treatment facilities feature these offerings, but individuals might have to sacrifice some of these traits for affordability or an accessible location. Avoid facilities that are not accredited by the state, that do not have licensed addiction specialists, or that seem to be rigid their offerings. Addiction is a very personal experience. Anyone who understands addiction should know that treatment needs to be personal, flexible, and as easy as possible for the person in need.