Drug and Alcohol Rehab Programs in the United States

There are numerous drug treatment programs in the United States, with more than 14,500 specialized drug treatment centers providing a range of counseling and behavioral therapies for addicts, not to mention a range of individualized programs of treatment offered by physicians and mental health clinics. This article aims to map out the major rehabilitation programs offered in the US.

While it’s possible to classify these different programs into types, as approaches to treatment and individual programs develop and diversify, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to fit them into traditional addiction treatment classifications. The majority of these drug and alcohol rehab programs involve a medically managed substance withdrawal to start the process of detoxification. However, simply removing the drugs or alcohol from the system doesn’t address the behavioral changes needed for complete recovery. These can only be addressed by drug addiction treatment.

Long-term residential treatment

This type of treatment is usually provided in a 24 hour facility, with the best known residential treatment model being the therapeutic community (TC). Length of stay is typically 6 to 12 months, and the focus is firmly on re-socializing the addict with a strictly structured program of treatment, based on activities which give individuals the opportunity for examining any deep seated negative beliefs and destructive behavior patterns.

Short-term residential treatment

These are intensive but short term treatments based on the traditional 12 step approach. Although they were originally used to treat alcohol abuse, they have been expanded and adapted to treat other types of substance abuse. Participants usually take part in a short 3 – 6 week treatment phase as an in-patient in a hospital, which is followed by a combination of outpatient therapy and taking part in an appropriate self help group, for example, Alcoholics Anonymous.

12 step programs

First developed by Alcoholics Anonymous, the 12 step program has now been expanded to cover all areas of addiction. The recovery process may vary depending on the particular group, but the general principles of admitting that you have a problem, that it is having a detrimental effect on your life and putting your trust in the process, remain the same. This kind of approach has proved to be most beneficial when combined with some form of behavioral therapy which helps addicts to modify their actions and intentions and teaches them how to deal with the urge to reuse.

Group counseling

Group counseling is a much used form of the program as it offers a greater level of social reinforcement due to the involvement of the associated peer group. They help addicts to process emotions, deal with triggers and understand that they do have support and are not alone in their struggle against abuse. It’s often used in conjunction with individual counseling, and this approach seems to show the most positive outcomes. Researchers are currently looking at ways to standardize group counseling and make it more community friendly.

Non 12 step programs

Although a 12 step program is often used for rehabilitating addicts, this approach doesn’t work for everyone. Sometime an individual’s personality or issues outside their addiction may make it difficult to take part in a group environment or, for various reasons, it’s not possible for them to get to a group. In these instances, individual counseling may be the best form of rehab program, especially for making socially awkward or extremely shy addicts feel more comfortable.

Individualized drug counseling

While this kind of counseling focuses on the reduction or cessation of substance abuse, it also assists with issues such as employment, relationships and any illegal activity as a result of addiction. The emphasis is on creating short term behavior related goals and developing coping strategies to help the addict to abstain from drug use. Regular 12 step participation is encouraged, in addition to supplementary referrals for additional medical and psychiatric help as required.

Holistic rehab programs

a holistic rehab program is usually offered in a residential treatment center, where a variety of holistic therapies, such as nutrition, exercise, yoga, meditation and creative therapies are combined to address the specific needs of the individual. This is an innovative and relatively new approach to treating addictions, and is offered at Luxury Beach Rehab.

SMART Recovery

SMART recovery (Self Management and Recovery Training) is a rehab program which places emphasis on a four point system which has been developed based on scientific knowledge about addicts and addiction. The program covers how to stay motivated, how to deal with urges, appropriate management of behaviors and thoughts, and how to live in a balanced manner.

Some statistics about drug and alcohol addiction and treatment

While both alcohol and drug addiction are treatable, it’s estimated that 35 out of 36 alcoholics never seek any kind of treatment. Based on figures from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NDSUH) 23.5 million persons aged 12 and older required some form of treatment for illicit drug or alcohol abuse issues in 2008. This equates to 9.3% of people. However,  out of these, only 2.6 million received treatment in specialized drug rehab programs in the US, with facilities that were licensed or certified by the state to provide substance abuse treatment reporting 1.8 million admissions for treatment of alcohol and drug abuse in 2008, with the majority of admissions being those who were addicted to alcohol.

However, not all addicts seek treatment. It’s estimated that 17.6 million people or 1 in every 12 adults suffer from alcohol dependence or abuse, with millions more engaging in behavior that could potentially lead to a problem with alcohol. More than 20 millions of Americans aged 12 or over have used an illegal drug in the last 30 days, plus an estimated 48 million Americans (approximately 20% of the population) are using prescriptions drugs for non-medical reasons.

State financed rehab programs

There are countless drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers in the United States, some of which are funded by the state, with others being private facilities. These facilities vary, from differences in philosophies to differences in costs. At one end of the scale, there are exclusive but extremely expensive private rehabilitation centers, while at the other you’ll find programs which are funded by the state.

The availability of such programs can vary from state to state, particularly in light of shrinking health care budgets, which has meant that some states have needed to make cuts to their provision of services. For example, the state of Illinois considered cutting funding for all its rehabilitation programs, while Washington State offer 6 months of rehab treatment, in either an inpatient facility or outpatient center, to anyone who meets their eligibility criteria.

With all this in mind, it’s important to investigate your state’s eligibility criteria for covering addiction care, and always bear in mind, that even if you are eligible, it might be necessary for you to wait before you are allocated a place.

You can find more detailed information about rehab programs in certain states here: