General Substance Abuse Treatment

Once a person becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, the effects of addiction impact most every area of his or her life. General substance abuse treatment encompasses a wide spectrum of treatment interventions, each designed to address different aspects of addiction. These types of treatment programs take an individualized approach to addressing each person’s situation.

Regardless of the type of drug or substance used, addiction works in the same way in terms of its effects on overall brain function. More than anything else, the different drug types vary in how they affect various bodily functions. While treatment programs may all approach addiction in similar ways, addressing the medical and psychological effects of any one drug-type will likely vary.

As different people do experience addiction in different ways, treatment duration lengths can vary from person to person. That being so, the longer a person spends in treatment the better his or her chances of a successful recovery process.

Drug Addiction’s Effects

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Substance abuse treatment can help you get your life back on track.

For some people, the voluntary choice to use drugs or alcohol can soon turn into an out-of-control need. With frequent use, these substances change the way the brain works.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, brain imaging scans show addiction causes noticeable changes in areas of the brain regulating:

  • Learning processes
  • Memory
  • Judgment
  • Behavior control
  • Decision making

These changes reflect a chronic type of brain disease that leaves addicts prone to relapse regardless of any negative consequences that result from drug-using behaviors. In effect, addiction changes the brain on a structural level and also changes the way the brain works. General substance abuse treatment programs work to undo the damaging effects of addiction in a person’s life.

Treatment Needs

Different types of substances affect the body in different ways. Likewise, each person’s body reacts to drugs and alcohol in different ways. General substance abuse treatment programs must first asses a person’s overall condition before putting together his or her treatment plan.

According to Massachusetts General Hospital, factors considered during an assessment include:

  • Substance used
  • Addiction severity
  • Types of physical/psychological symptoms resulting from addiction
  • A person’s medical history
  • A person’s age
  • A person’s current health status
  • A person’s attitude towards treatment
  • The presence of absence of a support system in a person’s life

As some drugs can cause more damage to the brain and body than others, such as marijuana versus cocaine, addictions that have severely compromised a person’s overall health status may well require ongoing medical and/or psychological treatment care.

Treatment Considerations

As a chronic, long-term condition, the effects of addiction can stay with a person for much longer than any one treatment program runs. On average, anyone struggling with addiction requires a minimum of three months in treatment to be able to reduce or stop drug use for any length of length.

Ultimately, longer treatment program stays produce the best results in terms of treatment outcomes. In cases where relapse episodes do occur, general substance abuse treatment programs must be prepared to re-admit and/or re-evaluate a person’s current treatment needs.

Types of Treatment

More oftentimes than not, addiction’s damaging effects on a person’s physical and psychological well-being requires a comprehensive treatment approach to ensure ongoing abstinence throughout the recovery process. For this reason, general substance abuse treatment programs treat addiction in stages.

Most programs start out with detoxification treatment in order to address the most debilitating aspects of addiction. From there, residential and outpatient treatment services enable recovering addicts to confront the underlying issues that drive addiction behaviors.

While many people may enter general substance abuse treatment with a certain timeframe in mind, addiction can have lifelong effects on a person’s thinking and behaviors. For this reason, many recovering addicts remain engaged in some form of addiction treatment for years after completing a treatment program.

Detoxification Treatment

Detoxification treatment can take different forms depending on the drug involved and the severity of the addiction. Since the detox stage can bring on fairly uncomfortable withdrawal effects, general substance abuse treatment programs may administer medication treatments to help alleviate withdrawal discomfort.

In the case of opiate detoxification treatment, medication therapies, such as methadone and buprenorphine actually treat the source of withdrawal by supporting drug-deprived brain cell functions. Detox treatment programs typically run anywhere from two weeks to a month in duration depending on the type of drug and the severity of the addiction.

Residential Treatment Options

As detox treatment only addresses the body’s physical dependency on drugs, anyone coming off an addiction will require ongoing treatment help. It’s not uncommon for someone to go directly into a residential treatment program after completing detox treatment.

Residential treatment entails living on the grounds of the facility for the duration of the program. Program lengths can be short-term running from one to three months in duration, or long-term running from three to six months long.

During this time, recovering addicts develop daily living coping skills for dealing with life pressures. Residents spend their time in engaged in psychotherapy, 12-Step support group meetings and group counseling work.

Residential programs provide a highly structured treatment environment. Compared to outpatient care, residential programs offer the most intensive form of drug treatment. These programs work well for people with long drug abuse histories, especially in cases where a person has attempted to live drug-free on an outpatient basis and suffered one or more relapse episodes.

Outpatient Treatment

For the most part, outpatient treatment programs provide the same types of interventions as inpatient programs. Outpatient programs differ in that a person can live at home during the length of the program while attending scheduled treatment sessions at the treatment facility.

Outpatient treatment should only be considered in cases where a person is at the early stages of addiction with little to no drug abuse history. People with work and family obligations may also benefit from the flexible scheduling afforded by these programs.


While anyone considering entering addiction treatment has a range of general substance abuse treatment interventions to choose from, a person’s individual treatment needs should always dictate which course of treatment will work best. As addiction tends to leave deep scars within a person’s psychological make-up, long-term recovery success means staying engaged in the recovery process for as long as needed.

Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed, each of which is a paid advertiser: Rehab Media Group, Recovery Helpline, Alli Addiction Services.

By calling the helpline you agree to the terms of use. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. There is no obligation to enter treatment.

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