How Addiction Treatment Centers Work [& Tips for Choosing]


Addiction treatment centers are a key part of many people’s recovery from addiction.

While these centers all aim to help people manage their addictions and reach sobriety, not all addiction centers look or function in the same way.

In this article, we will discuss the aims of addiction treatment centers and what services they may offer. Continue reading to learn more about:

  • The definition of addiction
  • Types of addictions
  • Signs suggestive of addiction
  • The role of addiction centers
  • The levels of treatments available at treatment centers and available services
  • How to find the right addiction treatment centers

Let’s get into it!

The Definition of Addiction

According to the CDC, “Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences.”

Often, people who suffer from addiction become reliant on an addictive substance or behavior that negatively impacts their lives.

People who live with addiction will often suffer negative consequences because of their addiction but are unable to stop and feel a loss of control as a consequence.

It is important to note that addiction often looks different for every person and that each situation is unique to the individual.

Types of Addiction

Addiction is a complex disease, which often results from psychological or physical stressors. There are two main types of addictions: Substance addictions, and behavioral addictions.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse addictions occur when a person has become physically, or psychologically dependent on an addictive substance. This is often called ‘Substance Use Disorder’.

These addictions commonly involve drugs such as alcohol, stimulants, or opioids, but can include a wide array of substances.

  • Alcohol
  • Nicotine
  • Opioids, including prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and codeine, as well as illegal drugs such as heroin
  • Stimulants, including drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine
  • Sedatives, including benzodiazepines (benzos) and barbiturates
  • Cannabis.

Behavioral Addictions

Unlike substance abuse addictions, behavioral addictions involve an action that is compulsively carried out despite the negative consequences.

Some of the most well-known behavioral addictions include gambling, pornography, and gaming.

Behavioral addictions trigger the same reward system that other addictions do. This results in a craving for the addiction behavior.

Because there is no substance abuse, like in other addictions, these addictions can be more difficult to identify but are just as important to treat.

Some examples include:

  • Gambling
  • Internet addictions
  • Gaming addiction
  • Sex and pornography addiction
  • Shopping
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive working
  • Obsessive exercise.

Signs of Addiction

If you are worried about yourself or a loved one, it is important to be able to identify any potential warning signs of addiction.

These signs may not be present in everyone who suffers from addiction, but they can act as a good guide.

  • A loss of control: People with addiction are often unable to stop themselves from engaging in addictive behavior or use of addictive substances, despite the will to stop
  • Loss of other interests: Someone who experiences addiction will often spend a large amount of their time thinking about and trying to fulfill their addictive needs. This often results in withdrawal from other interests and social obligations
  • Increased tolerance: For people with addictions, they will often require larger amounts of the substance, or activity in order to fulfill their craving
  • Withdrawal symptoms: People with addictions will often experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the addictive substance or engaging in the addictive behavior. Some common signs include irritability, nausea, cravings, and anxiety
  • Secrecy: People with addictions will often try to hide, or downplay the extent of their problem. This may include lying about their addiction outright, stealing, or finding excuses to engage in that addictive task. They may also withdraw from people who do not support their addictive behaviors
  • Changes in mood: People with addiction will often experience large mood swings, related to their addiction. This may include irritability, short temper, and anxiety when they cannot fulfill their addictive cravings. It may also include excitement and euphoria in anticipation of fulfilling their cravings
  • Financial hardship: One of the ways that addiction negatively impacts someone’s life is by having a large financial toll on the person. You may notice that people start borrowing money frequently, or engage in illegal activities to help fund their addiction.

The Role of Addiction Treatment Centers

Addiction treatment centers offer specialist support for people who struggle with addiction.

They can support people no matter the extent of their addiction and offer a wide range of services to help people establish and maintain sobriety.

Addiction Centers help people in the initial stages of the recovery process by assisting people to detoxify, which means coming off the addictive substance or initially stopping their addictive behavior.

They help to monitor the process and offer treatment to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Addiction treatment centers also offer psychological support and education to help treat the root cause of the addiction.

Along with providing medications to manage withdrawal, they aim to support people in maintaining sobriety long-term.

The Different Levels of Addiction Treatment

There are numerous levels of addiction treatment that can be catered to a person’s needs.

Some of the most common include:

  • Outpatient services: This is often the first step for people. This involves attending a clinic a few times a week for counseling and other services with addiction experts
  • Intensive outpatient: Intensive outpatient services often involve more frequent visits to treatment services. They may also receive some medications to help manage their symptoms
  • Inpatient care: Inpatient care is often the next step for people. Inpatient services offer a structured environment that requires you to live in. Here, will be offered 24-hour support, along with any medical interventions you may need.

Common Treatment Types

1. Detoxification

Addiction treatment centers often help people in the initial stages of recovery to safely withdraw from their drug(s) of abuse. This often includes psychological support and medications to treat withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings

2. Counseling

One of the most common treatments offered is counseling. This may include working with mental health counselors who specialize in one-on-one counseling, group counseling, or family counseling.

This helps people to identify triggers, manage underlying medical issues, and help with aftercare planning to manage sobriety going forward.

3. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatment involves the use of medications to help people in sobriety.

This may include replacement therapies which help to minimize withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings, or other medications to treat underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to addiction.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment

Addiction treatment centers often offer support to people in their recovery journey, either in an inpatient or an outpatient setting.

Inpatient rehab centers offer help to people who struggle with addiction by providing round-the-clock supervision and support at their facility.

These inpatient treatments require people to live in the facility for a certain amount of time.

On the other hand, outpatient treatments do not require people to live at the center.

Instead, they offer support to people who struggle with addiction while they live at home. This may include treatment appointments, courses, and follow-up visits with health professionals.

In general, inpatient treatments are recommended for people who suffer from moderate to severe addictions or people who have struggled to maintain sobriety after other treatments.

Finding the Right Addiction Treatment Center

Not all addiction treatment centers are created the same, and some will be better suited for certain people.

There are a few helpful ways to first identify a few suitable centers before choosing the right one for you, such as:

Assess Your Needs

One of the best places to start is to consider how much support you need from a treatment facility.

If you suffer from a more severe addiction, or have tried to become sober a few times but have struggled, an inpatient treatment facility may be best.

If you have obligations that prevent you from living away from home, an outpatient center may be better suited to your needs

Consider financial services available

Addiction treatment centers vary significantly in their charges. It is important to assess what financial support is available to you

Many costs will be taken care of depending on your insurance coverage, as well as Medicaid support and other services. In general, inpatient stays are more expensive than outpatient treatments.

Other Things to Consider

  • Look for location: If you are considering an outpatient treatment center, it is important to consider location. Outpatient visits are required daily, making proximity an important consideration
  • Research the services offered: Different treatment centers will offer different services. You can often find a list of these services on their website
  • Read reviews and speak to your doctor: Like most services, you can often find reviews online which can help you gauge the types of services and quality that is offered at each site.

Your doctor will also likely have an idea of which treatment center is best for your needs.

Parting Thoughts

Treatment centers offer comprehensive support to people who are dealing with addiction in their lives.

It is important to know that not all treatment centers are created the same.

Some offer more comprehensive support and require you to stay at their facilities, while other outpatient services can help support you when you need it.

Either way, choosing the right treatment center can be the key to unlocking successful recovery from the shackles of addiction.


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