Posted in Addiction Recovery on April 13, 2017
Last modified on May 9th, 2019

An Overview of the Common Steps Toward Successful Rehab

Successful substance rehab is a process that unfolds in stages. While the details of any given program may differ, the overall goals remain largely the same. A brief overview will help you understand the common steps of rehab for drugs and alcohol.

Step 1: Development of an Individualized Treatment Plan

Successful rehab is typically based on an individualized treatment plan that views you as a person with specific needs. Your doctor will usually formulate this plan as early as possible to maximize your chances for positive outcomes. Specific information needed to provide a truly individualized approach includes:

  • Details of your substance use history
  • Details of your overall medical history, and
  • Details of your overall mental/psychological history

Factors in each of these areas can have a major impact on the course of your treatment.

Step 2: Detoxification

Most rehab programs set sobriety from drugs or alcohol use as their goal. This means that they start with a detoxification process that requires you to bring your substance intake to a halt and go through the initial stages of withdrawal. The severity of withdrawal varies from substance to substance, as well as from individual to individual. This means that the length and course of detox also varies considerably.

Step 3: Active Treatment

The active phase of treatment typically begins when you complete the detoxification process. Depending on your situation, treatment may include medications, psychotherapy or a combination of medications and psychotherapy. Doctors frequently rely on some form of medication to address the symptoms of different addictions, including alcoholism and opioid addiction. However, there are no proven medical options for the treatment of many forms of addiction. Psychotherapy, on the other hand, can prove effective in a much broader range of circumstances. Common psychotherapy options include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Contingency management, and
  • Family therapy

4: Continuing Care or Aftercare

While active substance treatment helps you establish initial sobriety and provides you with tools for maintaining sobriety, the successful steps of rehab for drugs and alcohol almost always include involvement in some kind of aftercare or continuing care program. One of the most common options is enrollment in a mutual self-help group that relies on peer interaction to help you maintain your sobriety over time. Other potential options include such things as community-based support programs, remote or in-person aftercare interventions and vocational/employment programs.


National Institute on Drug Abuse: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment – A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: A Guide to Substance Abuse Services for Primary Care Clinicians – Chapter 5: Specialized Substance Abuse Treatment Programs

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