Some may say that the hardest part about recovery happens before treatment ever begins. Often, the biggest challenge for people is accepting a loss of control of substance use or mental health symptoms. This, in turn, makes it hard to recognize one’s need for treatment.

Once an individual recognizes their need for treatment, what next step should they take? Those who have limited knowledge of what addiction is and what recovery involves may seek out the nearest treatment center to them and request an evaluation. Some may even assume that recovery is a one-size-fits-all program. This initiative should be commended. However, it is important to understand that there are many treatment avenues that one can take to begin their recovery journey. One should know about each option and self-advocate for a specific treatment program. Doing so can make all the difference in treatment engagement and effectiveness overall.

Understanding Continuum of Care in Addiction Recovery

Before researching treatment centers and programs, it can help to understand some basics regarding variations in treatment programs. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) outlines a treatment system referred to as a continuum of care. This system helps patients determine the appropriate level of care to best fit their needs. Because it is a continuum, the system emphasizes how patients can step up and step down in levels of care as needed during treatment.

The five main levels included in a continuum of care specific to substance use treatment include:

  • Level 0.5: Early intervention services
  • Level I: Outpatient services
  • Level II: Intensive outpatient/partial hospitalization services
  • Level III: Residential/inpatient services
  • Level IV: Medically managed intensive inpatient services

It is also important to understand that factors such as treatment philosophy, services, settings and even patient demographics may vary between treatment programs and facilities. For example, outpatient programs vary between treatment centers based on the treatment modalities offered, where therapy takes place, how many patients are receiving services and more. Based on this knowledge and with the help of professionals, prospective patients can determine the level and location that is best for them.

A Brief Introduction to the Levels of Care in Addiction Recovery

Many treatment types coincide with the five levels of care. Additionally, there are other treatment services that may not necessarily fit in the category of the continuum.

Here are brief introductions to each level and treatment type:

Level 0.5: Early Intervention Services

Early intervention services involve preventing and addressing substance misuse before it worsens or develops into substance use disorder (SUD). These services are provided in a variety of settings for individuals who may or may not already struggle with their mental health or substance use. Professional interventionists will inform patients of substance use risks and teach harm reduction and relapse prevention strategies.

Level I: Outpatient Services

Outpatient services allow patients to receive treatment throughout the week and return home at the end of the day. Individuals can stay engaged with work and school since treatment is manageable and flexible. Many therapeutic modalities may be utilized in outpatient programs. 

Level II: Intensive Outpatient or Partial Hospitalization

Intensive outpatient (IOP) and partial hospitalization programs (PHP) require more frequent attendance and participation compared to traditional outpatient programs. Patients still commute from home but typically spend up to 30 hours a week receiving treatment. This level of care is best suited for individuals with mild to severe substance use and mental health problems.

Level III: Residential or Inpatient Services

Residential programs, also known as inpatient programs, require patients to live at the treatment facility. They offer a stable treatment setting for patients and require all residents to follow specific rules and expectations. This level of care is best for those who struggle with severe disorders and associated symptoms. It is also the recommended treatment option for those who have not had success with sobriety in the past.

Level IV: Medically Managed Intensive Inpatient

This level provides psychiatric and medical care 24/7. The most common service administered at this level is detoxification, which is the process of ridding the body of alcohol and other drugs. Individuals who need this level of care may be vulnerable to extreme mental health and substance use symptoms. They may also be at high risk of suicidal ideation, thus the necessity of medical monitoring.

Choosing the Right Treatment Program for My Recovery

After becoming familiar with the different levels of care and associated treatment types, individuals can narrow down treatment options. If prospective patients or loved ones have questions regarding what level of care is the best fit for one’s needs and recovery goals, consider seeking a professional evaluation.

A primary care physician can refer individuals to a SUD professional that can better identify their needs. Individuals can then speak with staff members at treatment facilities they are interested in to learn more about their programs. Additionally, most treatment centers have websites detailing what to expect as individuals receive care from their facility.

Choosing the right program does not have to be intimidating. Once one finds a facility that one feels comfortable in, a collaborative care team will collaborate to customize one’s treatment program as needed.

New Life Addiction Counseling and Mental Health Services knows how intimidating it can feel to choose a treatment program for yourself or a loved one. Fortunately, we offer a range of different treatment programs and services so we can meet our patients exactly where they are on their healing journey. If you or your loved one is struggling and aren’t sure where to turn, give New Life a call today at (877) 929-2571.