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Addiction Treatment Requires a Full Continuum of Care

people sitting next to each other reading - continuum of careAcute vs. Chronic

For a patient with an acute illness, such as strep throat or even appendicitis, the treatment is very specific. It occurs over a limited time and then finishes. Addiction treatment doesn’t work in the same manner. Addiction is a chronic illness that needs to be treated with a continuum of care.

According to, a continuum is a “compact, connected set containing at least two elements.” Each point in the set is slightly different from the point directly before it.

Continuum of Care in Medicine

A continuum of care is used to treat patients in various areas of medicine. Someone who has been diagnosed with a severe disease or injury will likely need more than one type of treatment. The patient will likely be seen by a medical team that includes people with several specialties who can treat the whole person.

Addiction treatment works in the same manner. It requires the work of a number of people who provide care at different stages of the process. The starting point is where a person is actively using their drug of choice and not in treatment. However, waiting until someone hits “rock bottom” or decides they are “ready” to seek help isn’t required to move forward on the road to recovery.

Continuum of Care in Drug and Alcohol Treatment

When providing treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, several related steps are needed to give clients the best opportunity to achieve long-term sobriety. Ideally, this process takes place over time and isn’t rushed. Each person who enters a treatment program is an individual, with his or her own history and treatment goals.

Each step in the continuum of care in drug and alcohol treatment is necessary. They shouldn’t be skipped or rushed, as each client needs to experience them at their own pace.

1. Detoxification

Some people confuse detox with drug and alcohol treatment. They think that if they can simply get their loved one to stop using their drug of choice that the problem will be solved. Unfortunately, addiction is much more complicated than that.

Detox frees a client from the influence of chemicals, but it doesn’t address the underlying issues that led to the addiction originally. They need to be dealt with during the next stage.

2. Treatment Program

This is the stage where the client really digs in and starts focusing on the issues related to his addiction. In a residential treatment program, clients can focus their attention on getting well, without the distractions that accompany their everyday lives. Instead, they participate in a personalized program that is tailored to meet their specific needs.

Treatment incorporates a number of options, including individual therapy sessions, group therapy, drug and alcohol education groups, 12-Step fellowships such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

Along with the foregoing, clients participate in recreational activities to encourage regular physical activity. They receive a healthy, balanced diet that includes a variety of foods. They maintain a routine where they get up and go to sleep on a regular schedule.

These healthy lifestyle components are an important part of a drug and alcohol treatment program. They help to relieve stress and depression, introduce or (re-introduce) the idea of play and having fun to clients, and help to get them feeling better physically. Self-esteem also improves through this process, making it easier for clients to focus on their long-term goals.

3. Continuing Care

Since addiction is a chronic disease, it’s simply not realistic to expect that a client will complete a course of treatment and not need any further support after she is released. It’s relatively easy to stick to one’s recovery goals in a place where there aren’t any old drinking buddies around. No one at the substance abuse center will be hosting a party and offer a client a drink or encourage him to use his drug of choice again “just this once.”

Some options for continuing care include the following:

  • Sober Living: In this type of living arrangement, people who have participated in a substance abuse treatment program live in a group home. Sober living allows the residents to transition into the community after a residential treatment program. The residents pay rent and must follow house rules to stay there. (No drugs or alcohol are allowed.)
  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): PHP may be considered for a client who needs to be medically monitored consistently and who is willing and able to participate in group and individual therapy for several days a week. Clients must have a supportive family or friends since they return home each night and return to the hospital during the day for treatment.
  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP): An IOP is flexible enough so that participants can work or go to school while getting the support they need for chemical dependency. Clients may attend for up to 30 hours per week, depending on their specific needs. These programs may include meetings, workshops, or classes. Participants may also be encouraged to attend a 12-Step program along with the IOP.

Take the First Step to Get Help Today

Great Oaks Recovery is situated in Egypt, Texas. Our facility is fully committed to values like honesty, respect, and teamwork. Everyone on our staff is passionate about helping the clients we serve and we understand that with perseverance challenges can be overcome.

If you or someone you love is in need of alcohol or drug treatment, contact our Houston drug addiction recovery center anytime at (713) 769-0102. We are here to help.