What are the Levels of Care in Addiction Treatment? – 2024 Guide

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Seeking addiction treatment is necessary for individuals struggling with substance use disorder to have more control over their lives. Drug and alcohol addiction disrupts brain functioning and impacts an individual’s overall health, leading them to choose the best treatment plan that caters to their needs. Many rehab centres, therefore, provide a continuum of care to ensure that clients enter the right treatment program. And as they recover or need a treatment change, they move to different levels of care.

Levels of care can be defined as the intensity of services required to diagnose or treat an individual’s addiction. While some clients may participate in all levels of care, others only prefer one. Also, these levels of care are flexible and can be adjusted to match the patient’s treatment needs.

The five levels of care that most rehabs follow for addiction counselling and treatment include:

  • Detoxification
  • Inpatient Program (IP)
  • Partial Hospitalisation Program (PHP)
  • Intensive Outpatient (IOP)
  • Outpatient (OP)

Read on to learn about the five levels of care in detail and decide what level of care you need and what you can expect:

1. Detoxification or Withdrawal

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Detox is a short-term intervention that removes harmful substances or toxins from the body. In addiction treatment, detoxing can either be natural or medicinal, depending on the severity of symptoms in the patient. The first level of drug treatment, detox, is the process that everyone has to go through before enrolling themselves on the treatment program.

Whether you are joining the rehab to get rid of alcohol addiction, heroin addiction, opiate addiction, or any other, detox is performed as the most intensive level of care. Also, detoxification can be performed at a hospital, but many rehab centres have detox treatment facilities available at their centre.

During the detox phase, patients are constantly monitored under the supervision of medical professionals and other licensed staff members. They take care of the patients and provide round-the-clock services to them.

What Happens During Detox?

Most people find detox a scary and challenging process because of the occurrence of a range of symptoms, such as:

  • Poor concentration
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Profuse sweating
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Tremors
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Increased or decreased heart rate
  • Muscle pain
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Nausea

Experiencing these withdrawal symptoms can be difficult and dangerous, and you might feel alone. However, medical professionals who provide constant access to medications and other treatment tools can help minimise these symptoms and make the process much easier and safer.

Also, depending on the length of addiction and the drug used by an individual, the size of the detox period varies. For example, most detox treatment lasts between three to ten days. You must also know that the detox period can’t prevent withdrawal symptoms. However, they will be more manageable with the help of detox. The primary goal of the detox process is to get the person medically stabilised so they can progress to the next level of addiction treatment.

2. Inpatient (IP)

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The next step of addiction treatment is when a patient moves from a detox program to an inpatient program, also known as a residential program. In an inpatient program, the patients are required to stay at the facility full-time for at least 30 days, give or take. Inpatient treatment is best for those with functional deficits, such as impaired cognitive abilities and mental health conditions, as they receive round-the-clock access to medical professionals and staff members.

The medical professionals also encourage patients to attend therapy sessions and workshops where they can address the roots of their addiction and learn healthy coping skills when the urge arises. Inpatient treatment also benefits those who want to live in a stable environment while working on sobriety. Many people face triggering situations at home, and inpatient treatment is the right choice for them.

3. Partial Hospitalisation Program (PHP)

A partial hospitalisation program (PHP) is a step-down level of care for patients who have already completed inpatient rehab. Referred to as a day program, partial hospitalisation allows individuals to attend intensive care without staying in the facility overnight. You can continue your everyday life in partial hospitalisation while receiving the necessary care. In other words, you don’t have to put your life entirely on hold.

A useful option for most substance use disorders, PHP treatment can also treat mental health disorders. You can enrol for PHP treatment at a drug centre or a hospital that provides inpatient, outpatient, and other treatment programs. Like detox, PHP treatment length depends on the severity of your symptoms, and people go through the program for about six hours per day for up to five days per week.

Also, most treatment programs generally last for a minimum of 90 days. In the partial hospitalisation program, you will receive medical monitoring and a chance to participate in a wide range of evidence-based therapies, including addiction counselling, group counselling, mindfulness practices, and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).

4. Intensive Outpatient (IOP)

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Intensive outpatient programs, or IOP, are designed for patients who do not require detoxification as a part of their addiction treatment and recovery. Instead, IOP helps individuals continue their recovery following the initial treatment of their substance abuse. It helps patients rebuild their lives after completing rehab. They are encouraged to work on their relationships with family members and loved ones while maintaining sobriety.

Unlike inpatient or residential programs, IOP patients live at home and attend the program during the daytime. Though IOP is not a live-in treatment plan, it requires the same hard work and commitment towards the treatment. The IOP sessions typically run three days per week and last about 3 hours daily. IOP also help prevent relapse and have other objectives too, including:

  • Implementing positive behaviours and necessary lifestyle changes
  • Addressing the primary issues leading to alcohol or drug abuse
  • Assisting patients in developing a support network
  • Identifying mental health or psychological issues
  • Achieving and maintaining sobriety
  • Improving coping mechanisms and assisting individuals in developing self-therapeutic techniques

5. Outpatient (OP)

Outpatient Care, or OP, is the least strict of the options outlined in the continuum of care. The outpatient program requires an individual to attend meetings at regular intervals without having to live at a treatment facility. Similar to partial hospitalisation, 12-step meetings, or a combination of both, the outpatient program provides adequate sober support to maintain sobriety. In addition, OP offers dual diagnosis coverage and is more affordable than other options, perfect for those with a steady job or a robust support system at home. Individuals generally attend the outpatient program as a step-down after completing IP or IOP.

At the beginning of OP, individuals learn to stay sober without external support and acquire skills to help prevent relapse. During the rehab program, patients also participate in group sessions designed to combat alcohol and drug use. In most cases, outpatient care lasts for at least 90 days. However, some people attend the program more depending on their recovery process.

Which Type of Addiction Treatment or Level of Care is Right for You?

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Taking that first step towards addiction treatment and recovery can be scary, but you don’t have to do it alone. Keep the information provided in the above article and start researching the most experienced rehabs in the UK. Whatever you choose between a drug or alcohol rehab, ensure they offer the same levels of care that align with your ever-changing needs. These levels of care are a great combination of coping skills, addiction counselling therapies, and sobriety.

And now that you know what each one of these entails, you must have a clear idea of what you or your loved one needs. Hence, if you are looking for addiction treatment support in the UK, contact your nearest rehab facility to learn more about sobriety solutions and their admission process.