What is a Substance Abuse Program?

A substance abuse program is treatment for alcohol or drug problems. There are many different treatment options for addicts; these are combined into individualized substance abuse programs. A treatment program often includes detoxification, plus individual and group counseling. A substance abuse program may be attended on an outpatient basis or be residential.

Residential drug or alcohol substance abuse programs involve the individual with addiction problems living in a facility while receiving treatment. These programs may be a month long or even longer. A graduate of a residential substance abuse treatment program may move on to one of the other types of live-in programs. These are sober living-based situations in which newly recovering addicts begin to learn to function in society without dependence on drugs or alcohol.


Before a sober living substance abuse program, when an addict first seeks help, treatment is usually based on detoxifying the body and easing withdrawal. Both alcohol and drug dependency cause physical withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, fever, anxiety, and many more. If addicts stop abusing a substance abruptly, the withdrawal symptoms soon develop and are often so severe that they drive the addict to start using again. A substance abuse program that includes detoxification, or ridding the body of the drug, helps the addict avoid or reduce strong withdrawal symptoms. For example, many heroin addicts in substance abuse programs are given monitored doses of another narcotic, such as methadone, so that the withdrawal is gradual and the addict doesn't suffer physically.

A sober living program often takes place in a house in a residential area. Program participants each have their own bed, but may need to share a room. Typically, a drug and alcohol counselor runs the house. He or she usually lives in the facility and is likely to be a former addict. Strict rules about having absolutely no drugs or alcohol in the house must be followed or participants risk being kicked out. Regular therapy or counseling sessions in a group setting at least once a week are a common part of this type of substance abuse program.

Other types of substance abuse programs include those on an outpatient basis. Addicts attend regular therapy sessions at a hospital or community-based treatment center. Substance abuse prevention programs work to prevent people from abusing alcohol and drugs. Former addicts often volunteer their time in these programs to speak at schools to warn teens about the danger of using drugs and alcohol.



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