When you are researching options for how to get yourself (or someone you love) help for a substance addiction, you may be overwhelmed with the options! Fortunately, there are a few questions that can help you narrow down what level of care one needs: outpatient therapist visits, a structured outpatient program, detox, or residential addiction treatment. Each of these categories of treatment are designed for people at different stages of addiction and using the questions below, you can decide where you or a loved one belongs.
1. Have there been repeated failed attempts at sobriety?
If yes, a profound addiction is at work and high levels of care are needed. After detox (medical detox if substance of choice was alcohol or benzodiazepines as withdrawal from these can be lethal), long term residential addiction treatment is recommended so the individual is finally prepared to re-enter life without needing drugs/alcohol to cope or “enjoy” oneself.
If no- outpatient care is recommended, either an after-work program or seeing an addiction specialized therapist a few times a week.
2. Have negative social consequences resulted from drug/alcohol use or procurement? (such consequences could include: isolation, breakdown of marriage, severed connections with close friends or family members, or an inability to maintain a stable romantic relationship)
** may be difficult for addicts/alcoholics to answer objectively, they may need to rely on impartial advice from those close to him/her to answer this as addicts/alcoholics are often in profound denial about their addiction causing ANY sort of problem.
If yes- the addiction has begun to ravage the individual’s life. Despite hurtful consequences, the addict/alcoholic is unable to stop themselves from continuing their addiction. It is time for intensive help- residential addiction treatment is recommended so the individual can come to terms with the harm his/her addiction has caused and develop skills to replace the addiction’s function.
If no- the addiction has been caught in its early stages, a very good sign. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to convince these individuals that they are headed down a dangerous and unsatisfying track, an intervention is often necessary in these cases to create a “bottom” for the individual to hit (safely during an intervention before his/her life is destroyed by the addiction.
3. Has drug/alcohol use or procurement caused problems in your working life? (Loss of job, decreased productivity, demotion, etc)
** ditto to last Q’s disclaimer on objectivity
If yes- Continuing to engage in the behavior after something as important as one’s work life has been jeopardized is a sure sign of trouble. Time needs to be spent both reflecting on the problems substance abuse has caused and how to stand up to temptation and resist using it. As this is infinitely easier said than done, residential addiction treatment is suggested for these cases as having 24/7 mentors and a strong/stable program are going to be key for developing the skills necessary for life-long recovery.
If no- refer to above question’s “if no” answer. Outpatient options are favored unless significant other problems due to drug/alcohol use have occurred.
4. Do you feel that it is either impossible or useless to function soberly?
If yes- consistent professional intervention is needed to aid the individual throughout early recovery. Not only will the individual need to be in residential addiction treatment to keep him/her safe from accessing the drug/substance, he/she will need very positive recovery role models present around the clock to verify that sobriety is (indeed) worth it!
If no- challenge the individual (or yourself) to “prove it” by staying sober. If the/she/you decline because “it’s no fun” or “it’s a bad time” are brought up, recognize these as excuses and attempt sobriety anyways.
5. What percentage of your day is dedicated to locating, using, and being high/drunk on your substance of choice?
If a significant amount of one’s DAILY life is dedicated to escaping life through substance use, there is a major problem. If getting drunk/high is among the top 2 priorities of someone everyday, he/she is in need of IMMEDIATE residential addiction treatment. If, however, one only uses substances once or twice a month- outpatient therapist visits would be a more appropriate place to first seek help.