Guide to Creating a Substance Abuse Treatment Plan

Guide to Creating a Substance Abuse Treatment Plan

There is no single pathway to recovery. What works for one individual may not work for another. Making a substance abuse treatment plan isn’t a task to be taken lightly. The success of treatment hinges on a personalized plan that meets an individual’s unique and specific needs.

A treatment plan lays out the steps and modes of treatment. It’s important to match the appropriate medications, therapies and treatment setting—inpatient or outpatient—with the individual’s needs.

Considerations for Making a Substance Abuse Treatment Plan

Addiction is complex and involves a variety of underlying causes and related issues. How addiction is treated depends, in large part, on why and how it developed. When you first enter treatment or detox, a team of medical and mental health professionals will conduct a comprehensive assessment that will guide making a substance abuse treatment plan for you.

Your treatment team will take into consideration a wide range of factors when developing your treatment plan. These include:

  • Whether dependence has developed. If you experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using drugs or alcohol, you’ve developed a dependence. In this case, medical detox will be the first order of business on your treatment plan. Medical detox is the process of allowing all traces of a substance to leave the body so that brain function can begin to return to normal.
  • Personal preference. Making a substance abuse treatment plan that’s successful depends on matching you with the kind of treatment you need to feel safe and engaged. Someone who is atheist probably wouldn’t thrive in a religious-based program. Women who have experienced sexual assault often prefer a women’s-only program. LGBTQ individuals may prefer a program populated with others who understand the unique challenges faced by this demographic.
  • Co-occurring mental illnesses. When a mental illness like anxiety or depression co-occurs with a substance use disorder, it’s known as a dual diagnosis and requires special treatment. Making a substance abuse treatment plan for co-occurring disorders requires that the mental illness and addiction be treated at the same time, each in the context of the other.
  • Medical issues. Pre-existing medical problems or those stemming from substance abuse need to be under control for successful long-term recovery. Recovery is holistic and depends on the best possible overall health.
  • A history of trauma. Trauma-informed treatment helps individuals learn to cope with the devastating effects of sexual abuse, violence, natural disasters and other traumas. Making a substance abuse plan for someone with a history of trauma involves drawing on specific therapies that help trauma victims learn to cope and thrive.
  • Family environment. Family involvement in treatment improves the chances of successful recovery. If your home life is unstable or unsafe, inpatient treatment will be essential. Family therapy will play an important part in restoring function to the family system.
  • Legal issues. Legal issues cause a great deal of stress and financial pressure, which are major factors for relapse. If you’re in legal trouble, treatment will include resources for legal assistance to help get these issues under control.

Making a Substance Abuse Treatment Plan: Components

A treatment plan should be holistic, addressing issues of body, mind and spirit. A holistic treatment plan will draw on a variety of traditional and complementary therapies to promote whole-person healing. A treatment plan will include components like medications, “talk” therapies, psycho-educational classes and workshops, family therapy and complementary therapies like art, music or nutritional therapy.

Making a substance abuse treatment plan enables you and your treatment team to track your progress. As you progress through treatment, your treatment plan will evolve to meet new and changing needs. Your plan is your personal pathway to recovery, and fully engaging with it will increase your chances of successful recovery and a happier, healthier life.

Opioid and Benzodiazepine Use in College

Opioid and Benzodiazepine Use in College

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 30 percent of drug overdoses in the United States that involve opioids are also associated with the use of benzodiazepines. A dangerous combination of opioid and “benzo” use is on the rise, especially among college students.

Deaths related to opioid abuse in those under the age of 24 nearly doubled from 2005 to 2015, with opioid-related emergency room visits also doubling over a five-year period. From 2005 to 2011, there were close to one million ER visits that involved a combination of opioid and benzo use.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are painkillers that can be prescribed by a physician. Some generic examples of opioids are morphine, hydrocodone and buprenorphine. Brand names include OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin and Demerol while heroin is an illegal opioid.

These narcotics, when used for recreational or medical purposes, cause sedation and other side effects in addition to relieving pain symptoms. Opioids can become physically addictive and lose their effectiveness over long-term use, causing the person using the drug to increase dosages in order to feel the same effects.

What Are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are tranquilizers. Some brand names that are familiar to most people are Valium and Xanax. These medications are prescribed to treat conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, muscle spasms and seizures. Benzos are abused commonly, mainly due to their easy availability. When opioid and benzo drugs are taken together, the combination can be dangerous—even deadly.

Opioid and Benzo Use in College Students

Many Americans are aware of the current opioid epidemic sweeping across the country, affecting everyone from high school students to senior citizens. There is also a benzodiazepine epidemic that is happening, particularly those of college age. Benzos are perceived to help students deal with school-related anxieties and are also prevalent at parties. Some discover that when benzos are mixed with opioids or alcohol, the effects are much stronger.

Some college students may be given legal prescriptions for benzos in order to help with sleeplessness, anxiety or symptoms of depression. Others may decide to purchase benzos illegally to get high or enhance the high from using opioids.

Using opioids and benzos together decreases heart rate and breathing, increasing the risk of overdose, coma and death.

Recognizing Addiction

Early detection of addiction can be the key to a successful recovery. College students are often under a lot of pressure to do well in school, fit in with peers and deal with living away from home. Some turn to using drugs like opioids and benzos to ease the stress. Here are some signs to help recognize a growing problem with opioid and benzo abuse:

  • Academic performance is slipping
  • Weight changes
  • Isolation
  • Withdrawing from friends, activities
  • Pill bottles with no label
  • Sudden troubles with the law
  • Traffic accidents
  • Sudden violent disturbances
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Missing classes
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of motivation
  • Depression

If you or your loved one exhibit these signs of addiction, reach out for help. If you’re worried about your child who is a college student, make time for regularly scheduled talks and visits so you can stay involved and address any unsettling issues. Feeling the social stigma of being pegged an “addict” may keep many students from seeking help on their own, yet finding and sticking with the right treatment plan as soon as possible is essential to recovery.

5 Benefits of Long-Term Rehab

5 Benefits of Long-Term Rehab

Short-term rehab can be effective for helping some people end an addiction, but the benefits of long-term rehab far outweigh those of short-term rehab, especially for severe or long-term addictions. A rehab stay of less than 90 days is of limited effectiveness, and a long-term program offers better outcomes for lifelong recovery.

Here are just five of the benefits of long-term rehab.

1. It’s best for treating addiction.

Addiction involves complex changes in the brain’s structures and chemical functions. These changes occur over time, and they affect thought and behavior patterns. Unhealthy thought patterns lead to self-destructive behaviors, and successful recovery depends on identifying and replacing these negative patterns.

Additionally, addiction almost always has underlying causes, which often include chronic stress, a history of trauma, or a co-occurring mental illness. Addressing these issues and developing critical skills for coping with stress, cravings, negative emotions and discomfort is central to successful recovery.

Just as it takes time to develop an addiction, it takes time to address complex issues and develop habits that promote recovery. One of the most important benefits of long-term rehab is that it gives you the time you need to get to the bottom of the addiction and end the need for drugs or alcohol.

2. It promotes healthy lifestyle changes and a productive routine.

Long-term residential rehab encourages, guides and assists clients as they make healthy lifestyle changes and develop healthier habits. Spending several months developing and practicing new habits in a structured, routine-oriented environment helps to ensure the changes you make will stick and that you’re equipped to fly solo once you progress through the program.

3. It fosters close, healthy relationships with peers in recovery.

Peer support is important in treatment and recovery. People who have never been addicted can’t fully understand what someone in recovery is experiencing, and they may be unsure how to support a friend or loved one. The shared experiences of addiction create a bond of camaraderie and commiseration among those in recovery.

Through group therapy, workshops, social events and recreation, peers in recovery help each other stay motivated, accountable and, above all, honest. Long-term rehab promotes the development of strong, healthy relationships that form over an extended period of time. These relationships are often very valuable once treatment ends.

4. It keeps out distractions.

Outpatient programs are effective for some people, but for many, trying to recover while living at home poses a number of serious challenges. Trying to recover while you’re coping with the stresses of work and home and struggling with cravings and negative emotions isn’t easy, and it’s often unsuccessful. The many benefits of long-term rehab include the ability to focus just on recovery without outside distractions, temptations or stress getting in the way of progress.

5. It offers a high level of support.

Support is one of the foundations of successful recovery, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. A high level of support is crucial in the early months of recovery, and long-term rehab provides sturdy support while you’re in treatment and beyond. Support comes from staff and peers in recovery, and it’s available around the clock. Working through the complexities of addiction takes time, and being able to reach out for help whenever you need it in the early months of recovery is a major benefit of long-term rehab.

Ready to Recover? Reap the Benefits of Long-Term Rehab

The benefits of long-term rehab are far-reaching and improve your chances of successful recovery once you’re flying solo after treatment. Long-term rehab gives you the time and space you need to sort through a variety of issues and develop crucial skills for a healthy, happy and productive life after rehab.

Alcohol Rehab in PA: What to Look for

Alcohol Rehab in PA: What to Look for

Choosing the right treatment center for alcohol rehab in PA isn’t difficult when you know what to look for in a facility. Once you understand the options available, you’ll be equipped to choose the best alcohol rehab in PA where you can achieve successful sobriety.


Many addiction treatment facilities offer a period of detoxification, during which time you are supported as your body adapts to the absence of drugs and alcohol. The detox process may involve withdrawal symptoms, which can range from mild to quite severe reactions. This is why it’s essential that detox is supervised by medical professionals, and done so in a safe and comfortable atmosphere.

Residential Programs for Alcohol Rehab in PA

Residential programs for alcohol rehab in PA are excellent choices for recovery. Living in a relaxed atmosphere that is spacious, nicely furnished, with a variety of shared recreational amenities, pleasant outdoor views, and a low counselor-to-client ratio can make all the difference in your recovery.

Seek Out Alcohol Rehab Programs in PA That Offer a Variety of Therapy Types

Another important aspect of inpatient addiction treatment for alcohol rehab in PA is therapy.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a key component of a high-quality program for alcohol rehab in PA. With the help of CBT, clients learn how to recognize and successfully handle the triggers and destructive thoughts and behaviors that lead to cravings for alcohol.

Incorporating 12-step therapy programs in conjunction with mental health therapy can greatly increase the chances for successful long-term sobriety. Look for programs that support attendance at 12-step meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Involvement in AA and AA-sponsored events help people to develop habits that can be essential in maintaining sobriety after leaving treatment.

Seek out programs offering motivational interviewing, which is a therapeutic technique counselors use to converse with patients to help them increase motivation to overcome alcohol abuse. These talks help residents more clearly see how their life is working out right now and how they hope to live in the near future.

A very important treatment approach to look for is whether aftercare programs and relapse prevention therapy are offered. RPT teaches those in recovery how to successfully cope with high-risk situations that can lead to relapse.

Taking a Holistic Approach

Determine whether a program for rehab offers the option for holistic treatments. These are alternative practices and therapies that let individuals feel more in control of their physical, mental and spiritual selves. Meditation, yoga, peaceful walking paths, a swimming pool and other spots for outdoor and indoor relaxation all contribute to holistic therapy.

A BioSound Therapy System provides a complementary option to rehab that blends biofeedback, music therapy, guided imagery and sound frequency massage to help relieve anxiety and relieve withdrawal symptoms.

Be sure to check references and staff biographies for any rehab facility in Pennsylvania being considered. Read online reviews and patient testimonials on their websites. You may also be able to take a virtual tour of an alcohol rehab center in PA or download a brochure for more detailed information on what services, living arrangements and therapies are offered. Finding the right alcohol rehab in PA can help you or a loved one achieve a lasting sobriety.

The Role Tolerance Plays in Addiction

The Role Tolerance Plays in Addiction

Addiction is an insidious disease that can creep in slowly or develop rapidly, depending on tolerance. People may not even be aware that they are developing an addiction, as the signs are progressive and the changes can be subtle.

By understanding the role that tolerance plays in the development of addiction, people who use or abuse alcohol or drugs can understand how addiction sets in.

What Is Tolerance?

Tolerance occurs when a person has a diminished response to alcohol or drugs as a result of repeated use. Its mere presence means more of a substance is needed to achieve the desired results.

A person who has developed tolerance to a substance is not necessarily addicted to the substance in question. Their body has simply adapted to the presence of alcohol or drugs and has adjusted to the dose they have been accustomed to taking.

For example, a person who is taking an opioid pain medication may notice after a certain period of time that their regular dose no longer effectively diminishes their pain, or its effects wear off far sooner than before. In such instances, this person is likely to have developed a tolerance to that dose.

How Does Tolerance Develop into an Addiction?

When a person develops a tolerance to alcohol or drugs, they can be vulnerable to addiction if they increase the amount they take or if they take it more frequently. This is especially if they aren’t under a doctor’s supervision.

By increasing their dose of opioid pain medication, they may experience the relief they did with the drug’s first use, but in time, they will again develop a tolerance. Each level of this and each increase in the amount of the substance used can and often does pave the way to addiction.

Tolerance vs. Dependence

The Role Tolerance Plays In Addiction

Tolerance is one stage of the body’s development of a physical dependence on a substance. Dependence will result in withdrawal symptoms if a person stops using a substance or decreases the amount or frequency of use.

Some people who are dependent on pain medications, for example, will experience withdrawal symptoms like headaches or nausea if they don’t take that medication for a period of time or abruptly stop taking it.

Once someone develops a tolerance that progresses into a dependence on a substance, they are moving ever close to the development of addiction. Note that this and dependence are not the same things as addiction. Addiction involves mental and behavioral aspects as well as a physical dependence, and it’s characterized by compulsive substance use despite negative consequences.

If you suspect you have developed a tolerance and dependency on prescription drugs, illicit drugs, or alcohol, it’s important to seek immediate professional help. A high-quality addiction treatment facility can assess your situation, and once you are evaluated by an addiction specialist, a personalized treatment plan can be designed that can put you on the road to recovery.