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.