Addiction | 4 min read

Designing a Comprehensive Substance Abuse Treatment Plan

Medically Reviewed

Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

On September 4, 2022

Written By

Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

On February 25, 2019

Best New Jersey Substance Abuse Counseling
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Getting clean is the primary focus for many seeking to escape the distressing effects of substance abuse and addiction. While this is a very important first step, a good treatment plan will incorporate more than just this initial procedure. A comprehensive substance abuse treatment plan must consider the ongoing obtainment and utilization of the tools necessary for sustaining wellness beyond the detox stage.

Most treatment programs include an initial screening. The staff obtains basic information about the potential patient during the screening process. This gathered information may include the patient’s age, substance type, and current risk levels. These factors can help the treatment center to decide whether the patient’s needs are a good fit for admission. More in-depth information about the patient can be obtained following a screening process.

To ensure the best outcomes of sustained sobriety, the presence of validated assessment tools  – administered before, during, and after the initial course of treatment – should be present within the program. These assessments can determine a patient’s strengths and pinpoint areas that need extra support during recovery. An example of the types of areas present in effective screening tools can be found on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website. Ideally, these assessments will be conducted by a highly trained professional familiar with the specific substance addiction and the assessment design.

Elements of a Comprehensive Substance Abuse Treatment Plan

Utilizing the information obtained from these assessments, a comprehensive substance abuse treatment plan can be developed. The term comprehensive refers to the idea that all aspects of a recovering person’s life will be considered during treatment. Both the current situation and the patient’s goals are incorporated into the plan. The major areas of life focus are physical, mental-emotional, and social needs.

Physical Needs

A famous model of human needs, referred to as Maslow’s Hierarchy, demonstrates the importance of tending to physical needs as one recovers from substance abuse and addiction. In this model, our physical needs form the base of our entire growth system. Without the basic provisions of food, safety, and healthcare, our physical bodies tend to stop working, making further progress impossible. For this reason, a comprehensive substance abuse treatment plan should address questions about the patient’s primary needs:

  • Housing: Where will the patient be staying during recovery?
  • Transportation: How will the patient get to and from the facility?
  • Medical: Which medications will be most efficient in treating this particular withdrawal? What are other health concerns present?
  • Safety: What steps will be taken to ensure that the patient is well cared for?

Mental & Emotional Needs

As the initial symptoms of physical withdrawal from a substance subside, many former users find that their levels of stress, depression, and anxiety increase. This may be because the drugs masked preexisting mental health issues for some. For others, the change of ceasing to depend on a substance can bring on stress. In either case, studies have consistently shown that those who continue receiving ongoing mental and emotional treatment following initial detox are more likely to abstain from substance abuse successfully. Comprehensive substance abuse treatment plans should, therefore, include components such as the following:

  • Education: What does the patient need to know about maintaining sobriety?
  • Therapy: What mental health issues does the patient struggle with? What do the patients need to discover about themselves and others?
  • Compassion and Support: Which type of struggles are unique to this individual, and how can we help?

Social Needs

Human beings are social creatures. There is not much of what we do in life that is not somehow connected to another human being. Both the use of drugs – and abstaining from them – can have a tremendous impact on our social life. Aspects of our social life include interactions with those in our family and friends groups and our experience within the workforce and with the law. Some social questions that are addressed in a comprehensive treatment plan are as follows:

  • Family and Friends: What does the recovering person need from loved ones? What do loved ones need from the recovering person?
  • Work: What needs to happen for the recovering person to obtain, or maintain, employment?
  • Legal: Are there any legal hurdles that have occurred as a result of the substance use or cessation? Which legal resources are needed?

A comprehensive treatment plan should be a dynamic and evolving guideline for wellness. Through ongoing case management, the plan can be adapted and modified as necessary. Situations requiring modification of initial treatment plan factors can include the patient’s concerns about the treatment, changes in the patient’s life circumstances, or the discovery of new information which would be beneficial to include within the plan.

In addition to the services the treatment center is providing, a comprehensive substance abuse treatment plan will also include access to referral and community resources. In many cases, the treatment center will already work with the patient’s primary care physician. Further resource integration can include plans for interacting with local therapeutic facilities and programs, such as scheduling ongoing attending of religious or other support group meetings. The treatment plan should also include a road map for cessation of intensive intervention, as the patient’s sobriety eventually enters the long-term maintenance phase.

The most evolved form of substance abuse treatment planning also considers cultural factors. A person’s culture can refer to specifics such as race, sex, family status, and even residency location. Many studies have indicated how and where we grow up can impact how we view the world. These unique perspectives on life lend themselves to customized approaches toward generating mindsets and motivations for sustaining wellness. Without considering a person’s culture, treatment providers may be less successful in connecting with a patient’s needs and goals.

Are you or a loved one seeking alcohol, drug, or opioid treatment in New York? Contact our detox facility to learn more about our treatment options and programs.

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