Levels of Care in Addiction Treatment - California Addiction Rehab

Understanding the Different Levels of Care in Addiction Treatment

More than 20 million Americans struggle with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, but only 10% receive the treatment they need. For the people who do seek treatment, choosing the right treatment program can be challenging and confusing.

There are many different substance abuse treatment centers to choose from in Southern California, but each one is unique in the programs they offer. Some drug and alcohol rehab centers only offer residential services while others only offer outpatient services. Many rehab centers offer a full continuum of care consisting of different levels of treatment designed to match addiction severity.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, choosing the right treatment program is essential for your recovery. Speak with a team member at ARISE Treatment Center today to figure out which level of care is right for you.

Why are There Different Levels of Care in Addiction Treatment?

On a clinical level, drug addiction and alcoholism are diagnosed as substance use disorders (SUDs). SUDs come in different severities ranging from mild to moderate and severe. In other words, some people have more severe addictions than others.

Someone with a severe substance use disorder may require medical care and around-the-clock monitoring while someone with a mild SUD may be able to recover solely on an outpatient basis. Treatment needs vary greatly depending on the progression of the patient’s addiction, how quickly they respond to treatment, and the overall status of their mental health.

Different levels of care offer multiple options for people seeking addiction treatment so they can attend the right program based on their needs. Many people choose to start treatment at a higher level of care, then transition down to lower levels of care as they make progress in their treatment plan and recovery program.

inpatient level of care in addiction treatment

Levels of Care

The different levels of care you may find in an addiction treatment program include:


Detox is often viewed as the first step toward sobriety. This is because the first obstacle you will face when getting sober is withdrawal symptoms.

Drug and alcohol withdrawal can be intense, and in some cases life-threatening, so it’s always important to detox under close medical supervision. Medical detox centers offer around-the-clock care and support in the form of medications, holistic therapies, and peer groups.

Detox typically lasts less than two weeks. Most inpatient substance abuse treatment centers offer detox services as part of their program, but rehab centers that offer outpatient only may not offer detox.

Inpatient Residential Rehab

After detox, inpatient or residential rehab is the next highest level of care. Many people transition to an inpatient rehab after detoxing.

During inpatient rehab, patients stay in a residential or hospital-like setting among other patients. Some facilities offer private rooms, but most require you to share your room with another patient.

Inpatient rehab centers offer 24/7 supervision and behavioral health support. They are great for people with severe addictions, co-occurring disorders, or those who do not have access to safe, supportive housing.

Inpatient addiction treatment programs operate on a basis of structure and routine. Your day may look like:

  • Waking up and taking your medications at the nursing station
  • Meeting with your peers for a morning exercise or activity
  • Individual therapy
  • Group process therapy
  • Lunch
  • Group process therapy
  • Downtime
  • Dinner
  • 12-Step meeting
  • Lights out

Inpatient rehab allows you the time, space, and separation from the stressors of daily life so you can focus all of your energy on the healing process. It is also great for addressing underlying causes of addiction, such as mental health or trauma. With fewer distractions and more support, inpatient rehab is one of the most effective levels of care in addiction treatment.

People spend anywhere from 28 days to three months in residential treatment depending on their needs.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Partial hospitalization programs (PHP), sometimes known as day treatment, are a step down from residential care. PHP is best compared to a full-time job. You will spend the majority of your day at treatment participating in therapy, but you can return home at night.

PHP offers all of the same daily services as inpatient rehab does, but with the freedom to be able to sleep in your own bed and see your family at night. This level of care features structure and routine with a touch of freedom, allowing you to start adjusting to life in sobriety outside of a treatment facility.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

After completing inpatient rehab or PHP, many people transition to an intensive outpatient program (IOP). IOP can also serve as a stand-alone treatment option for people with mild substance use disorders who also have a supportive home environment.

IOP can be compared to a part-time job. You will spend 3-4 hours a day, several days a week at the substance abuse treatment facility. Most of IOP is spent in group therapy sessions focusing on real-world issues such as relapse prevention, obstacles in early recovery, and sober milestones. You may have 1-2 individual therapy sessions each week, allowing your therapist to tailor your treatment to meet your changing needs.

Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Rehab (OP)

Outpatient programs (OP) are one of the most popular addiction treatment options because they are affordable, flexible, and effective. Outpatient rehab is best for people who have already detoxed, completed a higher level of care, and/or have a mild substance use disorder.

Outpatient rehab is very similar to IOP, but it is slightly less intensive. Rather than spending 15-20 hours a week in treatment, outpatient rehab generally requires less than 5-10 hours of programming each week. You may spend 1-2 hours in group and individual therapy sessions 2-3 days of the week with the ability to work, go to school, or care for your family in the meantime.

Addiction Treatment Aftercare

Although aftercare may not involve formal treatment, aftercare services are promoted by many drug and alcohol rehab centers to help their patients remain sober after treatment. Addiction is a lifelong condition that can be treated with rehab, but not cured. Rehab can help you heal emotionally, learn healthy coping skills, and get prepared with resources, but it won’t keep you sober forever. You must continue making healthy choices and taking care of your mental health.

Aftercare programs exist to support you in the early months and years after rehab. Examples of aftercare programs include:

  • Alumni program – Participate in regular gatherings and recovery-based activities with other former patients of your rehab center.
  • Sober living – Stay in a sober home with other people in recovery after rehab to help hold yourself accountable for your sobriety.
  • Mental health counseling – Meet with a therapist each week to work through difficult emotions and stay on the right track.
  • Recovery coaching – Work with a sober coach who can help you make healthy decisions about your recovery.
  • 12-Step meetings – Attend 12-Step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) for fellowship and peer support.

Aftercare programs like these are effective at preventing relapse after rehab. Ask your rehab center about the aftercare services they offer and how they can help you stay sober.

outpatient level of care in addiction treatment

Deciding Which Addiction Treatment Program is Right For You

Everyone who struggles with addiction is unique and has their own personal treatment needs. The only way to determine which level of care is right for you is to consult with an addiction specialist.

When you call ARISE Treatment Center, a compassionate admissions counselor will begin the initial intake and admissions process. They will verify your insurance coverage, assess your needs, evaluate your current situation, and recommend the appropriate level of care for you.

People with more severe addictions or those with co-occurring health conditions are often referred to higher levels of care, but encouraged to step down to lower levels of care as their recovery progresses.

Start Your Recovery Today

ARISE Treatment Center is here to guide you through the journey toward a brighter and healthier future. Through a combination of comprehensive treatment programs such as drug and alcohol detox, inpatient residential drug rehab, outpatient treatment, and a wide range of addiction therapies, our mission is to help you get on the road to recovery so you can discover life outside of your addiction.

The road to recovery is just a phone call away. Call now to speak with one of our dedicated addiction specialists.


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