Treatment Recommendations

Treatment is often the beginning of recovery process  but it is not always possible for a variety of reasons... work, cost, time....-while deciding AA & NA, Celebrate Recovery and other support groups are a great way to begin a new healthy lifestyle.   Treatment programs are similar to taking a course (many different levels from a crash course to a “PHD” level depending on what meets the needs of the individual).  It is not a cure but a stepping stone towards recovery.

Treatment programs are often the next stop after detoxing.  Be assured any program even the best is only successful if the person implements this healthy lifestyle when they transition home (often a new environment is the healthiest). 

RECOMMENDATIONS: Essential components for a potential successful program whether residential, outpatient, or at-home should include:  intense/formal follow-up programs, highly structured program, family counseling sessions and spirituality components. 

Four Essential elements of programs that offer the best rate of success should include:

1. A highly structured program with a daily activities schedule - meetings and often assigned job tasks at the facility or partnerships with local shops/companies

2. A formal transition program - i.e.., residential to intense outpatient then tapering down to less intense outpatient program. Residential may not be necessary nor feasible. Look for intense outpatient programs. Some facilities offer structured evening programs- the key is to have a day full of structured activities particularly the first several months of recovery. Having a good relapse prevention program or recovery enhancement program will help a person with their transition back into the “real life” and allows a person to gradually utilize their newly acquired skills and strategies into their personal environment. Is there an alumni program?

3. FAMILY program - if the family is not involved in the recovery process, they certainly will be a part of the relapse process! The family or close friends need to educate themselves (be on the same page as the person in recovery) on the complexity of addiction and recovery.

4. Spirituality in program- Recovery involves the mind, body and spirit. Spirituality help a person find a purpose in life and renew a sense of hope. Spirituality has a personal meaning for every individual but most importantly it will offer a person a since of hope and meaning.  Spirituality is “an inner sense of something greater than oneself. Recognition of a meaning to existence that transcends one's immediate circumstances.”  Spirituality is distinct from religion. The AA/NA programs works on developing the spiritual side to life and a successful recovery. In my opinion, it is moving from the self-centered life of an addict to a compassionate, self-giving life of a caring, person working on recovering.

Medically Assisted Treatment Options

CHECK FACILITY REVIEWS...before calling to save time... all places look great on the website- marketing is good but reality is how the patients and family have been served. 

Evidence-based programs are key to treatment and recovery.  Evidence based practice (EBP) is the conscientious use of current best evidence in making decisions about patient car. The three components of evidence-based practice: clinical expertise, current best evidence, and client/patient perspectives.

  1. If person is in detox or hospital... begin to develop a treatment and recovery plan.
  2. The person should begin to attend support meetings also helpful for families and friends to attend cooresponsing meetings.  
  3. Begin random drug testing. 
  4. Begin to educate yourself, the person with addiction and family. The more you learn, the more successful treatment and recovery will be for everyone.  link to literature 

Because denial is often a characteristic of addiction, many people who are addicted to or who abuse drugs won't seek medical treatment on their own. Family members, friends or co-workers may need to persuade the user to undergo screening for drug addiction. Breaking a drug addiction may involve counseling, an outpatient treatment program or residential treatment.  

It is important to remember that many opiate addicts relapse after their first detox/recovery attempt because they don't have a recovery plan nor a support group they are quickly willing to become engaged in as soon as they detox. 

Statistically the recovery rate for those people who attend programs voluntarily vs. those people who are forced into recovery are the same. Most people suffering with an addiction are not capable of making good decisions (if he/she were able to make a healthy & rational decision surely he/she would decide to stop using and seek help). 

Don’t confuse cost of a program with the quality of a program. The more you pay doesn’t equate to a superior program. Some of the best programs are run by non-profit organizations particularly those run by churches. Often 30-day programs are a little more than a glorified detox. If you think you need to go to a residential program and can only afford it for 30-days then look for a program that has a good outpatient (follow-up) program. It make take 2-3 years to relearn how to make healthy, rational decisions and to build confidence in your new lifestyle.

Building Bridges - A Tip Sheet for Families Considering a Residential Program

Recovery is similar to learning a foreign language!

Recovery is similar to learning a new language– a person may submerse themselves in learning a new language maybe go to a another country (rehabilitation).  Learn the language and feel confident. When they return home, to an environment that does not speak the language, maintaining fluency (maintaining a drug-free life)  is difficult.  The person should attend groups that know the same language (NA, AA meetings, support groups… ).  Not only does this help maintain fluency but the person may find comfort knowing others who speak the language and make new friends who enjoy similar activities.  The family should attempt to learn some words or sentences to help the person remain fluent (stay sober).  The family needs to help and be helped too. Attend support meetings to learn the ‘language’ (better understanding this disease) and realizing other people are going through similar situation is often very useful for the family and for the individual.  

Addiction Rosary- For Families and Loved Ones Struggling with Addiction 

Recovery Process

Recovery is an ongoing process to obtain and maintain good health and learn how to make healthy & safe choices. It is not a quick fix i.e. go to a program and come home fixed.  It is more like a program to learn a new language.  The person goes to a foreign country to learn a new language.  He/she learns the language, becomes proficient, then comes home.  No one in the house speaks the language... what happens?  In order for a person to maintain a healthy lifestyle they must continue to use the new language they have learned... this means going to support groups, counseling and engaging in other activities to help maintain this healthy lifestyle.

The reality is that it is possible for people who have struggled with addiction to lead productive drug-free lives; however this may be more difficult for some people than others and may require multiple relapses.  Due to the complexity of the disease determining who will succeed, what type of program is best and when a person will triumph over this disease is frustrating impossible to predict.
As you may have gathered abstinence from one’s substance of choice is really only the first step to a success recovery. The body , mind and soul have to change from artificial substances controlling their lives to living in the real world, making good decisions and beginning to enjoy life drug-free.
The goal with any program should be to help the person develop good, new skills that become good, new habits that continue after the official program is completed.  Without continuing these habits and further developing these skills relapse is more than likely inevitable.
Participate in good support groups, AA or similar to get support with maintaining a drug-free life, other support groups such as church, sports clubs, book clubs… your interest…
  • Eat well, establish good sleeping habits & exercise
  • Develop a spiritual life to maintain hope and guidance at all times
  • Stay busy; establish a structured life
  • Formally serve others when the time is right
  • When the time is right do something you have always wanted to do… study a new language, new hobby, join a local sports team, join a book club.


Abstinence is the first step in recovery from drug abuse or addiction.. Also, needs to  address the physical and psychological damages the body and mind have undergone. At a minimum begin attending support group meetings while looking for a good counselor or psychologist that will work with the family. Physically, the person most likely has neglected food and exercise and would rather drink or use than do anything else. The lack have food and exercise may have made the body and mind weak. When a person first stops using he/she may suffering from withdrawal symptoms (often flu-like symptoms), and may be depressed.  The brain is struggling to balance itself without the use of artificial chemicals.  Strongly encourage them to eat well-balanced meals. Begin walking everyday then gradually begin to increase exercising. A person may crave sugar products/drinks while in the beginning stages of recovery.

SUCCESSFUL recovery is consistently maintaining the new healthy lifestyle...such as committing to a support group, leading a structured life, continuing faith-based support...


Treatment and Recovery

SAMHAS Help Line

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Information- 

SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357) 
SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

The first question on your mind may be “What is a facilities rate of success?” Facilities often seem vague when attempting to answer this question or may state something outrageous such as 99%. The reality is many people struggle with addiction for the rest of his/her lives but they still lead productive lives... if they continue to engage in the activies that helped them in the beginning of their recovery... Treatment questions may include: How many clients are clean six months after leaving the facility, one year, two years, five years? (Often people who relapse do not return to the same facility or admit they relapsed... most likely the person did not maintain a healthy lifestyle...might not be a reflection of the program but the person's commitment and environment), How many clients are returning clients?, What is the follow-up program after a client completes residential treatment or out-patient treatment?...If a person is in residential treatment for a year then relapses a few weeks after “completing” the program was the program successful ?Bottom line this is a difficult question to answer. Was it the program or the person who makes it successful or unsuccessful?   

Interview facilities to better understand their philosophy and policies.

1. What type of accreditation or licensing does the program have?
National accreditation programs (such as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Organizations, the Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission, the National Committee for Quality Assurance, and the All-States) look for elements of treatment that research has shown to be effective. Accreditors also require a well-documented patient complaint process. Remember that "state licensing" is not the same as accreditation, since states vary widely in their licensing requirements. Failure to obtain accreditation may mean nothing but it could indicate fringe status or, in the worst case, a quasi-cult or an abusive form of "care."

2. Have there been studies to measure the effectiveness of the program's treatment methods?
Treatment effectiveness is a new field of study, so it is too early to expect all providers to have full research-based evaluations of their methods. Still, it is not too early for them to be planning these studies. The most objective evaluations usually come from external agencies rather than "in-house" evaluators.

3. What medications does the program support or prescribe to treat an addicted patient's other possible medical problems? Is its staff knowledgeable about and willing to consider the use of medication that may help treat addiction?
Many of addicted patients' medical symptoms may be complications of addiction, and clear up after a period of sobriety, but this is not always the case. Clinical depression, anxiety, or conditions can undermine chances for recovery. The best treatment programs evaluate patients for such problems shortly after admission and offer appropriate medical care, including medication if indicated. Also, medications such as methadone, naltrexone, and disulfiram (Antabuse), can be effective in helping some addicts. Treatment centers should discuss them with patients.

4. What sort of "aftercare" does the program offer?
Short-term treatment by itself is not enough to sustain recovery in most patients. Aftercare is crucial, preferably at least a year of weekly or biweekly outpatient counseling, plus participation in Twelve-Step programs (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) or other addiction self-help groups (such as Rational Recovery or Women for Sobriety). A good treatment program will actively help the patient integrate into a self-help group, although patients sometimes have to "shop around" to find the one in which they feel most comfortable.

5. What does the program do about relapse?
Unfortunately, relapse is a common occurrence in substance abuse treatment “just as it is in treatment for other chronic illnesses. A good program includes relapse prevention classes that teach patients to recognize and avoid or deal with situations and emotional states that could trigger relapse. It should also have a plan for the patient's reentering treatment and/or support groups to prevent a one-time lapse from becoming a full-blown return to active addiction. Relapse “though demoralizing“ can be an important learning experience; but the individual may need further help.

6. Does the program accept your insurance? If not, will they work with you on a payment plan or find other means of support for you?

7. Is the facility clean, organized and well-run?

8. Does the program encompass the full range of needs of the individual (medical: including infectious diseases; psychological: including co-occurring mental illness; social; vocational; legal; etc.)?

9. Does the treatment program also address sexual orientation and physical disabilities as well as provide age, gender, and culturally appropriate treatment services?

10. Is there ongoing assessment of an individual's treatment plan to ensure it meets changing needs?

11. Does the program employ strategies to engage and keep individuals in longer-term treatment, increasing the likelihood of success?

12. Does the program offer counseling (individual or group) and other behavioral therapies to enhance the individual's ability to function in the family/community?

13. Are services or referrals offered to family members to ensure they understand addiction and the recovery process to help them support the recovering individual?

Other questions to consider:
What is the assessment procedure for dual diagnosis?
What if a person in the program wants to leave?
What kind of mental health professionals do they have?  psychiatrists? other physicians?
      -If a patient gets sick, who assesses the patient? other mental health professionals?
Number of patients a therapist, psychologist or counselor has?
How often do the professional involved see a patient?
Is there a program manager?

Typically- psychiatrist administer medication and discuss with a patient if the medication is working and how the patient is adjusting to the medication vs. a psychologist using his/her skills and knowledge of addiction helps the client learn to make good, healthy rational choices and decision to help the client remain drug-free and lead a productive and fully functional life.

Better Understanding Treatment: (More to think about...)
National Institute of Drug Addiction  (NIDA)
  1. No single treatment is appropriate for all individuals. Matching treatment settings, interventions, and services to each patient's problems and needs is critical.
  2. Treatment needs to be readily available. Treatment applicants can be lost if treatment is not immediately available or readily accessible.
  3. Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug use. Treatment must address the individual's drug use and associated medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems.
  4. Treatment needs to be flexible and to provide ongoing assessments of patient needs, which may change during the course of treatment.
  5. Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical for treatment effectiveness. The time depends on an individual's needs. For most patients, the threshold of significant improvement is reached at about 3 months in treatment. Additional treatment can produce further progress. Programs should include strategies to prevent patients from leaving treatment prematurely.
  6. Individual and/or group counseling and other behavioral therapies are critical components of effective treatment for addiction. In therapy, patients address motivation, build skills to resist drug use, replace drug-using activities with constructive and rewarding nondrug-using activities, and improve problem-solving abilities. Behavioral therapy also facilitates interpersonal relationships.
  7. Medications are an important element of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies. Methadone and levo-alpha-acetylmethadol (LAAM) help persons addicted to opiates stabilize their lives and reduce their drug use. Naltrexone is effective for some opiate addicts and some patients with co-occurring alcohol dependence. Nicotine patches or gum, or an oral medication, such as bupropion, can help persons addicted to nicotine.
  8. Addicted or drug-abusing individuals with coexisting mental disorders should have both disorders treated in an integrated way. Because these disorders often occur in the same individual, patients presenting for one condition should be assessed and treated for the other.
  9. Medical detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug use. Medical detoxification manages the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal. For some individuals it is a precursor to effective drug addiction treatment.
  10. Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective. Sanctions or enticements in the family, employment setting, or criminal justice system can significantly increase treatment entry, retention, and success.
  11. Possible drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously. Monitoring a patient's drug and alcohol use during treatment, such as through urinalysis, can help the patient withstand urges to use drugs. Such monitoring also can provide early evidence of drug use so that treatment can be adjusted.
  12. Treatment programs should provide assessment for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases, and counseling to help patients modify or change behaviors that place them or others at risk of infection. Counseling can help patients avoid high-risk behavior and help people who are already infected manage their illness.
  13. Recovery from drug addiction can be a long-term process and frequently requires multiple episodes of treatment. As with other chronic illnesses, relapses to drug use can occur during or after successful treatment episodes. Participation in self-help support programs during and following treatment often helps maintain abstinence.

Detox is not treatment; it’s the first phase of getting stable so a person can connect to the right level of care.

Medical Detoxification is a process whereby individuals are systematically withdrawn from addicting drugs in an inpatient or outpatient setting, typically under the care of a physician. Detoxification is sometimes called a distinct treatment modality but is more appropriately considered a precursor of treatment, because it is designed to treat the acute physiological effects of stopping drug use. Medications are available for detoxification from opiates, nicotine, benzodiazepines, alcohol, barbiturates, and other sedatives. In some cases, particularly for the last three types of drugs, detoxification may be a medical necessity, and untreated withdrawal may be medically dangerous or even fatal.

Detoxification is most often a precursor of treatment.

Detox Facility: Take the person to an emergency room if you can’t find a facility or have any reason to believe the situation is life threatening... particularly if drugs and/or alcohol have been mixed... don’t hesitate to take the person to an emergency room     Search the internet for local detox centers.

SEE Support Groups     Recommendations:  Choosing between an AA and a NA meeting or Al-Anon and Nar-Anon is a personal choice all follow the twelve step philosophy of recovery.  Depending on where you live and the availability of meetings you and/or your family may want to attend a few different meetings to determine which one bests fits your personal needs. Getting involved and committed may prove to be more beneficial in your recovery process. 

Why should a person with an addiction avoid all mind- altering chemicals (alcohol, drugs, even limiting caffeine and sugar)?  
“Cross-addiction going from one drug to another, i.e. alcohol to marijuana, heroin to cocaine, etc., etc.  the underlying reason is that the addict’s body chemistry is addictive, therefore, hyper-sensitive to all addictive substances, even if the effects of the substance are different.  Thus the brain remains in addictive mode, even if the original drug is not taken.”   

Free Naloxone in Florida


Support Groups

Website Tags
A Journey to Healing Hearts- Tampa Bay

This is a support group for those who know the feeling of devastation at the loss of a loved one or friend to a drug related incident. This is an open support group that meets monthly so family members or friends can provide bereavement support to each other.

Support Group, Tampa Bay
Adderall Addiction Support

If you don’t really need to take it, Adderall side effects can be very serious, because it is technically an amphetamine, a dangerous type of drug for anyone to abuse.  Although very rare, an overdose of Adderall can cause cardiac issues, stroke and death.
The most common side effects people experience when abusing Adderall are not life-threatening. That said, there other side effects that are dangerous and demand immediate medical attention.  
Link to infograph

Support Group, Adderall, infographic, National

Al-Anon is a mutual support group of peers who share their experience in applying the Al-Anon principles to problems related to the effects of a problem drinker in their lives.

ALSO, Alateen is a peer support group for teens who are struggling with the effects of someone else’s problem drinking.

Support Group, National
Alcoholics Anonymous Support Group, National
Celebrate Recovery

Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered, 12 step recovery program for anyone struggling with hurt, pain or addiction of any kind. Celebrate Recovery is a safe place to find community and freedom from the issues that are controlling our life.


Support Group, National
City of Angels- NJ

Hello, and welcome to the City of Angels website. City of Angels NJ, Inc. was founded in January of 2009 after identifying the needs in our community of the addicted and their families for increased support, interventions and referrals. At COA, we offer support with the hope that we may be able to give people calm guidance as they approach the daily challenges faced by those affected with addictions.  

Support Group, New Jersey
Compassionate Friends

The Compassionate Friends (TCF) is an international organization with over 600 local chapters across the United States. It was founded in Coventry, England, in 1969, by Rev. Simon Stephens. When two young boys died within days of each other, Rev. Stephens brought the parents of these children together in hopes they could best support and understand each other through this painful loss. TCF's longevity is a testament to this form of parents helping parents

Support Group, Maryland
Drugfree- One on One Help

Get One-on-One Help to Address Your Child’s Substance Use
Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling or other caregiver — our Helpline is here for you and anyone else playing a supportive role in the life of a young person struggling with drug or alcohol use.  Our trained and caring specialists are ready to listen, help you find answers and make an action plan to help your loved one.  You can connect in the following ways, with support available in English and Spanish:

Support, Parents, text, e-mail, call, Support Group, National
GreifNet is an Internet community of persons dealing with grief, death, trauma, and major loss. Our grief support groups operate 24-hours/day, 365 days/year. Members participate when they wish and are able to, not at a set time. When one member of a group sends an email message to the group, everyone in the group receives a copy. This allows many people to respond with love and caring to the thoughts and feelings of an individual, day and night, year-round.

Support Group, Internet, National

Learn to Cope is a non-profit support network that offers education, resources, peer support and hope for parents and family members coping with a loved one addicted to opiates or other drugs.

Support Group, Massachusetts
Marijuana Anonymous Support Group, National

By moms and for moms, our mission is to help moms with addicted children find strength, wisdom, perspective, sanity and hope.

By moms and for moms, is the place for moms with addicted children to turn when love and addiction meet. A place where empowerment blooms from helplessness and pain. Together we are stronger.

Support Group, Online
Nar Anon

The Nar-Anon Family Groups is primarily for those who know or have known a feeling of desperation concerning the addiction problem of someone very near to you. We have traveled that unhappy road too, and found the answer with serenity and peace of mind.
When you come into the family group, you are no longer alone, but among true friends who understand your problem as few others could. We respect your confidence and anonymity as we know you will respect ours. We hope to give you the assurance that no situation is too difficult and no unhappiness is too great to be overcome.

Support Group, National
PALS- Parents of Addicted Loved Ones

Parents of Addicted Loved ones provides hope and support through addiction education for parents dealing with an addicted loved one.   Find a meeting- local meetings!  Facebook

Support Group, National
Sanity Support

A day seldom goes by when I don’t hear from someone who has read one of the (now seven) books in the bestselling Setting Boundaries series or has heard a radio talk show or television program where I’ve been interviewed about this topic. It’s especially exciting to hear from readers who have found sanity by implementing the Six Steps to S.A.N.I.T.Y. and are experiencing life-changing transformation in their challenging relationships.  Online support and private Facebook.

Support Group, National
Steve Rummler Hope Network

We understand addiction. Many of our volunteers and staff have personal connections to the disease. Whether we ourselves struggle or our loved ones have, we know the importance of hope.  Located in Minnesota.

Support Group, MN
Take 12 Recovery Radio

Take 12 Recovery Radio and KHLT Recovery Broadcasting is a Faith-Based Recovery Talk and Positive Music Internet Radio Station.

The world's oldest recovery radio station broadcasting recovery talk and positive music 24 hours a day with a unique recovery focused show updated weekly. In addition to our weekly shows we have recovery workshops and special broadcast that air monthly.

Recovery, Radio, Support Group