Short for detoxification, many who enter treatment still have chemicals in their systems and will need medical supervision while their bodies adjust to living without these substances. For some, such as heroin and other opiate users, the “detox” process will primarily help with the patient’s comfort level. For those who have been using drugs such as alcohol or Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, and other common prescription tranquilizers) medical intervention is not a luxury but a necessity, as the physical withdrawal from these and other chemicals is potentially deadly.


Following the initial “drying out” period (another term used for the detoxification phase), most treatment centers offer a strong educational component to their programs. During this time patients learn about the drugs they and others have been using, how they affect their bodies, their families, lives, and society as a whole, and information about the disease of addiction. In addition, various coping skills and relapse prevention methods are taught to prepare patients for leaving treatment.

Group Sessions

Perhaps the most common practice among treatment facilities is to enable the community to gather in groups and discuss their addictions, most often in a structured format. Usually the day will begin with such an assembly, and end in the same manner. These sessions may be facilitated by center staff, by group peer members, or a combination. During this time, those in treatment are given the opportunity to share their common experiences, challenges, and hopes in a structured environment where they can find support.

Family Meetings

Many treatment centers stress the importance of family involvement with the treatment and recovery process, and have one or more opportunities for family members to participate in either educational or therapeutic aspects of treatment, if not both.

Aftercare Planning

Most often developed by the patient with the help of a primary counselor, an Aftercare Plan is a framework for sustained sobriety and recovery to continue beyond treatment – basically the “what next” plan. It may consist of a combination of possibilities depending on individual needs and abilities such as weekly substance abuse counseling, IOP (Intensive Outpatient) treatment, AA or NA meetings, residence at a halfway house, and other personal goals.