The Three Stages of Drug Addiction Treatment

Drug and alcohol addiction is a rising issue in the world today and one that is not easy to overcome. Many individuals will need an intensive and supportive treatment program in which they can effectively overcome their addiction. Before the individual enters an alcohol treatment center, it is important to note the stages of drug addiction treatment. While many people understand that entering an alcohol addiction treatment center means they are seeking treatment, they might not understand the stages of the process and what to expect. This article will explain the three stages of drug addiction treatment in order for those experiencing drug addiction, and their loved ones can know what to expect from the treatment process and can better understand what they will be encountering.

Detoxification and Withdrawal

The first stage of drug and alcohol treatment is detoxification and withdrawal. This is the stage in which the person will first enter an alcohol addiction treatment center or drug addiction treatment center. During this stage, the individual will experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms as their body reacts to the ceasing of the drug use. These symptoms are a result of the body cleansing itself of the toxins that it has received throughout the drug use. This stage is very difficult and uncomfortable and is often the most trying stage physically. Some typical withdrawal symptoms can include delirium, fever, hallucinations, seizures, etc. and can sometimes require medical attention. Until the body and the brain have fully adjusted to life without the use of drugs or alcohol, this stage will continue. It is beneficial for the individual to be at an alcohol treatment center in order to receive the medical care needed during this stage, as well as the ability to gain coping skills throughout the process.

Rehabilitation and Treatment

The second stage of addiction treatment is the rehabilitation and treatment stage. This is the stage in which the individual has completely recovered physically from the withdrawal stage and is ready for therapeutic treatment. This stage includes many forms of treatment such as individual therapy, group sessions, psycho-educational groups, medication, and education. While everyone has a different set of needs and an individualized treatment plan is important, in-patient programs are proven to be very effective forms of treatment, as the individual can receive a number of treatments in this setting. This stage of recovery can last for any amount of time, from months to years, depending on the individual and the treatment program. In all reality, those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction are always considered to be in “recovery” and can benefit from continued therapy, psycho-educational groups, AA meetings, etc.


The third stage of addiction treatment is the maintenance stage. This is the stage that results in the individual having successfully completed a treatment program and combated their addiction. Once the individual is deemed as in recovery and drug-free for some time, the maintenance stage begins. This stage means that while the individual might not be receiving intensive treatment, they are attending support groups or meetings, have a support system, or know where to seek help should those feelings for use rise again. This stage also includes implementing the coping techniques that were learned during the rehabilitation stage. The maintenance stage is perhaps the most important stage of treatment, as it the final and lasting stage of treatment. Once an individual overcomes an addiction, the struggle continues. The maintenance stage is important in that it is always continuing, and the individual is responsible for maintaining and healthy and drug-free lifestyle.