Recovery Center Blog

What are the Different Levels of Care in Addiction Treatment?

Written By Recovery Centers - April 12th, 2022
What are the Different Levels of Care in Addiction Treatment?

There are many different approaches to addiction treatment, but most rehab facilities offer multiple levels of care that are each uniquely designed to meet the needs of patients in all phases of their recovery journey. While most patients begin treatment with detox, the next level of care depends on the severity of a patient’s addiction as well as their life circumstances.

Understanding what the different levels of care in addiction treatment are and how they work can help you or a loved one decide which drug and alcohol rehab program is right for you.


The first level of care is detox. Most detox programs are residential and provide around-the-clock support and supervision. Medical detox centers have doctors, nurses, and psychiatrists on staff. The medical team can prescribe and administer medications that reduce the severity of your withdrawal symptoms.

This portion of rehabilitation usually lasts less than two weeks, with some patients only needing to stay for a couple of days. However, detox does not address the root causes of addiction–it merely helps you cope with withdrawal and the physical aspects of your addiction so you can stabilize your body and obtain medical help before starting treatment. As a result, a counselor will meet with you before you are discharged from detox to help you choose the next portion of your care.

Inpatient Residential Treatment

The next level of care most people participate in during addiction treatment is inpatient or residential. An inpatient drug and alcohol rehab center offers the highest level of care with 24/7 support and supervision. This is a great option for people with severe substance use disorders, co-occurring mental health conditions, and those who need intensive structure.

During residential treatment, you must live at the treatment facility throughout your stay and are not allowed to leave the premises without the proper approval. You will live in private or semi-private rooms among other patients. The majority of your days are spent in therapy and other recovery-related activities.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

After inpatient rehab comes partial hospitalization or PHP. PHP can be compared to a full-time job. You attend group and individual therapy sessions all day during the day, but return home or to sober living at night. This level of care offers the same structure that inpatient rehab does without an around-the-clock time requirement.

PHP can be used as a transitional program to help ease the shift from inpatient rehab to outpatient rehab or it can be used as a standalone treatment option for people with moderate to severe addictions who have a supportive home environment. It is also significantly cheaper than a residential program since you do not have to pay for housing or 24-hour supervision.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

One of the most popular levels of care in addiction treatment is intensive outpatient or IOP. IOP is similar to a part-time job in that you attend less than 20 hours of therapy sessions each week. Most IOPs have 3-4 group therapy sessions and one individual therapy session per week that you must attend.

IOP is best for people who are looking to continue their recovery after completing a higher level of care or those with mild to moderate addictions. Rather than focusing on diagnosis or the causes of substance abuse, IOP begins shifting the focus towards relapse prevention, healthy coping skills, support groups, and other services that you may need to achieve long-term sobriety.

Outpatient Program (OP)

Outpatient programs (OP) are similar in format to IOP, but they require fewer hours and are less intensive. If you attend outpatient rehab, you may only have to attend less than 10 hours a week of counseling. Most OPs involve one or two group therapy sessions and one individual therapy session on a weekly basis.

As the lowest level of care in drug rehab, this option is best for those who have already completed a continuum of care or those with mild substance use disorders. Like IOP, OP focuses less on the root causes of addiction and more on relapse prevention, life skills development, and peer support.

Aftercare Services

Although outpatient rehab is technically the last official level of care, it’s important to know that addiction recovery doesn’t stop when rehab does. Recovery, for many people, is an ongoing, life-long process. After finishing outpatient rehab, it’s a good idea to get involved in aftercare services.

Examples of aftercare services that can help you stay sober once you complete rehab include:

  • Mental health counseling
  • 12-Step fellowships
  • 12-Step alternatives
  • Sober living
  • Alumni program
  • Recovery coaching

Services such as these will help you continue growing in your recovery, develop healthy coping skills, and provide you with the support you require to stay sober.

How to Find Out Which Level of Care in Addiction Treatment is Right For You

Deciding to get help for addiction is an extremely brave thing to do, but choosing the right rehab center isn’t always easy. At, we have a team of addiction specialists standing by to take your call, assess your needs, and refer you to an addiction treatment center that meets your needs. Don’t wait any longer for the life-changing care you need. Call today to get started.