The Different Paths to Recovery - mountain laurel recovery centerIf you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, you have several treatment options to choose from.

Arguably, a short-term residential treatment program works best to help those suffering from substance abuse clear their body of the substances, learn about their illness, and gather the tools needed to sustain a lasting recovery.

Quit on Your Own

This works for some people. Depending on their circumstances, they may wake up one morning and decide they’ve had enough, that they have too much to lose if they continue their substance use, and that they’re ready to stop. And for whatever reason, their decision sticks.


  • It’s free. You don’t have to pay for professional treatment.


  • Depending on the type of substance you use and how long you’ve been using, your body may react poorly to withdrawal. You should let your doctor know of your plan to quit and ask about potential side effects.
  • Substance use often begins and sustains itself because of underlying emotional or physical issues like stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, or chronic pain. If the underlying issues aren’t addressed, chances are high that you will return to substance use, whether a few months or a few years down the road.


  • Just because this works for some people does not mean you should feel badly about yourself if it doesn’t work for you. When people are able to quit on their own, it’s usually because they have some pretty compelling reasons to get well: they likely already have a warm, loving family; a job they enjoy; a secure living situation; and/or a hobby or creative pursuit that fulfills them. Community and meaning are everything in recovery: if those things are already in place, recovery might be possible without professional help.

Quit with the Help of a Group Like AA or NA

You might know instinctively that you cannot quit on your own. In this case, you might decide to start attending a local support group made up of other people in recovery from alcohol or drug use.


  • It’s cheap. The meetings are free, although donations may be collected to help cover the costs of the snacks, room rental, etc.
  • You meet others like you and gain a support network. You might be assigned a sponsor, someone who has been in recovery awhile and can be on call to talk, answer questions, and help you work through cravings.


  • Same as above: withdrawal and sustainability might be issues depending on your situation.
  • As helpful as a support group of your peers can be, they are not professional therapists. If trauma or mental illness drives your substance use, your peers’ help can only go so far.

Go to Outpatient Treatment

There are three types of outpatient treatment: regular outpatient treatment, intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) and partial hospitalization programs (PHP). All of these are designed to allow clients to live at home and continue with work or school. These programs work best for those whose addiction is less severe and who do not have mental or physical health issues that would benefit from more intensive therapy.


  • It’s less expensive than residential treatment.
  • It can last as long as you need it to.
  • The hours are usually scheduled in the early mornings or evenings so that you won’t have to miss work, school, or family obligations.
  • You’ll meet people who can become a support network after you leave treatment.
  • Some programs involve family members as well.


  • Because you will still be living at home and encountering familiar people and places, you may have a harder time disengaging from everything that triggers your substance use.
  • Outpatient treatment does not always help you follow up with an aftercare program, so you will want to make sure you create a support network for yourself that will meet your long-term needs.


  • Not all outpatient programs are equal. If possible, choose one that includes professional counseling, both group and individual.

Go to Residential Treatment

When your addiction is severely compromising your health, your relationships, and your mental and emotional wellbeing, you will want to consider residential treatment.


  • You will be removed from the distractions of work, family, and social obligations so that you can focus solely on your recovery.
  • You will be removed from all of the environmental triggers that led to your substance use.
  • You’ll have a team of medical professionals at your service who will assess your physical, mental, and emotional health and create an individualized treatment plan.
  • You’ll make friends who can become a support network after you leave.
  • Your detox will be safe and comfortable, monitored 24/7 by medical professionals.
  • You’ll have time to work with individual counselors who will help you identify and work through the underlying issues that led to your addiction.
  • Your treatment team will help you plan an aftercare program to sustain your recovery.
  • You will be able, if you choose, to involve your family in your recovery. Many treatment programs offer family programs that educate and counsel family members about addiction.
  • Most programs provide healthy meals and physical fitness options, and many foster spirituality through creative expression, meditation, and/or yoga. Whatever the amenities, a good residential program fosters a holistic recovery, one that heals mind, body, and spirit.


  • These programs are expensive. However, financial help can often be arranged (see below). Also, consider that we tend to take more seriously the things we pay for. Making a financial commitment to recovery can help bolster your overall commitment to sustaining your health.
  • Residential treatment takes time. You will be away from your work and family obligations for about a month or more. However, there are options to help you take work leave, and your family would probably prefer that you be healthy, even if it means they have to do without you for awhile.


  • As with outpatient programs, not all residential programs are equal. Do your research. Talk to alumni of the facilities you’re interested in, talk to the staff members, read the reviews. Find a program that employs professional counselors and offers individual counseling in addition to group therapy. Visit the facility to see the campus and the amenities.

What about cost?

Financial constraints are understandably worrisome. You may already be in debt, perhaps largely due to your substance use; your income and work situation may be shaky at best; and you may have a family to support. It may seem like paying for treatment will build a debt from which you’ll never be free. This panic or hopelessness you might be feeling is, in some ways, just another excuse to stay where you are, to not commit to the work of getting healthy.

Here are some things to consider when it comes to cost:

  • Insurance may cover most or all of your treatment.
  • Some treatment centers offer scholarships based on income.
  • Five years from now, five years into your recovery, when your relationships have stabilized, when you are doing work you enjoy, when you are waking up every day with a clear head and looking forward to activities you’ll do and friends you’ll see, when you’re mentoring others who are in the place you once were, you’ll look back on this one month of disruption as the best decision you ever made.
If you or a loved one are in need of help from addiction, please contact us today.

Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). National Institute on Drug Abuse.