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Levels of Care for Substance Use Treatment

Levels of Care for Substance Use Treatment

Seeking treatment for substance use disorder is necessary for individuals wanting to gain back control over their lives. Substance use disorder can negatively impact an individual’s overall health, so finding the right treatment plan is necessary for progressing on the road to recovery. While all treatment programs have a similar goal of recovery, there are numerous types of programs and services that can help individuals become healthier and recover. 

Personalized treatment plans are essential for successful recovery because every patient is different and requires varying levels of care to get better.

The levels of care that treatment facilities offer can provide the best plan for every patient who needs help recovering from substance use disorder. Whether you’re looking for treatment for yourself or a loved one, finding the right format that fits your schedule and severity of addiction can create a path for a successful recovery.

Learn more about the levels of care for substance use treatment and how finding the right program is easy with a treatment provider like Gateway Foundation. 

Why Do We Need Levels of Care?

Substance use disorder looks different for every person. It can impact anyone regardless of age, ethnicity, income, occupation, location, gender or religion. Every person is unique, which is why the care provided by treatment facilities needs to have various levels to accommodate every individual who needs help. 

People can have various intensities of addiction. The severity of addiction depends on the drug, the length of substance use and any co-occurring mental health conditions. Certain drugs, like fentanyl and heroin, may require a stronger detoxification process with attentive medical care, while others like cocaine or marijuana have weaker withdrawal symptoms.

Why Do We Need Levels of Care?

How long a person has been using a substance can strengthen their dependency and make withdrawal symptoms or a lifestyle change more challenging to withstand. Individuals tackling a co-occurring mental health condition may also need additional care during treatment to ensure recovery is successful. These reasons and many others help explain why levels of care are necessary for treating substance use disorders.

Treatment facilities in the United States follow the standard levels of care set by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). The ASAM outlines five general levels of treatment for their continuum of care. These five levels are further detailed by a decimal point system that defines specific types of care for individuals struggling with substance use disorder.

The ASAM continuum of care levels is beneficial for patients because it allows flexible treatment options to plan the right approach for each individual. Treatment programs can meet patients’ needs by offering various options to match their lifestyles, schedules and severity of addiction.

The levels of care for substance use disorder treatment make transitioning from one method to the next simple. They give care providers a comprehensive outline of what treatment options can work best for the patient and what levels of care they should include in their plan.

The levels of care for substance use disorder treatment make transitioning from one method to the next simple.

How Does the Continuum of Care Work?

A continuum of care is essential for individuals recovering from substance use disorder to provide them the best treatment possible. A flexible continuum of several levels of care increases the chances of a successful treatment process and allows more patients to receive adequate care. More people will have a better chance of preventing relapse, overdose and other negative situations.

The continuum of care describes the process of easing patients into various steps of substance use treatment. A patient begins treatment in the highest level of care they need, whether it’s medical detoxification or outpatient treatment. After completing the first step in their treatment plan, they’ll move on to the next phase, which will be less intensive than the first. This process will continue until the patient is in full recovery and ready to merge into the real world with a new sober lifestyle.

The goal of ASAM’s continuum of care is to standardize substance use treatment across the country. It allows medical professionals and treatment facility staff to know what type of care is best for their patients and develop plans that will best match patient needs with assistance from a guideline. The continuum of care that treatment centers follow is also beneficial for insurance providers when determining coverage.

An example of how the continuum of care works in a facility would be a patient seeking treatment for opioid addiction and needing optimal care for recovery. The patient must first undergo monitored medical detoxification to tackle withdrawal symptoms and begin the next step of treatment while sober. Detoxification is the highest level of treatment a patient can participate in during treatment. 

The next step is residential inpatient treatment. After completing that stage, the patient may then transition into outpatient treatment while slowly integrating back into their life. If the patient relapses while in one of the lower stages, they can simply move up a step into the more intense treatment options to progress through recovery.

Substance use treatment centers create plans for patients with their offered levels of care or recommend other facilities that can provide the best treatment options for the patient.

If the patient relapses while in one of the lower stages, they can simply move up a step into the more intense treatment options to progress through recovery.

How Do Providers Determine the Level of Care?

The medical professionals at the treatment facility a patient is seeking care at will determine what levels of care are necessary for recovery, typically during an initial assessment. A medical professional will ask the patient numerous questions about themselves, their lifestyle, health and other factors impacting their substance use. This information will help the medical team best understand the patient’s state and the type of care they’ll need to recover from substance use disorder. This process is possible thanks to The ASAM Criteria.

The ASAM Criteria provide medical professionals with an outline they can use to develop structured treatment plans for their patients. The ASAM Criteria is the most widely used guideline for substance use treatment. It is regularly reviewed and revised when necessary to help medical professionals continue providing the best treatment for patients struggling with substance use disorder.

How Do Providers Determine the Level of Care?

Creating a treatment plan requires gathering a significant amount of information about the patient to produce a safe methodology that’s the least intensive option. The ASAM Criteria helps medical professionals filter through this extensive information gathered from initial interviews, clinical information, field knowledge and patient goals and narrow down the best treatment options.

The most prominent aspect of The ASAM Criteria is that the outline looks at the entire person rather than solely the substance use problem. This detail makes treatment plans more effective because medical professionals can tailor them to each patient by referencing numerous aspects of their lifestyle.

The ASAM Criteria is beneficial because of the six principles that helped guide its development. These principles can help patients and loved ones understand the treatment plan creation process from the medical professional’s point of view.

Principles of The ASAM Criteria include:

  • Consider the entire person: Approaching treatment simply on the substance use disorder diagnosis will only progress so far. While considering the substance use problem is crucial to creating a treatment plan, other patient details tell what level of care is best for their recovery. Many unique aspects make up the entirety of a person, and using that information about their lifestyle, interests and treatment history will help physicians or medical professionals select services and programs that will best match the patient.
  • Personalize treatment times: Patients may notice some treatment programs have a specified duration or are referred to by program length. A 28-day program will treat every patient for that duration, but The ASAM Criteria details that every individual’s treatment plan should last as long as needed. Individualized treatment times are beneficial for patients so that they don’t have to worry about rushing their recovery. Some people will take more time to recover, and others may only need a few sessions. 

Personalize treatment times

  • Create customized treatments for each individual: Treatment programs for substance use disorders should not be one-size-fits-all. Developing a plan for each patient is the best way to ensure they receive the levels of care they need. Care providers can determine the clinical services and programs that will help an individual most effectively or recommend other facilities or services that theirs doesn’t provide. The ASAM Criteria ensures medical professionals work hard to create excellent plans for every patient. 
  • Provide numerous services: While The ASAM Criteria outlines five general levels of care, treatment facilities should always consider an individual’s specific needs and offer numerous services and programs to help them through recovery. The general levels of care represent benchmarks on the continuum of care for substance use. Patients may need to receive care on every benchmark, a couple of benchmarks or between benchmarks. Individuals may also move up and down the continuum of care depending on their progress through recovery.
  • Treat patients without the prerequisite of failure: When a provider is creating a treatment plan, they shouldn’t consider a patient’s past “failures” in previous programs. The right level of care an individual needs is based on their substance use disorder, their personality, their lifestyle and other personal factors — not their previous success with other facilities.
  • Alter the definition of addiction: ASAM has provided its own definition of addiction that gives care providers an updated way of looking at the chronic condition. 

What Are the ASAM Levels of Care?

The standardized levels of care outlined by ASAM help make numerous treatment services available for patients struggling with substance use disorder. Medical professionals from various treatment facilities can discuss or recommend treatment options effectively when they are all providing the same levels of care. It’s helpful for patients to be aware of the broad levels of care when seeking treatment so they have an idea of what their treatment process will look like.

Care levels for the treatment of substance use disorders range from the least intense to most intense on the continuum of care. These five basic levels of care can also break down into more specific types of treatment. Learn more about these levels of clinical care and how each can improve a patient’s treatment plan.

Level 0.5 Early Intervention Service

The first level of substance use treatment is early intervention services. The early intervention level is beneficial for individuals who have a high risk of developing substance use disorder. This stage is also a fitting option for individuals who exhibit signs of substance use disorder but don’t hit the markers of the diagnosable criteria.

The goals of this level are to target the risk factors of substance use disorder and help individuals learn how to live a healthy lifestyle. Some of the risk factors for substance use disorder include:

  • Poor parental support
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Access to substances
  • Lack of close relationships

This level is a helpful preventative against developing substance use disorder and helps people with a family history of addiction learn how they can start the path of sobriety.

What Are the ASAM Levels of Care?

Level 1 Outpatient Treatment

The next level of care patients can participate in is outpatient services. Outpatient services are a popular option for individuals who are further along in their recovery and want to integrate back into the real world. Outpatient treatment is also a good first step for people who need addiction treatment but can’t miss out on obligations like work or school and are healthy enough to be unsupervised throughout the day.

Patients can continue maintaining their daily routines and live at their homes while attending outpatient appointments. People can schedule outpatient appointments at any point in the day to best fit their schedule. Outpatient treatment consists of regularly meeting with a physician or medical professional during the week, having access to various therapies or clinical services and receiving medications.

This level of care is lowest on the treatment scale because patients still live at their residence during treatment and are interacting with loved ones, co-workers and peers like usual.

Level 2 Intensive Outpatient Treatment and Partial Hospitalization

Individuals who need more care for their substance use disorder can receive intensive outpatient treatment or partial hospitalization services. These treatment programs are beneficial for people with more complex substance use disorders. This can mean a high severity of addiction or the presence of co-occurring disorders that require more attention and supervision.

Intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization services provide more resources for patients than traditional outpatient treatment. Here are further details about both treatment programs:

  • Level 2.1 Intensive Outpatient: Individuals who need more frequent outpatient appointments but still need to attend school, work or other obligations can benefit from intensive outpatient treatment. Patients can sign up for intensive outpatient appointments during the week, at night or on the weekends to ensure a good fit for their schedule. 
  • Level 2.5 Partial Hospitalization: Partial hospitalization treatment is the most intense out of the outpatient program levels. This level of care is best for individuals who need more supervision and medical resources during this point in their recovery process but have a supportive home to return to after treatment. Partial hospitalization has a similar schedule to work or school, so most of the patient’s day will be spent at treatment. 

Level 3 Residential/Inpatient Services

Patients who need around-the-clock supervision require a higher level of care to progress through recovery. Residential and inpatient services are best for patients who will benefit most from having access to medical staff and mental health professionals while they reside at the treatment facility. These patients may struggle if they continue with treatment while living at their homes — residential treatment can provide the care they need.

Treatment centers can provide various versions of residential treatment to accommodate multiple types of patients and ensure they have the right resources to provide the best inpatient care.

Level 4 Medically Managed Intensive Inpatient Services

Patients may require medically managed intensive inpatient services, which is the highest level of care from ASAM. This stage includes services like medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and medical detoxification. Patients who go into treatment with a heavy dependency on a substance and intense withdrawal symptoms will need help getting through these side effects. 

Medically managed intensive inpatient services are similar to the care patients receive at medical hospitals for acute cases. Patients will have access to 24/7 care for the duration of their treatment. Withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous or life-threatening, and this level of care can help individuals start their recovery safely. 

Our 16 facilities across the state strive to assist patients through their recovery and provide clinical services, broad levels of treatment programs and adequate care.

What Are the Levels of Care for Substance Use Treatment at Gateway Foundation?

Individuals living in Illinois can receive high-quality treatment and various levels of care from Gateway Foundation. Our 16 facilities across the state strive to assist patients through their recovery and provide clinical services, broad levels of treatment programs and adequate care. Patients will find that Gateway Foundation has the perfect treatment options for every level of substance use disorder.

The care levels we offer include withdrawal management, residential/inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient, outpatient treatment and family support and programming. These levels of care, along with our plentiful clinical services and therapies, create well-rounded treatment programs for patients in Illinois.

Explore the six levels of care available through Gateway Foundation and see how you or a loved one can receive an excellent treatment program tailored to your specific needs:

1. Detox/Withdrawal Management

The first step in many patients’ recovery process and our highest level of care is withdrawal management and detoxification. Our withdrawal management treatment program provides a safe and manageable detox process for patients to get them over the first step of their recovery journey.

Withdrawal describes the physical and mental effects an individual experiences when they quit using or reduce their intake of a substance they are dependent on. The withdrawal symptoms a person experiences can vary due to their genetics and the substance they’re using. Withdrawal side effects can range in intensity and duration, which can make becoming sober challenging for a patient. These symptoms can also be dangerous to an individual’s health, which makes withdrawal management a beneficial and necessary program for those who want to recover.

Gateway’s withdrawal management treatment program monitors and treats the various symptoms of withdrawal, including:

  • Congestion
  • Muscle pain
  • Mood changes
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Tremors
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations 

Substances like PCP, alcohol and opioids can have intense withdrawal symptoms that may require medical attention to ensure the patient moves forward in recovery. Other drugs like cocaine and marijuana have more mental withdrawal effects and fewer physical effects, which can make the withdrawal process faster. 

The first symptoms that dissipate through withdrawal management and detox are the physical effects. Conquering these symptoms is a big win in recovery and helps set the patient up to transition into a new phase of treatment. While the physical symptoms are reduced sooner, the mental and emotional effects of withdrawal may linger around longer. 

Withdrawal management can help patients learn how to recognize these symptoms and find ways to cope with them. These psychological symptoms are addressed through various therapies. Gateway offers numerous therapy options throughout the withdrawal management program to help patients progress through any mental or emotional symptoms.

Detox/Withdrawal Management

The withdrawal management program at Gateway Foundation comprises a team of medical staff, direct care from a physician, medication-assisted treatment when necessary and 24-hour care.

Certain withdrawal symptoms may be stronger than others, proving potentially dangerous for patients. Medical staff at Gateway Foundation can reduce some types of withdrawal symptoms with medication-assisted treatment. This type of withdrawal management treatment involves using prescription medications to help lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms. 

The most common application for MAT is opioid withdrawal. One medication used for this type of treatment is Suboxone, which helps prevent the brain from recognizing withdrawal symptoms.

2. Residential Treatment

Gateway Foundation’s next level of care for patients is residential inpatient treatment. This treatment option is beneficial for patients who require more resources and access to care during their recovery. The residential treatment Gateway offers allows individuals to have 24/7 care and medical supervision to ensure they are separated from any drugs and have the support they need to conquer their addiction.

Patients can experience triggers and cravings during recovery. While some individuals may have the support at home to help them stay sober during this process, others may need more structure in their treatment to prevent relapse. Residential treatment gives people the substance-free space they need for a safe recovery until they’re ready to integrate back into their community.

Residential Treatment

The residential inpatient approach is a unique experience for those going through substance use treatment. Patients will have access to medical staff and other professionals at any point in the day. Emergencies can occur outside of business hours when an individual is going through a tough recovery. Having continuous care available promotes a safe and healthy environment for you to grow and improve in before transitioning to a new level of care.

The medical staff at Gateway Foundation assesses patients to determine whether residential treatment is the right option for their recovery. The staff will look into a patient’s medical history, mental health conditions, type of substance use and other personal details that can identify if this approach is the right treatment plan.

Patients can benefit from residential treatment in various ways, like:

  • Participating in frequent therapy or program sessions
  • Gaining distance from a previous life, including triggering locations and negative people
  • Accessing various types of programs, like recreational activities and therapies other than talk therapy
  • Having a structured routine that helps them focus on progressing through recovery and getting healthier
  • Gaining around-the-clock support from staff and other patients in the residential treatment program

Other benefits patients can experience when they participate in Gateway’s residential treatment program include:

  • Evidence-based clinical services
  • Healthy food
  • Medical detoxification
  • Research-based treatment
  • Safety precautions
  • Safe and comfortable surroundings

3. Partial Hospitalization

Patients who are searching for a substance use disorder treatment program that fits their lifestyle and the severity of their addiction should consider the partial hospitalization program (PHP) at Gateway Foundation. Partial hospitalization provides an in-between treatment opportunity for residential and outpatient treatment.

People who participate in partial hospitalization programs typically need high amounts of supervision but can go home after appointments and have a supportive environment to lean on. The schedule of Gateway’s partial hospitalization process is comparable to the duration of a school or work week. The treatment appointments take up most of the day, but patients can sleep in their own bed after the day is over. 

The medical staff at Gateway Foundation will consider multiple factors about the patient to see if they will benefit from partial hospitalization. Staff recommends this level of care by:

  • Considering the patient’s recovery process and if they’re at high risk for relapse or strong withdrawal symptoms
  • Determining if the patient has a safe and healthy environment to return to at the end of the day
  • Confirming the patient has a healthy support system to rely on throughout treatment who will hold them accountable and motivate them

The partial hospitalization program at Gateway is often used as a solid integrating period for individuals who are ready to take the first steps back into the real world after inpatient treatment. Patients will begin living new, healthy lifestyles after treatment. Slowly getting used to new behaviors can be possible because of partial hospitalization and other levels of care.

Partial Hospitalization

Some benefits of the partial hospitalization program at Gateway Foundation include:

  • Access to individual and group therapy
  • Daily interactions with medical and mental health professionals
  • Extensive care services and the freedom to go home every day
  • Personalized treatment plans
  • A smoother transition back into the real world

4. Intensive Outpatient

Patients who need to find a substance disorder treatment program that matches their schedule while still providing adequate access to therapies and resources should try intensive outpatient treatment at Gateway Foundation. The intensive outpatient treatment program allows individuals to prioritize treatment along with their family, work or school.

Intensive outpatient treatment is similar to partial hospitalization, but it has more flexibility for patients. Rather than a school- or work-like schedule, people will have shorter appointment times and have the freedom to schedule sessions during any part of the day or weekend. People can choose to receive care in the mornings, afternoons or evenings depending on their routines and obligations.

Intensive outpatient programs are beneficial for numerous reasons. People may not qualify for or need residential treatments depending on their situation, so this level of care may mesh perfectly with their recovery process to provide them with the adequate support they need.

Intensive Outpatient

Another reason why patients may participate in intensive outpatient programs is they are using this as a transition from residential treatment or partial hospitalization. This level of care provides people with plenty of resources and appointments to keep them progressing in their recovery while also allowing them to participate more in their personal life.

This type of treatment is also great for those who need intense care throughout their recovery but prefer a more affordable treatment option compared to residential programs. Treatment programs that don’t include overnight stays are traditionally less expensive than ones that do.

Gateway Foundation can also provide intensive outpatient care services to patients online via our virtual outpatient program. The virtual treatment option allows patients to continue receiving care on their time from the comfort of their homes. People can always access helpful resources or speak with a professional wherever they go.

5. Outpatient Treatment Centers and Outpatient Alcoholism Treatment Centers

Individuals who are ready to take on substance use disorder treatment and have the ability to continue their daily routine can utilize the outpatient treatment and alcoholism outpatient treatment programs from Gateway Foundation. Both give people access to helpful services and resources to overcome their substance dependency.

The best perk of participating in outpatient treatment or outpatient alcoholism treatment is having the flexibility to maneuver your schedule. Patients can make appointments around any obligation or event they need to attend, making it great for those with children, spouses, jobs and other things that require their attention.

Outpatient Treatment Centers and Outpatient Alcoholism Treatment Centers

Outpatient treatments for alcohol and drug use are also great for students in college who want to continue pursuing their degree through treatment. Outpatient appointments are an excellent option that can fit around classes and other activities during the day.

Another reason why individuals choose outpatient treatment and benefit from it the most is that it’s more affordable. Appointments for outpatient therapy programs occur less often than sessions for any of the other levels of care. Patients might meet with their physician or therapist a few times a week for a couple of hours to continue working through their substance use disorder and other co-occurring conditions. With less time, people can expect to experience a more affordable option for treatment.

Outpatient therapy is also great for patients who are graduating from a residential or partial hospitalization program and still want to continue with treatment. It’s the perfect level of care to help patients to start fully integrating themselves within their communities and begin living their new sober lifestyle. 

6. Family Support and Programming

Substance use disorder can impact more people than the patient. This condition may affect their family, friends and others they care about. At Gateway Foundation, we provide quality family support and programming to include loved ones in the recovery process.

The family therapy program can give support to the patient’s family and friends during recovery. It helps promote healing for loved ones who have struggled during the patient’s addiction, provides essential information and resources to help loved ones understand substance use disorder recovery and gives methods on how people can support their loved one who’s going through treatment.

Family includes more than just blood relatives — it consists of the people the patient has strong emotional connections to and who receive the strongest impacts from their substance use disorder. Family therapy helps strengthen a patient’s support system, mend broken relationships and provide more information to loved ones about how people develop substance use disorder and how they can help their loved one continue living a sober lifestyle.

Loved ones can play a major role in a successful recovery. They provide a healthy support system outside of treatment facility medical staff and can provide motivation to patients during recovery. Family can also be excellent at holding their loved ones accountable for attending appointments and staying away from substances.

Families can positively affect the recovery process through family therapy. The benefits of participating in family therapy include the following:

  • Creates higher retention rates for recovery programs
  • Reduces behavioral issues
  • Keeps loved ones motivated during treatment
  • Improves family communication and dynamics
  • Eases feelings of stress, anger or sadness during treatment
  • Provides a safe space for discussing substance use disorder or mental health conditions
  • Helps loved ones learn about substance use disorder and effective treatment options

Contact Gateway Foundation for Treatment in Illinois

Contact Gateway Foundation for Treatment in Illinois

If you or a loved one is looking for substance use disorder care in Illinois, Gateway Foundation is an excellent option. Our various levels of care can create an excellent treatment outline for patients wanting to conquer their substance use disorder and any co-occurring conditions. Contact Gateway today to learn more about what addictions we treat and our broad levels of service.