Understanding the Levels of Care in Addiction Treatment

by Joseph

After years of struggling, it’s finally time to get the help for addiction that you know you need. Whether it’s for yourself or a loved one, deciding to get treatment is the first step in the recovery process. 

However, with so many levels of care offered by treatment centers, how can you know which is right for you? Substance abuse treatment programs are categorized into several groups by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, or ASAM. 

To learn more, keep reading to find our guide to help you understand the levels of care in addiction treatment, as outlined by the ASAM. 

Early Intervention 

This is the earliest level of support, focusing on providing education and resources. It’s for someone who might be at risk for a substance abuse problem, but is not yet in need of formal treatment. 

Early intervention can include informal counseling, providing the person with information, or attending therapy. 


Outpatient services are a type of addiction treatment where the patient lives at home. However, they attend treatment throughout the week for up to nine hours, or six hours for teens. 

This is a good treatment option for someone who has an addiction less severe. They don’t require the intensive services of residential care, which requires you to live away from home. 

See here to learn more about an example of outpatient care. 

Intensive Outpatient 

Intensive outpatient care is the next step up in the treatment process. It involves partial hospitalization services, but the patient is still able to live at home. 

In this level of care, you may spend around 20 hours per week in treatment. This can be an effective way to treat complex drug abuse addictions, with patients attending treatment in a hospital or day treatment center. 


This treatment is also known as inpatient care and involves living on-site in a residential facility. Patients have 24-hour care and supervision. 

Residential care usually goes for around 30-90 days. It involves medical attention, therapy, and supervised activities. 

Medically Managed Intensive Inpatient 

Sometimes, those with severe addictions need to go through a medical detox and withdrawal before they’re able to start treatment. This stabilizes them so that they can begin therapy. 

This requires 24-hour medical care. After someone has completed this stage, they will usually go into residential care to continue the recovery process safely. 

Use These Levels of Care to Understand Which Is Right for You 

The levels of care mentioned above can be confusing, but each level has an important part to play in the recovery process. 

If you or a loved one are in need of care, you and your treatment team can work out which level you best fit into. This will provide the right amount of support, medical care, and therapy. 

Once this has been decided, you can enroll in the program and start your journey to sobriety. 

While it can sometimes be tough, there’s no better feeling in the world than beating your addiction and moving on with your life. 

If you found this article helpful, please keep reading to learn more. 

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