City of Los Angeles Announces Get Help LA Pilot

City of Los Angeles Announces Get Help LA Pilot

Pilot program gives first-responders and outreach workers live, location based information on available services to assist individuals experiencing homelessness.

Councilmembers announced a pilot program to deploy the GET HELP LA app on the mobile phones of first responders and outreach workers who interface with unsheltered populations in Los Angeles. The GET HELP LA app provides up-to-date, location-based information on service types near a user’s present location. This will allow users to search and filter services by type to find an appropriate match that meets the needs of the individual they are trying to help.

“First responders often have a very narrow window when individuals facing challenges such as mental instability or addiction are willing to accept care,” said the Chair of the Los Angeles Public Safety Committee. “GET HELP LA allows them to quickly navigate and find an appropriate service location which maximizes the chances an individual gets the treatment they need.”

“With the first stage of the GET HELP App, first responders can quickly locate resources near them to address the needs of any homeless person they encounter,” said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson who serves as Chair of the Los Angeles Homelessness and Poverty Committee. “Soon this app will be available to pastors, teachers, outreach workers, non-profits, and everyday residents!”

“GET HELP is proud to work with the City of Los Angeles as our first municipal partner, to help more people in need,” said Dr. Anthony Greco, CEO & Founder of Get Help. “The inclusion of technology in the social service system will be a major step forward in helping to find housing, recovery services, and other programs for those in need. We look forward to a successful pilot program with our Los Angeles partner agencies and helping thousands of people in need.”

The app was developed through a partnership between GET HELP and the City of Los Angeles’ Information Technology Agency. In addition to deploying the app on city mobile phones, GET HELP LA will provide training on use of the app and data tracking so that the City can measure the use and efficacy of this tool.

In the initial phase, the six month pilot will test usage by LAHSA outreach workers, LAPD HOPE officers and officers assigned to Skid Row, and the LAFD SOBER unit. If successful the app could be deployed to city employees across Los Angeles who may seek to connect an individual in need with services, including librarians, parks employees, and others.

John Oliver Nails It!

John Oliver Nails It!

I woke up like this.

It’s been a long time since we’ve posted a blog on www.get Our marketing people and product people have been optimizing and refining and trying to make sure all the rights words are tagged with all the right things; so that we can compete in a game that is being played on a massive stage, and all the while people are dying, people need help, and John Oliver explained that game perfectly last night–a game we working day and night to change. So, when I say I woke up like this, I mean it.  I woke up well aware of the problems he very clearly (and humorously of course) articulated last night. Problems we’ve been working on at Get Help since 2015, and our team has been working on collectively for over 100+ years.

I woke up yesterday morning to emails and text messages from friends, linking me, referring to John Oliver on Last Week Tonight. If you haven’t seen it yet take a look here: YouTube. I’m glad my friends and family have been paying attention to what we are doing.

My only wish about the segment was that he didn’t have to refer to, and instead had to reference a link to finding ASAM addiction doctors. Nothing against ASAM addiction doctors, but it continues to perpetuate the idea that the solution to addiction is only medical in nature, that doctors need to prescribe drugs to get clean. While the debate is heated about MAT (and GET HELP does not have an opinion and lists all sites), even referrals from addiction doctors is not as unbiased as we would like to see.

It’s as if John Oliver took a look at our investor deck and our work over the last couple years. Even the statistics he quotes (e.g., the rehab industry is a $36B industry, there are 14,500+ treatment centers) are right out of our slide deck. And if they were—great—I was impressed and inspired by the entire segment, and at the same time, it made me incredibly anxious that we just are not doing enough to get the word out. People are not finding Get Help yet, and enough facilities have not claimed their listing to make sure all the data is the best. It’s time.

If we want to fix the addiction rehab industry we all need to work together and stop being apathetic. I can’t keep waiting for things to be perfect.  It’s going to require work. It’s going to require us being imperfect in some of our solutions. It’s going to require treatment centers getting out of their comfort zone and checking out new tools and technologies. It’s going to require more media spreading the word about tools that are actually trying to help people. The reality is that GET HELP cannot afford (yet) to compete against the Goliath’s (The Fix / Rehab Review / Google) in the Google search race, not to mention the new “standards” that are being required to advertise on Google thanks to NAATP (more on that later). All we are saying is that it’s virtually impossible for reasonably priced and appropriate treatment programs to get the message out, to be found. That’s what we are doing- making it possible for people to get found based on what is best for the prospective client. Now our big task is to get the message out about GET HELP so people can go directly to our site, bypassing the search engines, advertising, call centers, and brokers.

Like I said, it’s not perfect yet but we are getting there. We get closer every time a facility claims a listing and a person (professional, family member, or otherwise) searches GET HELP.

And, what do we get for people going to GET HELP? Absolutely nothing. Not a very solid business model, I know. I’ve been accused of that and told repeatedly to let treatment centers or drug companies advertise on GET HELP. I say no, sometimes at what seems like our peril, but after a segment like John Oliver’s my faith and hope is strengthened. I know that what we stand for is worth standing up for. That if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything. I know that the principles that guide GET HELP are principles that cannot and will not be compromised because we are doing more than just providing a platform for people to search for treatment—we are creating a paradigm shift in the industry. Anyone can search, anytime, anywhere, and there is no brokering or selling leads.

If you’re interested in hearing more about this please let me know. We are gathering information from professionals and will have more soon. This is the next step. In order for us to reach that milestone we need to get the word out, increase our searches, and help more people. This makes it possible to convince treatment centers to subscribe. Subscriptions give us the financial ability to make GET HELP is available to anyone, anywhere. It also gives us the platform from which to introduce a rating system so we can hold facilities accountable and give consumers the information they have long been waiting for.

Listen, we are taking on a $36B Industry and we can’t do it alone. Nonprofits and government have not been able to do it yet. They’ve been trying for a long time and have not been successful. Treatment programs cannot regulate themselves; it requires someone who knows about the industry and is not financially incentivized by the treatment centers. Namely, doctors like ourselves.

What can you do to help? If you are a treatment center claim your listing or listings and subscribe. If you’re a consumer, friend, or ally interested in furthering our cause then spread the word. Follow us on Twitter @GetHelpDotInc and join us on FaceBook, share about us with your friends and colleagues. Go to the iTunes or Android Store and download our app or save GET HELP on your favorites or bookmark. Do something. Do it now.

The Challenge of Detox

The Challenge of Detox

Is A Detoxification Program Necessary?

If you or someone you love has a substance abuse problem, getting help can be overwhelming. There is a lot of information out there and sifting through it all can leave you more confused than when you started. We want to make it easy for you to find the right rehabilitation services. Recovery often starts with a medically supervised detoxification program.  

Using is dangerous, but so is stopping – withdrawal must be undertaken with caution and, often, with medical supervision. It is best for anyone who has been using addictive substances to be evaluated by an addiction specialist to determine if a medical detox is necessary, and what kind of detox program would be optimal.  
In this article, we will explain drug and alcohol withdrawal, discuss the detoxification process, explain when it is necessary, and make suggestions about how to choose the right detox program.

Drug and Alcohol Dependency Results in Withdrawal 

The extended abuse of drugs results in physical dependency. Dependency means that the body no longer functions properly without the drug, and coming off can be painful and dangerous. This detoxification process is also known as “withdrawal.” Medical assistance may be necessary to make the process physically tolerable and safe. 
Depending on the substance being abused, withdrawal symptoms might include:

  • Loss of appetite 
  • Abdominal cramps 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression
  • Mood swings 
  • Agitation or hostility
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Insomnia 
  • Nightmares 
  • Seizures 
  • Coma or death (in extreme cases)

Severity of these withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person. And, while some substances produce more serious symptoms than others, it is important to recognize that any substance used habitually can produce some symptoms upon withdrawal – even marijuana.  

Going through detox is not only a painful experience, it can also be life-threatening. Withdrawal from certain drugs (alcohol among them) can cause seizures, coma, or death. It is vital for someone in the throes of addiction to be evaluated by an addiction specialist to determine how best to detoxify. 

What Is Medical Detox? 

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that “medical detoxification safely manages the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal.” This is a basic explanation of a detox program. Let’s go a little deeper. 

A medical detox is supervised by specialists in addiction medicine in a hospital setting, detox center, or rehabilitation facility.  The individual who is experiencing withdrawal is stabilized and medical conditions preceding or resulting from detox are addressed. Round-the-clock evaluation and monitoring ensures that the detoxification process is safe, effective and therapeutic. Also, a medical detox is designed to keep the patient as comfortable as possible. There used to be a belief that a hard or traumatic withdrawal was essential to recovery; mostly medical professionals no longer think this way. An addict coming into recovery has suffered enough.   

During detox, medications are used to provide comfort and prevent adverse reactions to the withdrawal process. These might include antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, anti-nausea medications, sedatives, or opioid-replacement drugs. These medications lessen withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings.

Detoxification Is Necessary for Recovery  

No one wants to have to go through withdrawal. Many people who are addicted continue to use simply because they fear the pain of stopping. Unfortunately, there is no way to experience the gifts of recovery without first arresting addiction through abstinence – and abstinence begins with detox.

Everyone who has been abusing an addictive drugs must go through a detoxification process one way or another. While not everyone detoxing from drugs or alcohol will require medical supervision, certain circumstances require admission to a detox program. Those able to detox safely at home still benefit from the advice and support of professionals through the process. Using over-the-counter detox cleanses or kits can be dangerous, especially if someone has underlying health conditions or has been using chemicals like alcohol, opiates or sedatives that can have dangerous effects upon withdrawal.

What Kind of Detox is Best For Me?

Most detox programs treat a patient in one to seven days. However, many who are addicted to alcohol, heroin, or prescription opioids choose Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), which can take up to a year. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA), MAT “is the use of FDA- approved medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a whole-patient approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.” MAT usually occurs in an outpatient setting; it’s slower, but especially for people with a high risk or history of relapse it may be more effective. Proponents of inpatient detox and MAT may be strong advocates for their method; listening carefully and making a decision that is right for the addict is ultimately up to you.   A confidential assessment with an addiction specialist can free you from guesswork. Many detox programs provide free assessments over the phone. It is not a good idea to determine on your own whether you or your loved one needs a detox program – whether we want to believe that the addict “isn’t that bad” or that “we can handle this ourselves,” our denial can put us or our loved ones in jeopardy.

When it comes to withdrawal from alcohol, benzodiazepines (like Valium or Ativan), heroin, and prescription opioids like Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, and Fentanyl, medical detox is almost always recommended.

Loved ones may not have an accurate sense of what an addict has been using, and his or her self-assessment may not be accurate.

For example, it is very rare that a patient needs medical detox from cannabis. However, synthetic marijuana is saturated with toxic chemicals that can make withdrawal problematic. Bringing professionals in early can limit some of the danger that comes with this process.We encourage anyone who has been using to undergo an evaluation by a qualified, licensed addiction expert to assess their individual situation.  

Find A Detox You Can Trust

At Get Help, we have simplified the process of choosing a reputable and affordable detox program. We make access to resources as quick and easy as possible because we understand that lives are on the line.

We  hold treatment centers accountable to a verifiable code of professional conduct. We maintain our independence by refusing all investments from and affiliations with treatment centers and we refuse advertising dollars. Our only goal is to provide a free search tool so anyone, anywhere can find addiction treatment – fast. We are motivated by a sincere desire to get you or your loved one started on the road to recovery.  

Use our app – or go to our website – to find an addiction specialist who can assess your situation. They can help you develop an addiction treatment plan that will get you pointed in right the direction. 

GET HELP’s free search tool is the easiest way for anyone, anywhere to find addiction treatment fast. You can also download our app, go to, or call us at (323) GET-HELP. There is absolutely no fee. Our only goal at GET HEP is to connect  you with quality substance abuse treatment services so you, your loved one, or your client can find freedom from active addiction.   

Getting in the Door: First Steps in Addiction Treatment

Getting in the Door: First Steps in Addiction Treatment

Treatment can be part of recovery

Addiction is a powerful and progressive brain disease that affects individual addicts and their families. Addiction is a disease that may be arrested through abstinence. But achieving and maintaining abstinence can be very difficult. Although there are many good options available for outpatient treatment,

the reality is that for many people, getting out of the environment in which their addiction progressed is essential to getting free.

There are many ways to treat addiction, and although some of them may look similar from outside, the differences between them are important. A person may go away to treatment for 30 or 90 days or even longer – but the experience in that time may be very different depending on the kind of facility in which they’re being treated. The needs of different clients depends on their medical history and mental health as well as the kinds and quantities of drugs they’ve been using.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, “despite the fact that substance use disorders are widespread, only a small percentage of people receive treatment. Results from the 2015 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reveal that only about 2.2 million people with a substance use disorder, or about 1 in 10 affected individuals, received any type of treatment in the year before the survey was administered.” This is a catastrophe. Addiction is no way to live – it’s a way to die. Anyone who has a substance abuse problem is worthy of recovery  – and the chance to recover is absolutely worth fighting for. 

Fear is an Obstacle To Getting Treatment For A Substance Abuse Problem 

There are too many reasons why people don’t get the addiction treatment they need. One reason is fear. Those who have a substance abuse problem are well aware that withdrawal can be painful. The thought of checking into a rehab can be scary – the addict doesn’t know what to expect, and may be very concerned about leaving their lives and routines for an extended time. In a safe, secure environment it’s much easier to control for the physical and emotional challenges that make withdrawal frightening and to plan for a sustainable life afterwards.  Changing habits, assessing the elements of one’s life to determine what works, what needs healing, and what simply must change is much easier when we’re out of context for a little while. And we can determine strategies to make changes ahead of time. 

Addiction is exhausting.
If you have an addiction to drugs or alcohol and you’re reading this article, let’s be honest – you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. Some part of you is ready to find a new way to live. You’re just not sure if you’re really ready to go to rehab. Maybe by the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll be more willing to make a decision about getting help.

Detox Services Are Often An Integrated Part of Rehab

The process of withdrawal is the shortest – but often the most difficult and frightening – part of recovery. Certain substances – like alcohol, heroin, or prescription opioids or sedatives like Xanax and Valium– can bring withdrawal symptoms that can be dangerous and even deadly. For this reason, residential treatment facilities and inpatient rehabs both offer medical detox services. 

A professional medical detox is administered by an medical professional who is an addiction expert. It includes round-the-clock monitoring and evaluation and specific medications tailored to the individual’s circumstances. The purpose of a supervised medical detoxification is to ensure safety and stabilization and greatly reduce cravings and pain. In a residential treatment facility or an inpatient rehab, the addiction specialists on staff will supervise your withdrawal and make the process as painless as possible.    

What You Can Expect If You Decide To Go To Residential Treatment 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that “because drug abuse and addiction have so many dimensions and disrupt so many aspects of an individual’s life, treatment is not simple. Effective treatment programs typically incorporate many components, each directed to a particular aspect of the illness and its consequences.” Residential treatment allows you to separate yourself from environmental triggers, temptations to use drugs or alcohol, and daily stress that can prevent you from focusing entirely on your recovery.

In residential rehab, you will stay at a rehabilitation facility that is designed to stabilize you while you withdraw from drugs or alcohol, keep you safe and secure during your first thirty to ninety days of recovery, and teach you the skills you need to enjoy a life in recovery. You will live with a small community of other people who are also recovering from the disease of addiction. You may have your own room, or share a room with someone else.   

Once you check into residential treatment, you will typically be assigned a case manager who will create a treatment plan for you. During your stay, you will receive individualized therapy, attend peer-group therapy sessions, and receive education about the science of addiction and recovery. 

The addiction services you receive will be evidence-based approaches that have been proven to drive positive results. One of the goals of your treatment will be behavior modification so you can learn to start making positive choices in your life and stop relying on self-destructive behaviors to cope. It is important to note that this is the best standard of care, but not always the case.  
Residential treatment typically happens in a comfortable setting that has been designed to feel like a relaxing and tranquil home environment. Some residential facilities offer luxury amenities like swimming pools, a jacuzzi, massage and spa services, recreational activities, yoga, acupuncture, meditation classes, and gourmet meals. Others take a more bare-bones approach to this time. Many will take patients to meetings or other support services “off campus;” others prefer to keep residents inside the facility for the duration of treatment.  

Inpatient Treatment Provides Short-Term Care For More Complex Issues Related To Substance Abuse 

Unlike residential treatment, which offers longer term care in a homey environment, inpatient rehab usually represents a short stay at a hospital or psychiatric facility. It is a clinical setting where patients receive 24-7 services for a period that usually lasts from two days to two weeks.  This more intensive treatment is recommended for people who are suffering from an acute medical condition or mental health issue related to prolonged substance abuse. 

Inpatient treatment is also ideal for those whose addiction to alcohol, heroin, prescription opioids, or other substances requires a more extensive medical detox than what is typically offered at residential rehabs. When withdrawal would be life-threatening, it is recommended that someone stay at an inpatient facility until they are stabilized and can continue treatment at a residential rehab. 

While many residential treatment facilities offer dual-diagnosis treatment, inpatient treatment specializes in this area. A dual diagnosis, also referred to as a co-occurring disorder, is defined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as “the coexistence of both a mental health and a substance use disorder.” Inpatient treatment facilities have psychiatrists on staff who are highly skilled in acute treatment of those with co-occurring disorders. They offer medication management and psychiatric services. 

Most people who want to get treatment for a substance abuse problem do not require the extensive services offered at an inpatient facility. However, it is best to allow a professional to determine what services are necessary, especially for an addict in crisis.

Recovery Begins Now. Get Help to Get Started.  

Whether you or your loved one needs detox, residential treatment or more intensive inpatient services – we think it should be easy to Get Help and find your way in the right door, fast. 

If you think you might be ready to talk to someone about your treatment options, why not call a treatment center near you for a consultation? Many addiction providers will perform a free, confidential assessment over the phone to determine what course of action is best for you. You don’t have to make a commitment – you can just talk to someone who will provide greater insight into your situation.  

Get Help’s free search tool is the easiest way for anyone, anywhere to find addiction treatment fast. You can also download our app, go to, or call us at (323) GET-HELP. There is absolutely no fee. Our only goal at GET HELP is to connect  you with quality substance abuse treatment services so you, your loved one, or your client can find freedom from active addiction.

Treating Addiction is a Medical Emergency

Treating Addiction is a Medical Emergency

Drug addiction is a life-threatening condition that should be treated as a medical emergency. Finding the right program when the addict is willing to go can be challenging. Our goal is to empower you to make an informed decision about how to proceed with addiction treatment.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) recognizes five broad levels of care on a continuum of recovery-oriented addiction services.  In what follows, we explain these levels of care in simple terms so you or your loved one can find the most appropriate treatment.

An Overview Of Drug Rehab Treatment Levels

Specialized care is necessary for anyone struggling with addiction. It isn’t just a bad habit; according to the ASAM, “addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.”

Any substance use disorder needs to be evaluated and treated by addiction specialists who have been trained to treat the disease of addiction. That still leaves so many people wondering where to start. Treatment begins by entering into one of five levels of care:  

  • Level .5 – Early Intervention Services
  • Level I – Outpatient Services
  • Level II – Intensive Outpatient Services
  • Level III – Residential Services
  • Level IV – Intensive Inpatient Services
Early Intervention Addresses A Potential Substance Abuse Problem Before It Progresses

Most people do not know that early intervention services exist. Early intervention services address substance misuse such as binge drinking or drug or alcohol experimentation and may help to prevent more severe substance use disorders from developing. The Surgeon General reports that “the goals of early intervention are to reduce the harms associated with substance misuse, to reduce risk behaviors before they lead to injury, to improve health and social function, and to prevent progression…”

Most people do not know that early intervention services exist

Also according to the Surgeon General, early intervention services “consist of screening an individual to determine the extent of drug or alcohol use and providing information about substance use risks… and strategies to quit or cut down on use and use-related risk behaviors.” This can happen in one or two sessions, perhaps in tandem with some other kinds of therapy or support.

Outpatient Services – Getting Treatment Without Packing Your Bags

Outpatient services may be recommended for those who are able to address their addiction without significantly disrupting their lives. This allows people who need recovery to maintain their professional, family, and personal obligations.

Outpatient treatment involves attending group and individual counseling sessions and educational classes several days each week – usually in the evenings. It typically requires a time commitment of nine hours or less every week for 30, 60 or 90 days. Outpatient addiction treatment may include behavioral modification therapy, relapse prevention strategies, education about the disease of addiction, and exposure to other resources in the community. This treatment may be supplemented with individual or group therapy.

Basic outpatient services represent the lowest level of care for someone with a substance abuse problem. While some people can begin their recovery process with such minimal outpatient services, many need more intensive treatment when they begin their recovery. Outpatient services may serve best as “aftercare” following completion of intensive outpatient or inpatient treatment.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment – A Step Up

An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) requires a greater time commitment than “basic” outpatient treatment, although again most people can manage it without having to sacrifice their other responsibilities. IOP typically involves 12-15 hours a week of group sessions, individual counseling, and educational classes.

Intensive Outpatient Programs are increasingly popular. People appreciate the freedom and flexibility intensive outpatient has to offer because it allows them to continue to work or go to school while receiving enough support to encourage ongoing recovery.

IOP provides structure for time that was previously “high risk” because IOP usually keeps a client in session or in meetings several evenings a week and sometimes on weekends.

It is important to note that detoxification services are not generally offered at this level of addiction treatment. Many who are addicted to alcohol, heroin, prescription opioids and other drugs require a supervised medical detox to safely withdraw from their drug of choice. If you or your loved one needs to undergo a medical detox, you will likely require short-term services of a hospital or other highly structured detox program before beginning outpatient treatment.

Residential Services Offer Full-Time Care In Comfortable Surroundings

When most people think of getting treatment for a substance abuse problem, they typically envision a stay at a residential rehab. Residential services offer round-the-clock inpatient treatment and a safe, structured living environment for the duration of treatment.

Managing cravings, confronting triggers, and overcoming the compulsion to use drugs or alcohol can be overwhelming. Many people need the safe and secure environment offered by residential treatment to get stabilized – at least for the first month. Some stay as long as three months.  

Residential treatment usually happens in comfortable surroundings that feel very much like a home environment. While there is a staff available 24-7 to offer clinical support, a residential rehab does not have the look and feel of a hospital. Unlike outpatient treatment, residential services may offer a medical detox to promote the safe and comfortable withdrawal from addictive substances.

This addiction treatment level not only allows direct access to expert staff, it also provides a supportive peer community of recovering people. This creates an opportunity to forge rich and rewarding relationships centered on recovery.

Intensive Inpatient Services Are For Those Who Require Greater Medical Supervision

Of the five levels of rehabilitation treatment, intensive inpatient services are the most comprehensive and inclusive. They usually take place within a hospital setting or psychiatric unit. Intensive inpatient offers 24-7 medically directed treatment and almost always includes daily meetings with a physician. This level of care is highly recommended for those whose addiction or physical condition requires rigorous monitoring and evaluation.  

Intensive inpatient is also especially helpful for treating someone who is suffering from a dual diagnosis. According to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), dual diagnosis (also referred to as a co-occurring disorder) is a term used when someone experiences a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously. Those who have a co-occurring disorder require specialized services that treat both addiction and mental health disorders. Medication management services and cognitive or dialectical behavioral therapies as well as addiction treatment may be available here.  

Like ordinary residential treatment, patients who undergo intensive inpatient treatment live at the facility for a period of thirty to ninety days. During intensive inpatient, those receiving treatment participate in peer groups, individual counseling, and classes that offer coping and recovery skills. Intensive inpatient builds a strong foundation for those who have more complex issues that require complicated or focused treatment.

How To Determine What Level Of Care Is Necessary

Often the best level of care for a client is determined at intake, or in a conversation with a professional before one reaches out to a particular treatment center. Finding a clinician, interventionist or rehab that’s right for you – and your insurance – can be a real challenge.

Many rehabilitation facilities will perform a free, confidential evaluation over the phone. This will help you or your loved one determine which level of care is needed. You can start a search on your own with Get Help to find a treatment center near you so you can complete an assessment.

Get Help’s free search tool is the easiest way for anyone, anywhere to find addiction treatment fast. You can also download our app, go to, or call us at (323) GET-HELP. There is absolutely no fee. Our only goal at Get Help is to connect  you with quality substance abuse treatment services so you, your loved one, or your client can find freedom from active addiction.   

Addiction Treatment Doesn’t Always Require a Suitcase

Addiction Treatment Doesn’t Always Require a Suitcase

When it comes to treating an addiction problem, many people automatically assume that treatment means staying for weeks at a rehab. Fear or resistance to that kind of commitment keeps some people from trying to get help at all. There are addiction treatment options that involve little or no time away – and outpatient programs, intensive or not, allow people to begin  or continue their recovery journey without making a physical journey.

In this article, we will tell you why substance use or abuse treatment is important, explain the concept of IOP and outpatient treatment, outline the benefits and drawbacks of an outpatient program, and explain how you can find the treatment that’s best for you.

Why You Need Substance Abuse Treatment If You Are Addicted

Many people stay in active addiction because they are convinced that under the right circumstances, they will be able to overcome their addiction with willpower. We wish it were that easy.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines addiction as “as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain; they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long lasting and can lead to many harmful, often self-destructive, behaviors.”  We all wish addiction could be addressed by prayer, or wishing, or “just getting our act together.” But it takes more than that. The journey to recovery usually begins with some type of treatment. When a client is able to stay home, meet their ordinary responsibilities and get the treatment they need – that seems like the best of all worlds. Of course there are times when a residential program is optimal. But intensive outpatient programs are proving increasingly effective.  

What Is An Intensive Outpatient Program?

According to NIDA, “addiction treatment must help the individual stop using drugs, maintain a drug-free lifestyle, and achieve productive functioning in the family, at work, and in society.”An IOP takes on these goals in the course of everyday living – not removing an addict from their environment.

Rather than taking recovery on as a full-time job, an Intensive Outpatient Program offers quality care in a more limited form – a few hours at a time, several evenings a week. Some people do go through an inpatient detox before beginning IOP; the need for this kind of service is generally determined during intake.

Many people find that intensive outpatient is ideal because it allows them to continue to go to work, maintain family commitments, and keep up with their personal responsibilities. Not all addicts have the same story; some people lose everything before they get help, but for others the ability to maintain these elements of a “normal life” are vitally important.

What Is The Difference Between An Intensive Outpatient Program And Outpatient?

To be clear, there are two types of outpatient treatment – intensive outpatient and “regular” outpatient. The only difference between the two is the amount of time allotted. The less intensive outpatient programs are often offered as “aftercare” when someone comes home from residential treatment or if someone needs additional support after an Intensive Outpatient Program.

Outpatient treatment usually involves 4-10 hours a week in a clinical setting. An Intensive Outpatient Program generally takes place over the course of 12 hours or more per week. Usually outpatient services involve a mixture of group peer-focused therapy and individual counseling.  

Generally, the duration of most outpatient programs is about 12 weeks. Many take place in the evening to accommodate work and school schedules. Depending on the program, you will meet 2-5 times per week for 2-4 hours per group session and undergo 1-3 hours of individual counseling every week.

Most Outpatient Programs Do Not Offer Detoxification Services

Depending on what kind of drugs you have been using, you may be required to complete a professional medical detoxification or undergo medication-assisted treatment (MAT) before you can begin outpatient services. Withdrawal from certain drugs – like alcohol, heroin, or prescription opioids, for example – can be dangerous or even fatal. To safely withdraw from these substances, your recovery journey may begin with a trip to detox before you can start IOP or outpatient.

If you need that service in the beginning, a good outpatient treatment facility will refer you to a safe, reputable, and affordable detox center that can get you stabilized before you begin your outpatient program. It is a good idea to contact the treatment center and set up a consult to determine if detox services are needed. Once you decide on an outpatient facility, you will be assigned a case manager who will create, execute, and monitor a treatment plan specifically designed to meet your individual needs.

What You Can Expect From Outpatient Treatment

Here are some of the things you can expect from IOP or outpatient treatment:

  • You will learn about personal triggers that cause you to want to drink or use drugs and learn strategies to overcome them
  • You will be taught relapse prevention skills
  • You will be introduced to healthy coping mechanisms
  • You will receive evidence-based care that drives results
  • You will undergo behavior modification therapy to encourage the development of positive new behaviors
  • You will be provided continued support to encourage continued recovery and abstinence
  • Your family may receive ongoing support services to empower them to support your recovery
  • Depending on the program, you may be introduced to the 12-Steps and encouraged to attend meetings
  • Abstinence is expected – you may receive random drug tests
The Benefits And Drawbacks To IOP and Outpatient Services

Outpatient treatment has pros and cons. It’s a great answer for some people, but it’s not for everyone.  

Benefits to Outpatient Services:

  • You can return to the comfort of your home every night while attending IOP or outpatient
  • Outpatient services are more affordable than inpatient treatment and is more likely to be covered by insurance
  • Flexible hours allow you to continue working or going to school and maintain personal responsibilities
  • Evidence-based treatment will empower you with proven strategies to embrace a life in recovery
  • You will engage with other recovering people who can help support your recovery
  • You will be equipped with the tools you need to maintain abstinence
Drawbacks to Outpatient Services:
  • You will not stay at the facility; many people need round-the-clock care to stay abstinent in the early days of recovery, or live in unsafe conditions
  • You will still have easy access to drugs and alcohol outside the program
  • You will most likely have to undergo detox at a separate facility before you enter outpatient (if detox is needed)
  • Inpatient gives you the opportunity to focus solely on recovery. With outpatient, you will have to manage life stressors such as work, school, and family duties while attending treatment.
  • Outpatient does not give you 24-7 access to counseling services

Only you can decide if you have enough safety and support in your daily life to be free from drugs and alcohol while attending IOP or outpatient. Many people try outpatient treatment first,  with the understanding that residential treatment is an option if it doesn’t work.

How To Find An Intensive Outpatient Program Or Outpatient Services Near You

If you are considering outpatient treatment for your addiction to drugs or alcohol, there is a program near you that is ready to help you with your problem. Admitting you have an addiction is the first step in treating the disease. The second step is finding help.

At Get Help, we have made finding the help you deserve fast, easy, and free. You can use our free search tool  or download our free app to begin your search for an IOP or outpatient program near you. You can also call us at (323) GET-HELP.