We know it’s hard to take the first step towards a healthy and sober life. Taking the initiative to seek drug and alcohol addiction treatment may seem daunting at first. But with the right support system and guidance, you’ll soon find yourself realizing that your worst-case scenario is not really as hard as it seems.

While the addiction treatment process might seem different in each treatment center, the basic steps are usually the same.

The moment you decide to seek professional help, you’ve already taken the first step to freedom from a substance use disorder. You’ve made a very brave choice to take that first step. Because of the type of addiction itself, co-occurring disorders, personal experience, and circumstances, there is no “one size fits all” process to treat addiction. In fact, there are no two people who will have an identical journey to recovery.

Statistics have shown that there are approximately 20.7 million American adults who need treatment for substance addiction. Sadly, only four million people actually received the treatment they needed. With these numbers, note that you are one of the few people who are doing their best to seek treatment and get better.

There are no shortcuts in treatment. While rehab may be a long process, each step is actually vital for developing healthy habits that will last a lifetime. The exact treatment process will vary between facilities. However, addiction treatment is ultimately designed to help an individual address addiction. And eventually to begin their personal path to a healthy and sober life.

So, where exactly should you start?

Here at Cardinal Recovery, we’ve come up with a list of actionable steps that could help you on your road to recovery. The drug & alcohol addiction treatment process may not be easy at first. But know that recovery is indeed possible as long as you’re willing to take the first step.

Your path to recovery is waiting
and we’re here to help.

Our admissions specialist are available 24/7 to listen to your story
and get you started with next steps.

Why call us?

The Step-by-Step Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment Process

It’s essential to understand how the drug and alcohol addiction1 treatment process works. You need to understand it for several reasons. From managing your own expectations to entering treatment with the right attitude. Knowing how the process works will give you the power to work throughout each step.

Finding a Treatment Center

The first step in the addiction treatment process is finding the right treatment center that will work best for you. The internet is flooded with different centers, but a person needs to find the best one for their needs. When dealing with a specific drug or alcohol addiction, some facilities may have more expertise than others.

Several independent organizations accredit or certify recovery treatment centers. Before you start looking for treatment centers, take note that your future center should be accredited and reviewed.

These accrediting bodies often review each program based on:

  • Program Quality
  • Safety
  • Effectiveness

Here is a list of qualified independent organizations that review treatment centers:

  • Joint Commission International
  • Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities
  • Council on Accreditation

It may not seem much, but reading through websites of treatment facilities is already a huge step towards recovery. There is nothing wrong with taking things slow. Essentially, baby steps are just as important as bigger steps.

Not sure if your insurance covers drug and alcohol addiction treatment? Let us verify your insurance to ease your worries.


We know how admission to a rehab treatment center might seem overwhelming. And trust us, many treatment facilities understand how hard this step can be. So, the centers try to make the admissions process comfortable and straightforward. It only takes a simple phone call or Facebook message to begin the admissions process.

It’s helpful when a person gathers their health information before contacting a rehab. The admissions rep will ask you several questions, such as:

  • Insurance Policy Number
  • Medical Conditions
  • List of Doctors a Person Is Seeing
  • Prior Treatment History

If you don’t have this information, you should still call anyway. The call for help is an essential part of contacting an admissions representative. Just like when you started looking for treatment facilities, you’ve just taken another step towards your path to recovery.

Don’t worry. Everyone who works in a treatment center is trained to treat this type of information with the utmost confidentiality. Your personal information is in good hands. Doing this will also help them in finding the best possible program that would suit your needs.


After the phone admission/assessment, you’ll then have to enter the treatment center of your choice. Doing so means you’ll have to proceed with the admission process. Admission is vital in establishing a strong foundation for a patient at the treatment center.

It’s quite normal for your luggage to be searched during admission. This is often conducted to ensure your own safety and the treatment center’s as well. They only need to make sure that there will be no drugs, weapons or other unallowed items brought to the treatment center.

Imagine if you’ve been staying at the treatment center for a couple of months now. Then, there’s someone new who wanted to be admitted as well. To ensure your safety and everyone who’s staying and working at the treatment center, it’s vital to conduct these types of searches.

It’s okay to feel anxious or a little worried. You are doing something that could potentially change your life. Worrying means you know how important what you’re doing is.


After admission, you’ll then have to go through an assessment.

During the assessment, the medical staff will meet you to determine your specific conditions and needs. This is when the professionals will determine what substances brought you to rehab. Then they will also discuss any possible co-occurring disorders. This is a significant step because a thorough assessment will ensure that you will have the best treatment plan for your personal needs.

Honesty is crucial in this process. The more honest you are with everything about what you went through, the more effective your treatment plan will be. Yes, it’s normal to feel you should hide the things you’ve done in the past. But doing that will be very counterproductive to your recovery.

The medical professionals who work in these centers will never judge you for what you’ve been through. What you have to remember is, you’ve gone through all of these difficult times, and you are taking steps to improve yourself.

Want to get an idea of where you should start? Call us at (855) 928-1987 for a free clinical assessment.


The next step you have to take after the assessment is detox.

Detoxification2 is stopping drug use to eliminate the toxins from your body. Doing this means you can receive medical clearance to begin the drug and alcohol treatment. Medically supervised detox can provide the highest quality of care in a safe environment. This is important in managing the withdrawal symptoms that you will soon experience. And this will also help in continuing your treatment.

There’s no fixed duration on how long this process could take. Usually, it can take days, sometimes months, to go through the withdrawal symptoms during the drug & alcohol addiction treatment process. However, there are factors that might affect the length of your withdrawal, such as:

  • What type of substance you were addicted to;
  • The duration or how long did your addiction last;
  • How severe was the addiction;
  • What were the methods of use;
  • The amount of a substance taken at once;
  • Your family history;
  • Your genetic makeup;
  • Your medical condition/s; and
  • Any underlying mental health conditions.

Inpatient Care

There are a variety of different therapies and methods used during inpatient care. In an inpatient treatment center, there is an opportunity to take part in programs that will help you learn about yourself. You’ll also be taught how to understand and address your addiction. The primary goal of inpatient care is to ensure that you will have access to the tools you need to recover. And the skills you will also need to remain healthy and sober after leaving the drug and alcohol treatment center.

The good thing about inpatient care is you’ll also be surrounded by people who are going through the same process as you. There is strength in numbers. Seeing people that have recovered from addiction could add to your motivation to keep going. If you’re also finding it a little difficult to move forward, you’ll easily be able to talk to the medical staff in the facilities.

Here are some benefits you could experience if you decide to choose inpatient care as part of your treatment:

  • You’ll be in a safe and comfortable environment conducive to your recovery
  • You’ll be able to follow a well-organized schedule that will make your treatment as effective as possible
  • You’ll also be free from any of the relapse triggers you could find outside of the treatment center
  • You’ll have regular and quick access to medical professionals who will ensure your health and safety along the way
  • You’ll be provided with 24/7 support and on-site clinical staff
  • You’ll be surrounded by people who could provide support and encouragement as they’re going through the same journey as you
  • You’ll also have access to facilities that could help with your self-improvement and overall health and wellness while you’re recovering

Outpatient Programs

Other than the inpatient programs, many facilities also offer outpatient or alumni programs. These programs could provide you with support in a familiar setting, especially with the friends you have made during the treatment process.

This is often helpful as many alumni groups have meetings where people can share and plan sober outings and events. You’ll be able to reminisce about the journey and share stories with people who have similar experiences.

Additionally, some facilities will continue to offer individual therapy. In this case, you can still continue meeting with the therapist you have worked with during your treatment.

Related Reading: Read how community-based recovery programs work worders for recovery3

Life After Addiction Treatment

The journey you’ve decided to take is not easy, but the good thing is, there is life after addiction. Your road doesn’t stop once you’ve completed the drug & alcohol addiction treatment process.

You’ll soon realize that the healthier you become, the more you want to improve yourself. After all, you’ve already conquered one of the most difficult obstacles a person could go through.

Related Reading: Here’s how you can maintain a well-balanced diet as part of your aftercare recovery

Services and support that are available post treatment are part of adjusting to life after rehab. Some people may decide to live in a sober living environment or halfway, while others may return home. No matter what situation you may decide on, aftercare is an integral part of your treatment process.

Evidence has shown that each person will have their own experience on the path to recovery, but the addiction treatment process that guides them towards that path is mostly the same for everyone.

Here’s How Cardinal Recovery Can Help

Are you or a loved one struggling with an addiction? You are not alone.

We are here for you, and we are here to help. Talk to us. Call Now – (855) 928-1987

Cardinal Recovery offers partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and outpatient treatment services.


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