Medically Reviewed

What Goes Into Creating an Individualized Substance Abuse Treatment Plan?

- 5 sections

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

If you’re looking for an addiction recovery center for yourself or a loved one, you have probably seen the term “individualized treatment plan” thrown around a lot. In the most basic of terms, an individualized substance abuse treatment plan is an agreement between you and your primary therapist that outlines the best course of treatment to target and address your unique needs. Since everyone is different and has their own treatment needs and goals, having an individualized treatment plan is vital to creating the pathway for successful treatment outcomes.

All drug and alcohol rehab programs begin the intake process with a thorough screening process. During this initial screening, medical and clinical staff gather important information about the patient, including the types of substances they are addicted to, their mental and physical health, their medical history, and more. This information helps the treatment center identify each patient’s specific needs and decide which therapies and services are most appropriate. More importantly, this information is what clinical staff uses to design individualized substance abuse treatment plans.

3 Primary Elements of Designing an Individualized Substance Abuse Treatment Plan

Using the information obtained during one’s intake assessment, counselors and medical staff will collaborate in order to develop a comprehensive treatment plan. The word “comprehensive” in terms of addiction treatment services refers to the idea that each and every aspect of a person’s life must be taken into consideration during rehabilitation. This means the patients’ past experiences, current situation, and future goals are also incorporated into their recovery program. The three primary areas of focus for addiction treatment are physical, mental, and social needs.

1. Physical and Medical Needs

Physical and medical needs are often the first areas of a patient’s life that are considered. After all, many people are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, are in poor health, or are in need of safe housing and transportation when they arrive at an addiction treatment center. Without having access to basic human needs like food, water, housing, medication, and healthcare, the recovery process is almost impossible. As a result, comprehensive substance abuse treatment plans will address the unique physical and medical needs of each individual. These can be broken down as such:

  • Housing – Making sure the patient has a safe, sober, and supportive environment to live in during and after rehab.
  • Medical care – Making sure the patient has access to all necessary withdrawal, treatment, and mental health medications necessary. This may also involve 24/7 monitoring during the initial phases of detox. Healthcare professionals will also make sure to address any co-occurring physical needs of the patient.
  • Safety – Making sure the patient is safe in their environment and is well-cared for both physically and emotionally.
  • Transportation – Considering how the patient will get to and from the treatment facility as well as to doctor’s appointments and 12-step meetings.

Once a patient’s physical safety and overall health are addressed, drug and alcohol treatment programs will move on to treating the emotional and mental needs of patients.

2. Emotional and Mental Needs

As the physical symptoms of drug and alcohol withdrawal begin wearing off, many recovering individuals begin struggling with depression, anxiety, stress, and irritability. They may also experience intense drug or alcohol cravings that are difficult to overcome. This is often because substance abuse masks emotions as well as preexisting mental health issues. As a result, sobriety causes these challenging emotions and symptoms to come to the surface.

Moreover, experts have found that patients who receive ongoing care after detox to address their emotional and mental health are more likely to stay sober after rehab.[1] This is why addiction specialists provide each patient with a substance abuse treatment plan that consists of behavioral therapy, addiction education, relapse prevention, and peer support.

  • Therapy – Rehab programs will offer various types of therapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dual diagnosis therapy, holistic therapy, motivational interviewing, psychodrama, and more. Therapy addresses underlying emotions and mental health conditions that contribute to drug and alcohol use. It also helps patients gain self-awareness and coping skills.
  • Education – Addiction is a disease that requires ongoing care. Unless patients understand their condition and what’s required to stay sober, they are unlikely to be successful. Educational sessions focus on informing patients with the tools and resources they need to stay sober.
  • Relapse prevention – Counselors will work one-on-one with patients to help them identify their triggers, develop coping skills, and come up with an ongoing plan of action to support lasting recovery.
  • Peer support – Substance abuse counselors often encourage patients to participate in support groups like AA, NA, or SMART recovery to help them gain compassion, fellowship, and guidance in recovery. Peer support can help address emotional and mental needs even after treatment is over.

Comprehensive treatment programs should be dynamic and easily adjusted for optimal wellness if needed. Therapists will monitor the patient’s progress, identify any new concerns, and continue to serve the individual needs of the patient throughout the duration of their treatment.

3. Social and Familial Needs

Addiction is a disease of isolation and the opposite is true of recovery. Human beings are social creatures and people in recovery need socialization to thrive. However, many aspects of one’s social life can be affected by drug and alcohol abuse. For example, addiction may affect one’s family and friends, work-life, and even relationships with the law. Some individuals may even have cultural beliefs that will affect their course of treatment. As a result, the following social and familial needs should also be addressed through a comprehensive substance abuse treatment plan.[2]

  • Relationships – Some patients may participate in family therapy to address issues in the home. They may also discuss with their therapists the difficulties they have within their relationships and how to improve them.
  • Job – This aspect of treatment considers what each person requires to obtain or maintain employment during/after treatment.
  • Legal – If an individual is facing a legal issue, he or she has the right to work with a case manager and/or lawyer during treatment to provide the necessary resources for the best possible outcome.
  • Cultural beliefs and practices – A person’s culture, such as their race, sex, location, and how they were raised can impact who they are as a person as well as their treatment needs. By taking cultural beliefs and practices into consideration, therapists can create the best possible treatment plan for their patients.

While relationships are typically addressed in group or family therapy, work-life and legal issues are addressed with the help of case management services. Patients can work with their case manager to solve legal issues, file necessary paperwork, work on job applications, or communicate with a current employer.

In addition to the services offered by case management, each patient’s individualized substance abuse treatment plan will include local and national resources to 12-step meetings, other recovery support groups, harm-reduction services, religious organizations, and more. Having access to these resources can help patients better adjust to life after rehab.

Individualized Substance Abuse Treatment Planning at PAX Memphis

At PAX Memphis, we’re dedicated to creating individualized treatment plans for each of our clients. We are dedicated to addressing patients as whole people by providing medical, emotional, and social support on a personal level. If you or your loved one are looking for an addiction treatment program that will listen to your needs and tailor a treatment plan to help you reach your goals, pick up the phone and contact one of our dedicated addiction specialists today.