Steps of Addiction Recovery

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

The Various Steps of Addiction Recovery

Addiction comes in many forms, and so does recovery. It’s important to understand – and follow – all the steps to ensure the greatest chance of success.


“Rehab” is a general term for intensive, supervised addiction treatment programs that are designed to get people weaned off of substances. The goal is eventually get people to a point where they no longer turn to substances to manage or escape from their problems.

Rehab can help you or someone you love transition from addiction safely however, the length and form of treatment varies, based on your personal situation and dependence on drugs or alcohol. No single addiction treatment program works for everyone. It’s important to figure out if rehab is right for you and then choose a program that meets your needs.


Detoxification, or detox as it is often called,  generally refers to the process of removing toxins from the body. In the case of substance use, detox specifically refers to the period of time that the body is allowed to process or metabolize any drugs and alcohol in the system and, in doing so, clears their toxic influence. Formal detox programs can provide a number of interventions to assist with:

  • Safely and comfortably clearing the body completely of the unwanted substance.
  • Managing symptoms of acute withdrawal.
  • Encouraging ongoing substance use disorder treatment for the detoxing individual.

Detox is separated into two types:

  • Medically assisted (or medically supervised) detox – This type of medication-assisted addiction treatment is done under the care of medical and mental health professionals. The observation is helpful to increase safety and comfort levels for people undergoing the painful symptoms and potential medical complications that may result from ending substance use. At times, medications can be administered to ease the process and reduce the strong cravings for the substance that typically are experienced at this point.
  • Clinically managed (“social”) detox – This style is a short-term, non-medical strategy for someone wanting to end substance use. Some social detox settings will only provide a room for detox to take place while others will provide more hands-on treatment approaches including peer encouragement and professional support throughout the detox duration.

The best option will depend on the substance being abused, the current level of physical dependence and the desire/need of the individual to use or not use medically assisted techniques.

The Three Stages of Detox

According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, detox is comprised of three stages:

  1. Evaluation. This step will assess:
    • The presence of alcohol and drugs through urine, breath, or blood testing.
    • The person’s current mental health state.
    • Any existing medical issues.
    • The most appropriate strategy.
  2. Stabilization. This will consume the majority of treatment. It will begin with acclimating the person to the detox process as well as providing medical and/or psychological services to treat symptoms, if required.
  3. Build willingness for further treatment. Detox alone does not constitute thorough addiction treatment. As withdrawal symptoms resolve throughout the detoxification period, staff will typically begin promoting further treatment to increase the chances of sustained recovery following detox.

Going through the detox process is vital for those who are trying to get sober. Many people believe that they can detox at home but this is never recommended. Detoxing, especially from substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines is dangerous and can even prove to be life-threatening in some cases. If you or a loved one wants to over come substance abuse, it is vital to go through a detox in a professional, medically supervised setting.

Detox is the first step on the journey to addiction recovery. Once the body is free from toxins, the next step is critical.


Intensive Outpatient Treatment (sometimes referred to as IOP for “Intensive Outpatient Program”) is a primary treatment program that is sometimes the recommendation of a clinical and medical assessment. IOP may be recommended for those who do not need medically-supervised detox. IOP can also help people in recovery to continue their recovery therapies following successful detox, on a part-time yet intensive schedule, designed to accommodate work and family life.

For substance use disorders, Partial Hospitalization does offer medical detox, but only to people who do not face life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal is rarely life-threatening for many substances of abuse, especially with a medical professional’s oversight; however, withdrawal from some substances – like alcohol and benzodiazepines, for example – requires 24-hour medical monitoring to ensure clients do not suffer from seizures, heart attack, or other severe side effects.

For individuals using a tapering regimen as a part of their addiction treatment program, they will benefit from intensive therapy sessions for several weeks to change their behaviors.  Partial Hospitalization is a great option for these individuals. It is also a perfect step between completely inpatient and completely outpatient programs. It’s an important step in the addiction recovery process – one that cannot be overlooked. Both IOP and PHP programs will lead those in recovery to transitional living facilities, such as sober living homes.


Sober living is a vital part of the addiction recovery process. Some people might refer to it as a “halfway house” or a “transitional living” – and those terms are correct, but we’re really talking about sober living. While in recovery, choosing a safe living environment, one that is conducive to recovery and offers a range of treatment services,  is very important. Sober living homes are one option that allows you to recover in a safe place with others in similar situations. They help you to transition back into the community after intensive inpatient services and to learn to live independently without the use of drugs and/or alcohol.

What is a Sober Living Home?

Sober living homes are group homes that are free of alcohol and drugs for individuals in recovery. They operate like a co-op, where you pay the costs and maintain the home by contributing to the upkeep of the house through rent and chores. There are all types of sober living homes. Some are owned by businesses or religious groups, but the majority of homes are run privately, most often by groups of sober people who form an informal agreement to have a sober living arrangement. 

These privately run homes allow you to invest in your own recovery. Each sober living home operates differently. Some have a resident manager that oversees and enforces the house rules, while other homes have a social model approach in which each resident has decision-making power. Everyone has to follow house rules in order to stay in the home, regardless of management style.

How Are Sober Living Homes Different to Other Residential Programs?

Sober living homes are different than other residential programs, such as residential treatment centers, in that they are more loosely structured to facilitate employment and other outside obligations. Random drug testing may be required in some homes. As a resident, you are free to come and go as necessary for work, family, business, or leisure activity as long as you adhere to the house rules.

You are independent and responsible for your own recovery and well-being. If someone in the house is not committed and/or he or she is not ready for recovery, it can hinder the recovery process for the entire house; that is why most homes require that you have already completed a treatment program and/or detox. In addition, many homes will require you to agree to sign a contract stating your commitment to recovery. This is all to safeguard the recovery process for all the residents of the home.

Aftercare and Alumni

One of the most important aspects when it comes to addiction recovery is the alumni and aftercare communities. After leaving a inpatient or outpatient treatment program, great rehabs will set their clients up with an aftercare program in which they can get in contact with a recovery community and alumni program.

This type of community engagement can do a lot for those have gone through a treatment program. Not only will they be able to meet other people who have gone through similar experiences and may even be in the same boat as them at the moment, they will be able to connect with others who have been in recovery for years. The experience that these individuals can bring and the advice and mentorship that they can offer is sometimes more valuable than other aspects of actual treatment. It is vital to find a treatment center that sees the value in the addiction recovery community, and at Renaissance Recovery we understand this.

ADDICTION TREATMENT at Renaissance Recovery

For parents or those affected by addiction, one of the biggest misunderstandings is that once a patient completes rehab, they’re cured. Nothing could be further from the truth. Addiction didn’t happen overnight and so it makes sense that addiction recovery won’t happen after a few weeks in detox. The underlying causes of addiction to years, even decades, to propagate.

Treating these issues requires a holistic approach. For each step that is skipped, the chance of relapse increase dramatically At Renaissance Recovery, our programs are crafted to suit the needs of the individual. Every aspect of their situation is addressed: past history, any medical conditions, mental health, family considerations, insurance coverage, budget issues, employment issues and family relationships.

Contact us today by calling 866.330.9449 for various levels of addiction treatment in California.866.330.9449

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Pat C

“I owe my life and my happiness to these people. October 8th, 2019 marked two years of sobriety for me, and prior to finding Renaissance I hadn’t had 24 hours sober in nearly 20 years.”

Paige R

“Renaissance Recovery truly changed my life.”

Courtney S

” I’m grateful for my experience at Renaissance, the staff are very experienced, they gave me the hope I needed in early sobriety, and a variety of coping mechanisms that I can use on a daily basis.”

Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country