Addiction and Substance Use Disorder is a chronic neurologic disorder, as defined by the United States Surgeon General. As a chronic condition, individuals suffering from substance dependencies have greater success and fewer relapses when they participate in long-term continuing care. The first year after receiving initial inpatient treatment is a critical time and often requires continued recovery management, social support and monitoring by addiction professionals.

Research has shown that a single short-term treatment intervention is not adequate for most people with an addiction. Addiction is also a disease that can adversely affect one’s health, housing, employment, and interpersonal relationships. A comprehensive recovery management plan that addresses the neurological and lifestyle components is considered best practice in addiction treatment.

With that in mind, we have outlined the addiction “continuum of care” to show the stages of treatment that our clientele follow in the first year of sobriety, from acute to sober, independent living.


ASSESSMENT: Getting an assessment to determine if you or your loved needs substance use treatment is the first step. Clinical professionals in behavioral health facilities can perform an assessment to determine the level of care and recommend the next steps.

DETOX: The first step in treatment for many is in an acute, inpatient hospital setting. Depending on the substance and the severity of the disorder you or your loved one may require medical stabilization and relief from withdrawal symptoms.  These facilities provide 24-hour nursing care, a psychiatric evaluation, detox medications, individual and group counseling, and a discharge plan with clinical and medical follow-up appointments. The average length of stay is 5-7 days.

CLINICALLY MANAGED RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT: These clients are considered medically stable to “stepdown” a level of care from detox, but still require a structured 24-hour clinical care in a safe, enclosed setting. Residential treatment facilities relapse prevention, individual and group therapy, 12-step education and family services. It is in these programs that residents learn basic tools and strategies to help them remain sober once they are discharged. A high-quality residential program will offer case management to address housing, legal, employment and medical issues, as well as discharge planning to ensure their client has a strong post-treatment “continuing care” program upon leaving the residential setting. The average length stay is 30 days

SOBER TRANSITIONAL LIVING: Sober living residences vary greatly in the amount support, structure and services offered. A Transitional Living Facility, like Beacon House, provides a structured recovery environment, that includes 24-hour staffing and monitoring, case management, requires intensive outpatient and aftercare programming, support groups and peer support.  The average treatment duration is 6-18 months.


The Levels of Care described below can be provided within a Sober Transitional Living Facility, or as part of an individual’s long-term recovery plan if they return home directly from inpatient treatment. Many people with substance use disorder find these requirements are more manageable in a Sober Transitional Living setting.   

INTENSIVE OUTPATIENT PROGRAMMING (IOP): Intensive Outpatient is a “step-down” in level of care from inpatient treatment. A licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) provides clinical, educational and group therapy classes focusing on addiction recovery for a minimum of 9 hours per week. The average treatment duration is 9 to 12 weeks. Once a client has completed IOP they will participate in an “aftercare” plan and attend group or individual therapy 1-4 times per month. The average duration of aftercare is a minimum of one year.

CASE MANAGEMENT: Substance abuse professionals serve as case workers and help remove barriers to ongoing recovery treatment and help their clients achieve stability in the areas of housing, health, and employment. These tasks involve coordination between healthcare professionals, providing transportation, teaching life skills, serving as a point of contact for family, and monitoring the client’s progress in the first year of sobriety. The average duration of case management is typically 6-12 months.

PEER SUPPORT: Peers with lived addiction and recovery experience can help guide the client through the recovery process. Social support is important for sustained recovery. Most transitional living facilities use a peer-driven model that prevents the type of self-isolating behaviors that are seen in people suffering from addiction. 

SUPPORT GROUPS: 12-step meetings like AA and NA in the community or held in a transitional living facility also provide social support, education, and are an integral path for many people in recovery. The average duration for this form of continuing care is unlimited.

Many individuals do not follow a linear addiction treatment path as outlined above and may skip steps altogether. What addiction professionals know is the importance of having a long-term recovery plan and wraparound support to tackle this chronic disease. Individuals in aftercare can double their chances of success and remain sober.

If you are looking for more information on inpatient, residential, transitional living, and continuing care for addiction please call our intake line at 502.581.0765.