Making the decision to enter addictiontreatment can be daunting. There are several barriers to treatment, including the cost, your willingness to make a change, and having to go through withdrawal. But understanding the intake process can make your transition into treatment less intimidating. 

When you seek treatment for a substance use disorder, you’ll have to go through a process of intake and assessment. This process may involve insurance verification, medical exams, and psychological assessments. Learn more about the intake process and what you can expect when you enter addiction treatment

How Do I Find an Addiction Treatment Program?

You may be connected to an addiction treatment program through a variety of sources. It’s common to speak to a doctor or therapist who either encourages you to seek treatment or refers you to a treatment program. You can also seek treatment on your own. 

There are treatment programs all over the country. You can start by looking at nearby treatment centers, or you can look at going to treatment outside of your immediate area. There are pros and cons to getting out of your everyday environment to get treatment, but some people like to get away from their old neighborhood where they have easier connections to finding drugs. 

When you’re looking for an addiction treatment program, make sure you find one that is grounded in evidence-based treatment. Evidence-based treatment, or evidence-based therapy, refers to treatment options that have been scientifically studied and found to be effective. That doesn’t mean they are 100% effective for every person, but they’re more likely to yield results than alternative options. 

Alternative therapies can include things like yoga, meditation, and acupuncture. Some of these things can be helpful to some people, but they haven’t proven to yield scientifically significant results in research. If they are used, they should be supplemental to things like approved medications, behavioral therapies, group therapy, and other evidence-based approaches. 

What are the ASAM Criteria?

The ASAM Criteria is a helpful tool that’s used to find the right treatment and level of care for people with substance use disorders and co-occurring conditions. It’s used during the intake process, but it may also be used to assess your treatment needs throughout treatment or transfer you to a new treatment program. It can also be used when discharging clients from treatment. 

It involves a six-dimensional assessment that was introduced by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. These six dimensions are designed to help doctors and clinicians assess all of a person’s needs when they seek addiction treatment, so it covers medical, psychological, and social needs. For treatment to be effective, these needs should be assessed and addressed.  

The greater you need in these six categories, the higher your level of care should be. They’re also used to place you in one of the four major levels of care. These levels include:

  • Medically managed intensive inpatient treatment (medical detox)
  • Residential or inpatient services
  • Intensive outpatient or partial hospitalization services, and
  • Outpatient treatment

There are also several sublevels that you may go through. As you progress in treatment, you may move on to lower levels of care, and if you have setbacks, you may also move to higher levels of care. These moves between levels of care may also involve the ASAM Criteria. 

The six dimensions include the following:

  • Withdrawal potential or acute intoxication. If you present to treatment intoxicated, or if you’ve just recently stopped using drugs, you’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. Medical professionals can assess the likelihood that you will experience withdrawal and how severe it may be. Severe withdrawal requires a higher level of care for safety and efficacy in treatment. 
  • Biomedical conditions and complications. Your medical needs should be among the first factors addressed when you enter a treatment program. Safety is a top priority in treatment. Addressing substance use problems is much more difficult if physical and medical needs are ignored. More severe medical needs may require a higher level of care in treatment. 
  • Emotional, behavioral, and cognitive needs. Psychological and behavioral issues are common in people with substance use disorders. Many deal with anxiety and depression, which can feed into substance use problems. Your thoughts and emotions can also contribute to good or poor coping skills. Severe mental health problems may require higher levels of care. 
  • Readiness to change. Not everyone in treatment is ready to change. Some attend treatment to appease loved ones or satisfy a court order, but that doesn’t mean treatment can’t be effective. Some therapies are designed to increase your stage of change, and identifying your attitude toward treatment can help get you the care you need. 
  • Relapse and continued use potential. The more likely you are to continue using drugs, or to relapse, the higher your level of care should be. Higher levels of care can involve inpatient or residential treatment that involves 24 access to care and accountability. If you’re likely to relapse, you may need residential care. 
  • Living environment. Your recovery environment is the place you live while in recovery. If you live with people who still use substances or in other environments that may threaten your safety or sobriety, that needs to be addressed. You may be connected with sober living communities and housing, or you may need residential treatment. 


What is a Biopsychosocial Assessment and Treatment Plan?

When you’re going through the intake process, you’ll sit down with a doctor or therapist who will conduct a biopsychosocial assessment. This assessment is essentially a questionnaire that covers your biological, psychological, and social needs. These kinds of assessments can also be used by social workers, case managers, and clinicians. The assessment is designed to find problems that may be contributing to mental or behavioral health issues. 

In the case of addiction treatment, it helps to identify issues that may cause, contribute to, or come from a substance use disorder. In some cases, you may fill out paperwork that answers many of the questions on a biopsychosocial assessment. Then your therapist will review the paperwork you filled out and then talk with you to fill in gaps or to get to know you better. 

A biopsychosocial assessment may also be paired with the ASAM Criteria to help identify treatment goals and form a treatment plan. Your treatment plan will be the aspect of addiction treatment that is completely tailored to your needs. Addiction is a complex disease, and people come to addiction treatment with various problems that need to be addressed. For that reason, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan, and the biopsychosocial helps to tailor treatment to your needs. 

How Does Payment Work?

You can pay for addiction treatment in various ways. The best way is to go through your insurance company. Insurance providers are required to offer similar coverage for mental and behavioral health treatment than they do for medical procedures and treatment. Most addiction treatment centers accept payment from private insurance providers. 

Federal insurance providers like Medicare and Medicaid may limit your options, but some facilities accept those forms of insurance. You can also pay privately out of pocket or with help from friends or relatives. In some cases, treatment centers will reserve some openings that they offer for free to people in need, but these are much harder to find. 

When you’re seeking addiction treatment, the facility may help verify your insurance coverage and make sure it’s accepted. You can also speak to an insurance representative and check your plan and coverage options. They may also be able to give you a list of in-network providers.

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