Individualized Addiction Treatment: Why It’s Essential for Recovery

Millions of people in the United States suffer from addiction. Although these people all share the same disease, they come from different backgrounds and have varying life experiences, physical and mental health factors, and unique treatment needs.

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Not surprisingly, experts have found that utilizing a single approach to addiction treatment isn’t the most effective. Instead, treatment programs designed to address each individual’s unique needs are critical to their recovery from addiction.1

In this blog, we’ll provide more information about individualized addiction treatment programs, what you can expect when you enroll in one, and the benefits of this type of care.

Understanding addiction

Before we dive into the benefits of individualized treatment, it’s important to understand that every person’s experience with addiction is unique. Many different factors contribute to addiction, including:2

  • Biology: A person’s genes account for about half of their risk for addiction. Other factors like gender, ethnicity and mental health disorders can also influence their likelihood of becoming addicted.
  • Environment: Influences from friends and family, economic status, and general quality of life can affect a person’s likelihood of drug and alcohol addiction. Other factors like peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, stress, early exposure to drugs and alcohol, and lack of parental involvement also play a role.
  • Development: The earlier a person uses drugs or alcohol, the more likely they will develop an addiction. Drug abuse during critical stages in an individual’s development can influence behavior, judgment, and self-control.

Since so many different factors influence a person’s likelihood of developing addiction, one type of treatment won’t work for everyone. Instead, treatment professionals must consider each person’s underlying contributing factors and design a unique treatment plan for that person.

Individualized addiction treatment: What is it?

As stated previously, no single factor causes addiction, and no single treatment will “cure” it. An individualized treatment plan considers all the parts of an individual’s substance use disorder to determine their needs for lasting recovery. Essentially, the road to achieving lasting sobriety looks different for everyone. Therefore, addiction treatment professionals should tailor the components of that journey to each individual’s needs and goals.

In the Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states, “Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug abuse. To be effective, treatment must address the individual’s drug abuse and any associated medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems. It is also important that treatment be appropriate to the individual’s age, gender, ethnicity, and culture.”

Benefits of individualized addiction treatment

  • Individualized addiction treatment addresses all aspects of a person’s addiction, including the physical, mental, spiritual, and social aspects.
  • It provides multiple therapy options and is most accommodating to every individual recovering from addiction.
  • Individualized care helps people navigate unique challenges along the road to recovery.
  • It offers a solid foundation for sobriety with a stable support network.
  • This type of care provides a more rewarding and empowering treatment process because it meets the unique needs of each individual.

What is included in an individualized treatment plan?

Research has indicated the key to an effective individualized treatment plan is:3

  • An initial comprehensive assessment of the person’s treatment needs
  • Ongoing monitoring of symptoms
  • Continued monitoring of behavioral changes

Every treatment plan is different, but they should all address specific challenges, including withdrawal, overall mental and physical health, co-occurring disorders, and aftercare (continuing care after detox and rehab are over).

Treatment for medical problems

Drug and alcohol abuse can contribute to many serious health problems, including malnutrition, infections like HIV and hepatitis C, dental problems, and cardiovascular disease, among others.4 These health problems must be addressed early on during treatment to improve a person’s physical health and enhance their chances of long-term success in recovery.

Treatment for mental health conditions

Drug use and mental illness often coexist. Depending on an individual’s mental health status, they may also need treatment for anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or another type of mental health condition.5 Many people may use drugs to cope with mental illness, so treatment professionals must treat both the physical addiction and the mental illness concurrently. Additionally, individuals with conditions like PTSD may require specialized trauma-informed care during rehab to address past trauma and its contribution to addictive behaviors.

Medication-assisted treatment

The early stages of recovery can be difficult due to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Medication-assisted treatment can provide some relief and help people get through detox without relapsing. Additionally, with certain drugs like opioids or alcohol, treatment professionals may recommend continuing with medication-assisted therapy after detox. Doing so will help individuals cope with intense cravings or lingering withdrawal symptoms.

Evidence-based therapies

Treatment methods like cognitive behavioral therapy can help people make positive behavioral changes that support a sober lifestyle. Professionals can use different types of evidence-based therapies depending on the person’s treatment needs. These methods help individuals break negative patterns in their lives and develop new, healthier ways of living.

Family support

Family support is key to any individualized addiction treatment plan. Family members can contribute to a loved one’s healing process and provide a great deal of support by learning about addiction and recovery. They can also develop healthy behaviors and communication methods. Additionally, addiction treatment professionals should recommend that loved ones care for themselves by engaging in individual counseling sessions or attending community recovery support groups.

What should a post-rehab treatment plan look like?

Of course, treatment shouldn’t just end after detox and rehab are over. People recovering from addiction need ongoing, long-term support to sustain their sobriety. This is especially true if their home environment is not supportive or free from drug and alcohol abuse.

Addiction is considered a chronic disease. Like other chronic ailments, treatment isn’t a “cure” for addiction. However, people who suffer from substance use disorders can effectively manage their addiction with individualized treatment and ongoing care. Long-term aftercare can help prevent relapse and support people in recovery as they adjust to living an independent sober life after rehab.

Post-rehab treatment, such as an intensive outpatient program (IOP), a sober living program, or a certified peer recovery support program, can help individuals manage relapse triggers and build confidence in sobriety. They may require different types of treatment after rehab is over, depending on factors like their:

  • Living situation
  • History of substance abuse and relapse
  • Physical health
  • Mental health conditions 

For example, someone who does not have a home to return to will need a stable and sober living environment after rehab. Or, a person without a job will need employment assistance to obtain a source of income for stability. All these factors play a role in a person’s ability to maintain their sobriety long-term.

Professionals should also design post-treatment care to meet the individual needs of those in recovery. However, it’s ultimately up to each individual to follow through. Addiction treatment professionals should help rehab clients create a plan for post-treatment support, but a person must take action and use that plan to make lasting positive changes in their life.

Related post: 10 Key Questions to Ask a Potential Drug Rehab Center

Get individualized addiction treatment at Nova Recovery Center

Addiction affects many different aspects of a person’s life. Therefore, a rehab program must treat the whole person individually to be successful. If you or a loved one is looking for addiction treatment services, the professionals at Nova Recovery Center can help you make an informed decision and get help for addiction. Please call (888) 427-4932 today to speak with a member of our admissions team.


  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment 
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction 
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4695774/ 
  4. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/addiction-health
  5. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/substance-use-and-mental-health

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