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Are There Special Addiction Treatment Programs for Me?

If you have a substance use disorders (SUDs), asking for help is an important first step. But how do you know what type of treatment program is right for you? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), no single treatment is right for everyone.1 Rather, effective treatment should be tailored to meet your unique needs.2

This includes your identity, which may be largely influenced by your culture, age, gender, profession, faith, or more. In this case, looking for a specialty program that offers treatment tailored to your identity may benefit your long-term treatment goals. When you feel comfortable in your treatment program, you are more likely to stay engaged in care and have better treatment outcomes.1 Below are a few examples of special populations some treatment centers may tailor their treatment toward; it is not a complete list.


Treatment programs that are appropriate for adults may not be best suited for adolescents, since teens and adults have different psychological, developmental, and social needs. When considering a teen detox program, think about age-specific factors, such as:3,4

  • Family involvement, since parents’ involvement in their child’s treatment and recovery increases the chances of success.
  • Strategies to engage teens and help them understand the value of getting help for their problems.
  • Hands-on techniques relevant to adolescents’ concerns and developmental stages (for example, incorporating technology into treatment).
  • Positive reinforcement.
  • Whether the program is tailored to the needs of younger teens (12- to 15-year-olds) or older teens (16- to 18-year-olds).
  • Sexual issues.
  • Healthy coping mechanisms for stress, especially stress related to school and peers.
  • Emotional regulation.
  • The role friends and other peers have on a teen, and the influence they may have on substance use.
  • Academic performance and how it may be impacted by substance use.
  • Collaboration with teachers during treatment.
  • Case management to help the teen remember and attend appointments.
  • Staff who have experience working with teens and who understand how to engage and motivate them.

When working with teens, it is especially important to work as a team. Not only does the teen need to be included in their own treatment, but their parents or legal guardians do, as well, to have a well-rounded recovery experience. Everyone should be able to give input, which helps create a personal treatment plan. When everyone on the team works together, the teen may feel more supported.

Faith-Based Programs

Some faith-based detox programs may be able to offer similar services to other treatment centers but will also incorporate religious elements like prayer and congregational services.5 These spiritual elements are not only able make a recovery setting more familiar or comfortable for those seeking this type of recovery, but they also serve a therapeutic function—some studies suggest that prayer may help certain individuals reduce alcohol intake and ward off cravings.6

Having strong faith and a reliance on spiritual values are cornerstones of recovery for many people. Faith-based programs emphasize this and integrate these values into treatment. Spiritual beliefs and engaging in group activities can give hope and strength, as well as offer meaning during stressful times.7

In addition, elements of faith-based programs, such as prayer services, have shown to be effective in reducing the desire to drink or use—prayer puts the recovering person in a general mindset of asking for support (for serenity, courage, and wisdom) and may generate concepts and emotions (such as gratitude, hope, and surrender) that may result in increased self-control and fewer cravings.6  

Holistic Treatment

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommend that substance abuse treatments target substance use and wellness in comprehensive ways.1,9

Holistic treatment is a term used to describe any substance use treatment program that focuses on improving the wellbeing of the entire person, not just addressing their substance use issues. Holistic treatment promotes wellness of the mind, body, and spirit with the belief that any imbalance of these factors will lead to unwanted outcomes.

This is valuable because many people with substance use disorders (SUDs) have problems across multiple areas of functioning, but not all programs offer complete holistic services. Some services focused on treating alcohol or drug SUDs may not recognize positive characteristics of the person that could support recovery. Other programs may overlook stressors like co-occurring disorders that contribute to current use or future relapse. Holistic addiction treatments strive to address these shortcomings through a multidimensional approach that provides many therapies and services.9

Man doing yoga as part of holistic addiction treatment

  • Emotional health: Mental health state, symptoms, and ability to cope with daily stressors.
  • Environmental status: Home, surrounding neighborhood, safety, and stability.
  • Finances: Income, expenses, debt, and your satisfaction with your financial status.
  • Intellectual abilities: Taking creative opportunities and expanding skills and knowledge.
  • Occupation: A person’s fulfillment and satisfaction from their work.
  • Physical health: Medical health diagnoses, diet, exercise, and sleep habits.
  • Social life: Level of human connection and sense of belonging you feel, as well as the presence of a solid support system.
  • Spiritual life: Discovering a sense of meaning and purpose in life.

Holistic treatments evaluate and work to improve each category to boost your overall wellness. They are based on the notion that each category of wellness influences the others. This implies that no matter how strong your physical health is, your overall wellness will be limited if your emotional health suffers.10 Every part of you must work in harmony to achieve wellness and maintain long-term recovery.

Evidence-based behavioral therapies you might find at a holistic program include:9

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): A widely used style of therapy that links beliefs and thoughts to feelings and actions, it builds coping skills while identifying situations and stressors that threaten sobriety.
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI): A method used to strengthen your internal drive to remain drug-free.
  • Family therapy: Used to build strong connections and communication skills with family and significant others.
  • Contingency management: Designed to reinforce sober activities and lifestyle choices to counter the rewarding effects of substance abuse.

Holistic treatment also offers interventions that are sometimes referred to as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Alternative treatments are ones used instead of traditional strategies, while complementary treatments are used in collaboration with traditional care. These approaches fall outside of the standard care you might receive elsewhere, but many CAM strategies are safe and effective. Holistic programs may also be referred to as integrative treatments since they coordinate complementary and conventional interventions to accomplish recovery goals.10

Holistic treatment programs may use popular complementary treatments like:9

  • Natural products including herbs, vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and other products often labeled as supplements.
  • Balanced diets complemented by nutritional counseling.
  • Vitamin replenishment via IV vitamin drips.
  • Neurofeedback to increase awareness of your mind-body connection.
  • Relaxation techniques to calm the body and the mind including:
    • Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR).
    • Guided imagery.
    • Meditation.
  • Exercise and movement therapies like yoga and tai chi.
  • Chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation.
  • Massage therapy.
  • Biosound therapy.
  • Infrared sauna.
  • Cold laser therapy.

Still other holistic therapies may include:10–12

  • Acupuncture.
  • Self-hypnosis.
  • Expressive arts therapies.
  • Equine therapy.
  • Spiritual counseling.

Executive Programs

Executive SUD treatment centers, sometimes called executive rehabs or rehabs for business owners, are specialized substance use services geared toward the demanding lives of business leaders. SUD treatment centers that cater to professionals provide high-quality services in a flexible environment that permits time for the person to devote to work.

Another defining factor of executive treatment centers is the focus on confidentiality. All substance use and mental health service providers are required to maintain the privacy of people in treatment, but this issue becomes more concerning when the patient is a noteworthy figure in the community or the spokesperson for their organization or business. To avoid breaches of confidentiality, executive treatment centers will take precautions to protect the anonymity of their clientele.

Executive treatment centers might achieve confidentiality by:

  • Offering services at a remote location far removed from busy areas.
  • Transporting clients to and from treatment discretely.
  • Permitting access to the center through inconspicuous entrances and exits.
  • Protecting any records of services.
  • Training all staff to be respectful and professional by not disclosing client information to anyone outside of work.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of drug abuse treatment: A research-based guide (Third edition).
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Step by step guides to finding treatment for drug use disorders.
  3. Winters, K.C., Botzet, A.M., & Fahnhorst, T. (2011). Advances in adolescent substance abuse treatment. Current Psychiatry Reports, 13(5), 416–421.
  4. Brannigan, R., Falco, M., Dusenbury, L., & Hansen, W.B. (2004). Reducing underage drinking: A collective responsibility. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US).
  5. Washington State Department of Health, Division of Alcohol & Substance Use. (2006). Faith-based organization and chemical dependency recovery support legislative report.
  6. Ghahremani, D. (2017). Craving, prayer, and the brain. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 43(1), 1­–3.
  7. Laudet, A., Morgan, K., & White, W. (2006). The role of social supports, spirituality, religiousness, life meaning and affiliations with 12-step fellowships in quality of life satisfaction among individuals in recovery from alcohol and drug problems. Alcohol Treatment Quarterly, 24(1-2), 33–73.
  8. Sandoz, J. (2014). Finding God through the Spirituality of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Religions, 5, 948–960.
  9. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2016). The eight dimensions of wellness.
  10. National Institutes of Health. (2018). Complementary, alternative, or integrative health: What’s in a name?
  11. Kern-Godal, A., Arnevik, E. A., Walderhaug, E., & Ravndal, E. (2015). Substance use disorder treatment retention and completion: A prospective study of horse-assisted therapy (HAT) for young adults. Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, 10, 21.
  12. Fritz, T. H., Vogt, M., Lederer, A., Schneider, L., Fomicheva, E., Schneider, M., & Villringer, A. (2015). Benefits of listening to a recording of euphoric joint music making in polydrug abusers. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9, 300.
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