group therapy addiction treatment

What Does it Mean to ‘Step Up’ or ‘Step Down’ in Addiction Treatment?

What many people don’t realize about addiction treatment is that it’s not a predictable and finite experience. If it were possible, people would simply enter drug rehab, conquer their addiction and move on with their lives. Instead, addiction treatment is a continuum with ups and downs. 

As part of this continuum, it’s normal to ‘step up’ and ‘step down’ at times. This could mean that you’re making progress and stepping down to a lower level of care, such as inpatient to outpatient. Or, it could mean that you have hit a roadblock and are stepping up, such as going from outpatient to intensive outpatient. 

Why Do People Step Up or Down, and When Does This Happen? 

It’s important to know that stepping up and down is part of the recovery experience. This could happen at any point in time, depending on how you are progressing through recovery. Treatment options range from low-intensity outpatient rehab, which only meets for a few hours each week, to high-intensity inpatient rehab with around-the-clock care. 

Let’s say that you completed inpatient drug rehab in Agoura and did very well. Your care team feels that you’re ready to step down to a lower level of care, which in this case would be intensive outpatient treatment. Unfortunately, when you spend more time at home, you fall back into some harmful patterns of behavior and start drinking again. In this case, you would step up to a higher level of treatment to get the extra support you need. 

On the other hand, if you continue to move through the program and meet your goals, you will step down to lower and less structured forms of care. And once you progress through outpatient treatment, you can eventually decrease the number of support groups and counseling sessions you attend. However, be aware that cutting out these tools completely is not a good idea. You need a strong handle on your addiction before you can do this. 

What Does the Addiction Treatment Continuum Look Like? 

To understand the continuum, you’ll need to know your treatment options. This spectrum exists not just because people need different levels of help at different times, but also because not all substance use disorders are the same. For example, a person with a marijuana addiction probably won’t need the same level of care as someone with heroin addiction. 

The levels of care, as determined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), are: 

  • Prevention/early intervention – Level 0
  • Outpatient services – Level 1
  • Intensive outpatient/partial hospitalization – Level 2
  • Residential/inpatient services – Level 3
  • Intensive inpatient – Level 4

Recovery Must Start Somewhere. Begin Your Journey Today. 

Awakenings Treatment Center is an outpatient drug rehab in Agoura Hills, California. We have intensive outpatient and extended care treatment options, and we are affiliated with local sober living houses. We are prepared to walk the recovery journey with you today and always. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options.