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Millions suffer from addiction annually, 23.5 million, or one in every 10 Americans over the age of 12. Only about 11% receive treatment.

Those who get treatment will have many commonalities, like the loss of control and the desire to continue using despite adverse consequences. The differences include the substance of choice, psychosocial factors, personal history, and health factors.

Alcohol withdrawal looks different than methamphetamine or opioid withdrawal. The physical differences mean that each individual needs individualized treatment. Even two people withdrawing from the same drug can experience various symptoms. These differences emphasize the need for a treatment plan that is as unique as you.

What is a Treatment Plan and Why Do I Need One?

A treatment plan is like a roadmap. It gives guidance and direction. Think about taking a road trip to a place you have never been to. The catch is that you plan this trip without using a map or GPS.

Do you know where you are going? Probably not, if you have never been there. If so, you might reach your destination, but let’s say you don’t. In that case, it would be difficult to know if you arrived.

A treatment plan helps your therapist, and you know if you have accomplished your goals. These plans are individualized to meet your unique needs and circumstances. Has someone told you that you need to lose weight, stop smoking, go to rehab, or anything else? Likely they have, and it comes from a well-meaning place. The problem is that someone else’s plans for us do not work.

A treatment plan consists of a problem list, goals, objectives, interventions, and outcomes.

The problem list is evidenced by signs and symptoms. For example, Jane has 3 DUIs and has just entered treatment. The problem can be phrased as “the inability to maintain sobriety outside of structured care evidenced by her 3 arrests for DUI and Jane’s report that she experiences withdrawal symptoms.”

The goal is a statement about the condition expected to change in the client. It should be geared toward learning new skills and coping methods. Goals are typically unseen. For example, the client will gain insight (goal) into their addiction…

Objectives are specific skills that the client must learn to achieve the goal. These statements are written clearly so that anyone could know if they read it. Objectives are something that can be measured. For example, the client will obtain a sponsor by the second week of treatment. Getting a sponsor is something that can be measured because it is either true or false.

Interventions are what the therapist or clinician does to help the client achieve their objectives.

Outcomes are the evaluation to determine if the goals and objectives have been met. You might be asked to complete a survey to score cravings, depression levels, or some other behavior. Behaviors, thoughts, and feelings can be counted to determine if a given treatment is working.

How Many Goals Should I Have?

Goals and objectives should encompass several factors that could impact sobriety. Sobriety from drugs and alcohol are the primary focus of substance abuse treatment, so these would be number 1 and 2.

Treatment plans should also consider the following areas:

  • Medical or mental health conditions. A client might have diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These factors must be included in the treatment plan. Untreated medical or mental health issues can negatively impact recovery.
  • Legal issues. Suppose there are any pending legal issues like a DUI or other criminal arrests. In that case, your probation officer may want to coordinate with your treatment provider. Perhaps treatment might count towards your legal requirements.
  • Psychosocial concerns (e.g., support system, housing). This goal helps you identify other factors that might have contributed to substance use. For example, if you were evicted, finding adequate housing would be paramount to your continued sobriety. A sound support system is also crucial and can consist of many support types, like friends, family, 12-Step groups, or spiritual ties. Psychosocial stressors are not limited to housing and support systems. Still, your team will help you with what is most important to work towards.
  • Maybe you dropped out of school because of substance use. Making an education plan could help improve your self-esteem and provide motivation for sobriety.
  • Employment/vocational. Some clients have had negative consequences at work because of their substance use. These consequences can include being fired, placement on a last chance agreement, or general discord.
  • Children and family needs. Addiction does not happen in a vacuum; it affects everyone around us. Your clinical team will work with to identify goals to mend family relationships.

Some of the categories might not be necessary for your circumstances. Perhaps you have no legal concerns, or you graduated college and have no desire to return. Those items would not be included in your treatment plan. Whatever is most prominent and relevant to your situation will be included.

How to Develop Operational Goals

Your therapist will work with you to identify and develop goals. Goals should be measurable and work toward creating or learning new behavior rather than just eliminating or removing a behavior. Take, for example, developing a plan for drinking and recovery.

An example of developing a goal:

Instead of: Jane will stop drinking.

Use: Jane will develop a program of recovery that is congruent with a sober lifestyle.

The client (or their family) must be the subject of each goal.

An example of a goal:

Jane will learn the skills necessary to manage cravings and live a sober lifestyle.

Treatment goals should be SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. If treatment goals are not SMART, they will be challenging to achieve.

Rather than make a goal to be healthy, a SMART goal specifies and measures how that will happen. A better goal is: I will eat at least 1 healthy meal daily for the next 7 days. Once “healthy” is defined, the rest of the goal follows the formula to be a SMART goal.

The Ho tai Way – Recovery for Women is ready to help you set treatment goals to improve your life. If you are prepared to stop using or drinking, call our admissions department at (714) 581-3974.