The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), estimates that over 2.1 million individuals enter into a specialized treatment facility every year. The initial step into being admitted into a drug addiction treatment facility is the intake process. This is an entirely confidential process, and no information obtained during one’s intake process will be shared with other clients at the facility.

Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is an extremely prevalent disorder that plagues the world. It is the dependence on a legal or illegal drug or medicine. When an individual is addicted to drugs, he or she will be unable to stop abusing the substance regardless of the negative consequences and/or harm it may cause to the individual’s life. Intense cravings for the drug are common symptoms of a drug addiction. An individual may find that he or she would like to stop abusing drugs, but is unable to do so without help. Drug addiction can cause irreparable damage to one’s physiology, in addition to long-term consequences that can affect one’s relationships and employment.

Treatment Facilities

There are many different ways drug rehabilitation centers work. Every treatment program differs and each has specific areas of expertise. Some will focus on different cultures, races, religions, and/or focusing on individuals who have suffered from abuse, or have other psychological disorders. During most substance abuse rehabilitation programs, individuals are offered some form of group and/or individual therapy, and depending on the facility, individual, and drug abused, occasionally medication is available to help with the possible discomforts of withdrawal.

Some of the types of rehabilitation facilities available in today’s society include:

  • Brief intervention
  • Partial hospitalization
  • Outpatient
  • Short-term residential
  • Long-term residential
  • Sober living facilities

Individuals who struggle with cases of acute dependency will most likely attend an inpatient, or residential, substance abuse treatment facility. An inpatient facility requires the individual to reside at the clinic, hospital or facility while he or she goes through the detoxification and rehabilitation program. Residential programs house individuals similarly to college dormitories, as multiple individuals will typically live in one area. This living arrangement can help progress one’s recovery as it can provide individuals with a group of supportive peers that are going through similar experiences.

Occasionally, short-stay options may be available and beneficial for individuals who enter a residential treatment who already successfully completed the detoxification process. This can provide an opportunity for an individual to go through a couple weeks of group and individual therapy in addition to experiencing other possibly beneficial aspects of the residential treatment program. Less severe cases of substance abuse may be treated with outpatient services. Many outpatient substance abuse facilities offer similar programming to that of a residential facility, but they allow the individual to reside outside of the facility, and participants are allowed to leave and come back each day.

Intake Process

The intake process is typically what happens when an individual first arrives at any substance abuse rehabilitation treatment facility or program. It is an interview process that is used by facilities to admit an individual into a given substance abuse treatment program. Each program is different and may have unique aspects to their intake process. Most commonly individuals will first meet with a psychologist, and/or a counselor or therapist and a doctor.

During the initial stages of the intake process individuals will be asked to divulge his or her complete personal substance use history. This commonly includes the type or types of substances used, the amount used, the combinations, and the apparent impact of abuse on one’s lives. Some of the typical questions asked can include, but are not limited to the following:

  • How young were you when you first began using?
  • What types of alcohol and other drugs do you use?
  • How often do you use alcohol and drugs?
  • How much alcohol and drugs do you use?
  • What were your “drugs of choice”?
  • When did you first realize your alcohol and drug use had become a problem?
  • What has been your method of ingestion? How did you use your drugs (inhale, drink, smoke, intravenous, snort)?

Though many of the above questions can be uncomfortable for an individual to answer, most facilities create save environments to allow individuals to be open and honest. It is essential to remember that lying during one’s intake interview can seriously hinder one’s development in his or her treatment program. Though potentially embarrassing, it is vital to one’s success in treatment to be open and honest with staff members during one’s time in treatment.

The information that is gathered during one’s intake process is what is used by the treatment facility professionals to create an individualized treatment plan, as every person is different and will require unique attention. Financial circumstances and payment options are also reviewed during one’s intake process.

Going Through One’s Belongings

Immediately subsequent to one’s intake interview and a part of the initial process of settling into a residential treatment facility includes going through one’s belongings. Though each facility is different, there are standard items that are prohibited in most facilities. Some of the typical contraband can include the following:

  • Pillows
  • Excessive makeup or jewelry
  • Over-the-counter medications that have been opened
  • Bed linens
  • Food or drinks
  • Fans
  • Revealing clothing
  • Alcohol or drugs
  • Weapons
  • Musical instruments
  • Mouthwash
  • Pornography/Herbs
  • Large amounts of cash
  • Radios
  • Electronic devices
  • Clothing that promote drugs or alcohol

Many facilities will take cellphones, computers, and/or other communication devices. Some of the items that are usually allowed can include the following:

  • Current prescriptions
  • Laundry supplies
  • Electric razor
  • New, unopened, over-the-counter medications
  • Calling cards
  • Shaving cream
  • Hygiene items
  • Alarm clock
  • Proper, modest clothing for the duration of the program

It is helpful to know what is allowed before one enters into a program; many have a list that they will happily give out as to what is and is not allowed in their specific facility.

Following the Intake Process

Achieving and maintaining sobriety requires discipline and determination. There are a plethora of substance abuse treatment options available, and it is important to select one that is a good fit. Individuals are more likely to stick with a program if he or she is comfortable with the program chosen, which will increase one’s chances of long-term health and sobriety.


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