Why Continuum of Care is Critical in Addiction Recovery

When people think about rehabilitation as a concept, they visualize it as an ongoing thread of care that starts when the patient decides to get treatment (or when they overdose and end up in the hospital) and proceeds with the treatment and aftercare. Well, this is typical; however, the reality is a little different.

To help drive this point home, we’ll use an analogy of a patient who’s suffered a neck injury following an accident.

A patient who has sustained a neck injury expects a thorough treatment, followed by a series of checkups and aftercare. However, if they only get treated for the incident and then sent home without any information about further rehabilitation solutions and checkups, they would view this as absurd, because a lot of things could go wrong, with some bearing grave consequences. The same scenario applies to addiction patients – they need to get meticulous care, yet they often receive fragmented treatment which exposes them to life-threatening situations.

A full continuum of care is the best type of care that substance abuse patients should receive, as it helps them during and after the program is done.  If the patient does not get continual care right from the time they begin treatment, it’s highly likely that they will discontinue the program and after a while, relapse. Consequently, they may fall back into their old habits, and the cycle goes on and on.


In some cases, patients have to wait for weeks or even months after their detox, before they can get into a rehab program. Unfortunately, many things can happen in between this time, and a range of substance abuse problems can land them back in the hospital, prison, or worse. But the same scenario can happen even when patients go back home after a substance abuse rehabilitation program – without aftercare and follow-up plans, patients are susceptible to relapse.

Why continuum of care?

The continuum of care bridges care through all stages of detoxification and recovery process, and after the patient goes back home.

In a continuum of care program, a patient is referred to a detoxification facility as soon as he or she arrives in hospital, to help stabilize them. While they are in detox, a place in substance abuse rehab is secured, so that once they are done with the detox, they go straight into rehab. While in the rehab, the patient gets a follow-up plan for going back home and after that, get some resources and programs, like the 12-step and so on, that they can use to as they strive to fit into the community.

Top facilities that offer a full continuum of care have integrated steps that allow the patient to transition to life easily. For example, the patient starts with detox and goes to residential treatment, then partial hospitalization, followed by intensive outpatient. They then join an outpatient group for support and aftercare. They also provide psychological assessment, medication guided therapy, and a wide range of specialized therapeutic care modalities.

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