Treatment Plans & Goals for Substance Abuse

A substance abuse treatment plan is one of the foundational parts of addiction treatment. It is so important that most treatment centers won’t let you go a day in treatment without one. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment that works for everyone. Treatment plans are one of the ways drug rehab is tailored to address your needs. Through the treatment process, your goals and the treatment plan you used to treat will be personalized to your individual needs. Learn more about addiction and mental health treatment plans, goals, and objectives.

What Is a Treatment Plan?

A treatment plan for substance abuse is an outline of what you will seek to achieve in treatment and the steps it will take to get there. You’ll make a treatment plan with your therapist, and your involvement is essential. Addiction is complex, and treatment is highly individualized. Your treatment plan will be the most personalized part of the treatment process. 

You may make your treatment plan on your first day in an addiction or alcoholism treatment program after an intake and assessment process. Your plan will change over time. For instance, in the early stages of rehab, it may get you through a process of medical assessment, stabilization, and detoxification. After that, your plan may change to focus on the deeper issues of addiction like mental health, social issues, and other problems. 

Your treatment plan will include three major components: goals, objectives, and interventions. After you make your treatment plan, you’ll continue to meet with your therapist to reassess it and make changes as needed. This reassessment should happen at least weekly. 

What Are Goals and Objectives?

It’s easy to consider these two words synonyms, but in the context of addiction treatment, they each refer to different things. You’ll find both in a treatment plan for addressing a substance use disorder. When you start to form your treatment plan, you’ll start with a goal. 


Goals are big, overarching objects of your effort in your treatment plan. They’re usually simple and easy to define, but they may be difficult to grasp and vague as to how you will achieve them. It’s easier to understand what a goal is with an example. The most common goal in addiction treatment is to achieve abstinence from drug and alcohol use. That’s one of the most important aims of addiction treatment, but how will you achieve it and what specific steps will you take to get there? If your treatment plan is a journey, the goal is the tall mountain in the distance that you’re headed to. You can see it, but you can’t see all the roads that will take you there. Still, defining a goal is essential in pointing you in the right direction, informing the rest of your treatment plan. 


An objective is more specific, and there are usually multiple objectives that help you work toward a single goal. An objection is clear, specific, so it’s easy to know what it will take to complete it. For instance, an objective may be to complete a biopsychosocial assessment with your therapist. Another example might be to respond to others three times in your next group therapy session. Objectives are the roads that lead you to the mountain. As you attempt or complete goals, you will assess them with your therapist each week. Ideally, each completed objective is a step toward achieving your goal. 


Finally, the third element of a treatment plan is the intervention. An intervention is something that a therapist, counselor, or medical professional does to help a client process or work through their objectives. Interventions may be a key component in helping a client advance in their treatment plan. They provide accountability, challenges, and direction during treatment. 

Addiction recovery programs aim to help you craft goals that are relevant and meaningful to you. To do this, you’ll be encouraged to consider your personal expectations against the expectations of those around you and create a plan on how you can achieve a healthier way of life.

In Addition to Your Personal Goals, There Are a Collection of Substance Abuse Treatment Goals That Are Generally Encouraged during Recovery Programs. These Include:

  • Reduction or elimination of substance abuse
  • Removal of access to illegal and dangerous drugs
  • Understanding of underlying co-occurring mental health issues
  • Development of healthy stress-management techniques
  • Connection with support networks to encourage ongoing sobriety

As you create goals, make them SMART. That is, specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Part of being realistic is accepting slip-ups as part of the recovery process. Have a treatment plan in place as to how you will react to a slip-up, and what steps you can take to stay on track with recovery.

Goals and Objectives of Addiction Treatment

It’s easy to assume that the only goal in a substance abuse treatment plan would be sobriety. Although the goals and objectives for substance abuse programs are straightforward, they are very strategic and require a thorough assessment of the client.

Abstinence is something that can be attained with the right drive, but continued sobriety and avoiding active addiction for a lifetime requires an individual to partake in therapy that alters their behavior. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there are four strategic goals, and four priority areas to focus on. The four goals are:

Goal 1

Identify the biological, environmental, behavioral, and social causes and consequences of drug use and addiction across the life span

Goal 2

Develop new and improved strategies to prevent drug use and its consequences

Goal 3

Develop new and improved treatment to help people with substance use disorders to achieve and maintain a meaningful, sustained recovery

Goal 4

Increase the public health impact of NIDA research and programs

The four priority focus areas are:

  1. Understanding the complex interactions of factors influencing drug use trajectories
  2. Accelerating development of treatments
  3. Addressing real-world complexities
  4. Advancing bidirectional translation

Some of the information provided includes information on how, when, and for how long to intervene for both prevention and treatment, how to maximize the prevention of substance use disorders, how to enhance treatment response and recovery, as well as how to mitigate harms. Having treatment plans for these disorders will better prepare those who help us. Goals of addiction treatment are extensive but necessary for the client’s well-being.

Goals and Objectives for Substance Abuse Programs

In Addition to Your Personal Goals, There Are a Collection of Substance Abuse Treatment Goals That Are Generally Encouraged during Recovery Programs. These Include:

  • Reduction or elimination of substance abuse
  • Removal of access to illegal and dangerous drugs
  • Understanding of underlying co-occurring mental health issues and the root cause of the addiction
  • Development of healthy stress-management techniques
  • Connection with support networks to encourage ongoing sobriety

The substance abuse treatment goals, as well as your personal recovery goals, should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.


The steps and goals should be specific to you personally. This can include steps toward improved health and wellness of the mind and body, how to deal with co-workers, managers, and others at work, making amends with loved ones and friends, and other personal objectives.


The steps and goals should be actionable tasks that are met which have relatable results. Write down how these tasks will be achieved and when.


The steps and goals crafted should be challenging but attainable. Small steps versus large steps make these objectives more easily attainable. The adage “one foot in front of the other” applies here. Take one step at a time, one day at a time, and soon, these goals will be reachable. At the same time, setting higher goals and meeting them will feel terrific. Allow that!


Write down and work through realistic goals. These should be steps that you are willing and able to do.  We’re all human, and therefore, will make mistakes. One such goal is accepting that a slip-up can occur and how you will react to it. Some people see a slip-up as a giant step backward; others see it as a minor error in judgment. Create the steps you need to take to get back on and stay on track with your recovery.


Steps and goals in the substance abuse treatment plan should be able to be met within a realistic timeframe. Daily, weekly, and monthly steps and goals met are accomplishments to be proud of.

The treatment plan for alcohol abuse is the same but can also include additional information such as avoiding the places, people and circumstances where alcohol will be served. Alcohol is offered almost everywhere. There are, however, establishments where it is not so pleasant to go, and there are people in our lives who will always have alcohol on hand and proffer it freely. Hold tight to your treatment plan goals.

Treatment Plan For Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse is a widespread issue that is problematic throughout the country. The effects of alcohol are widely known, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that each year, 88,000 people in the die from alcohol-related causes. The legality and easy access to the substance makes it difficult for many to abstain without a treatment plan for alcohol abuse.

While citing statistics of the sheer volume of death related to alcohol use, there is a silver lining — no matter how severe the problem may be, most people with an alcohol use disorder can benefit from some form of treatment. Research shows that about one-third of those who receive treatment for alcohol problems have no further symptoms one year later. Many others substantially reduce their drinking and report fewer alcohol-related problems.

Several types of treatment are available to help those struggling. We may often think of 12-step programs or 28-day residential treatment, but thanks to the advances in modern medicine, many plans suit all needs of an individual. Treatment must be tailored to an individual’s specific requirements.

Types of Treatment

There are a few types of treatment for alcohol abuse. Behavioral therapies are standard for all addiction treatments, but they can also be applied to alcohol use disorders. The behavioral treatments are geared toward changing behavior through counseling and are led by a mental health professional, and supported by studies indicating their positive outcomes.

There is also medication therapy to help people with alcohol use disorders. Three medications are approved in the United States to help those people reduce their drinking and prevent relapse, which includes disulfiram, naltrexone, and acamprosate.

Disulfiram causes an adverse reaction when alcohol is consumed and will induce vomiting in those who combine the medication with alcohol. Naltrexone reduces alcohol consumption and reduces cravings in the brain, whereas acamprosate works by reducing the physical distress and emotional discomfort individuals experience when they quit drinking. These drugs are prescribed by a primary care physician or other health professionals and may be used alone, or in conjunction with counseling.

Medical support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other 12-step programs provide recovering users with peer support to abstain or cut back on their drinking. When these are combined with treatment led by health professionals, they offer an additional level of support necessary during this fragile time.

Multifaceted Substance Abuse Treatment Goals

Addiction is a complicated form of chronic disease. Even after successful treatment and intervention, the risk of relapse into substance abuse and dependence remains high. Treatment programs are shown to be most effective when the treatment goals are tailored to an individual’s personal characteristics. There is no one-size-fits-all recovery program.

This Means Your Goals Will Take Into Account Factors Like:

  • Personal history with substance abuse and dependence
  • Family history of addiction
  • Support networks
  • Extent of substance dependence
  • Mental well-being

Many people share the same goal of total independence from substance abuse. However, working towards smaller, more attainable goals may be more beneficial during your recovery program. Many addiction recovery programs will encourage you to take the recovery process one day at a time. Creating a treatment plan for substance abuse is an important first step towards acheiving these goals.

The ultimate goal of an addiction recovery program is to support you as you embark on a healthier way of life. No-one controls the indefinite future. You can only control your personal actions in any given moment.

Addiction Recovery Treatment Plans for Substance Abuse Will Aim To:

  • Provide you with ongoing support
  • Create a safe atmosphere where you can talk about issues in your life
  • Remove you from situations that may encourage substance abuse
  • Simultaneously address mental health issues that may have encouraged substance dependence

Treatment Goals for Substance Abuse Create a Path for a Successful Recovery

Addiction is a highly personal disease. It interferes with your physical health, mental well-being and social interactions. Addiction can negatively affect your career, economic stability and relationships. The goals you make at the onset of an addiction recovery program are typically dependent on personal factors like these.

Your goals may include returning to work, repairing damaged relationships or maintaining a more positive attitude, each of which are factors that will encourage a healthier lifestyle free of substance abuse.

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