The Continuum of Care

January 24, 2024

3 mins

Jackie Rosu


The ASAM Criteria are used nationwide because of a collaboration beginning in the 1980s to define a national set of criteria for providing outcome-oriented and results-based care.

The countless options for rehab and substance use recovery can be overwhelming. But when a person is seeking treatment, it's important for them to find the right option for their needs. One method of doing so is through the Continuum of Care. By understanding the ASAM levels of care, a person can better pursue necessary treatment. Read ahead to learn more about the ASAM Criteria and how it helps physicians provide patients with the proper level of treatment. 

What are ASAM Levels of Care?

The ASAM levels of care are a widely used, comprehensive set of standards for best-placing patients with the care they need. The ASAM Criteria are used nationwide because of a collaboration beginning in the 1980s to define a national set of criteria for providing outcome-oriented and results-based care.

ASAM criteria are guided by three main principles. Treatment must consider a patient’s needs, individualize a plan based on those needs, and disregard their recovery success rate.

Never Alone Recovery has outlined the Continuum of Care before, but here’s a quick refresher. There are four main levels of care: Outpatient, Intensive Outpatient, Residential, and Inpatient. Each broad level has its own subdivisions, with their intensity expressed through decimal points. For example, while Outpatient Treatment broadly belongs at level 2, it is split further into levels 2.1 and 2.5. 

In the next section, we’ll go over each level of care in further detail.

Level 1: Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient care is recovery treatment that does not require a hospital stay. Instead, a patient will visit a health facility for treatment. Adults will receive no more than 9 hours of outpatient care per week, while adolescents will receive less than 6 but remain at home. Outpatient treatment can cost less money than more intense inpatient treatment. 

Click here to learn more about Outpatient Programs and how Never Alone Recovery can help you.

Level 2.1: Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOT), like normal outpatient treatment, allows patients to go home between therapy. However, IOT consists of at least 9 hours of treatment per week for adults and at least 6 hours for adolescents. IOT can consist of group, individual, and complementary therapy, psychiatric care, medication management, and education about a patient’s condition. If a patient needs to continue attending to daily obligations such as work or school, IOT can allow them the freedom to do so while receiving treatment.

Follow this link for more information about Never Alone Recovery’s Intensive Outpatient Programs.

Level 2.5: Partial Hospitalization Programs

In a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), a patient will receive 20 hours or more per week of outpatient services. PHPs offer more intense treatment that doesn’t require an overnight stay. Through daily care, PHPs can help some patients avoid full hospitalization, shorten the length of a hospital stay, or serve as a transition from inpatient to outpatient care.

Check out Never Alone Recovery’s guide on Partial Hospitalization Programs to learn more.

Levels 3: Residential Treatment

Residential Treatment can vary widely depending on the desired level of intensity and needed treatment. In general, however, Residential Treatment refers to when a patient receives care in a residential setting. Long-term residential treatment can last up to a year. Patients will receive treatment for mental and physical health, routine, a peer group, and instruction in life skills that can prepare them to lead a healthier life upon graduation. 

Follow this link to learn more about the different services offered by residential treatment programs.

Level 4: Medically Managed Intensive Inpatient

The most intense form of therapy, Medically Managed Intensive Inpatient Treatment, is when a patient receives daily care in a hospital setting. One example of this level of treatment is Detox when a patient is weaned off of a substance they are dependent on by healthcare professionals. This process requires 24-hour care, particularly because withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous.

For patients who need intensive, 24-hour care, Never Alone Recovery can get you in touch with the right Medical Detox Program.

Navigate the Continuum of Care with Never Alone Recovery

Depending on a person’s substance use dependence, a different level of care will be needed. By paying attention to a patient’s unique needs, physicians can place them where they will be best-taken care of.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use, Never Alone Recovery can help get you in touch with needed resources. With a free online support group and even more addiction recovery support, we can place you where your need is greatest at no cost. Call our toll-free number, 844-364-4445, today to see which Never Alone program is right for you.

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