Are Treatment and Recovery the Same?

For those who haven’t battled a substance abuse problem or other addiction, just getting the hang of the vernacular surrounding addiction and the healing process can be a difficult undertaking at first. Even the basics aren’t always clear. Take the terms treatment and recovery for instance. If you’re in treatment, aren’t you going through recovery? What’s the difference?

Therapy group in a circle

The Treatment Process

Treatment and recovery are certainly related concepts. Treatment is a more formal period, often taking place in a residential or live-in setting for those fighting an addiction or related issue. It may start with a period of detox (or detoxification) in which the body must rid itself of the substance of abuse. The detox process seeks to undo the effects of tolerance—needing more and more of a drug to feel its effects—and dependence—needing the drug in your system to function normally.1 Detox is best undertaken in a medically-supervised facility where you may be offered interventions to help with uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Once detox is complete, other phases of treatment often involve talk therapies like group and one-on-one counseling as well as activity-based therapies like forms of exercise, equine therapy and different forms of arts and crafts. In counseling sessions, therapists use different techniques — such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) — to help you examine underlying issues that led to addiction. They will also address related aspects of health like nutrition, exercise and self-image.

Ongoing Recovery

Once those who enter treatment complete the program, whether it’s outpatient or residential, short-term or long-term, they move on in their recovery journey. Some move to a transitional house—a residential facility with more freedom than a therapy center but strict boundaries and expectations regarding substance abuse and recovery. This serves as a stepping stone back into daily routines. Others return home and begin the task of finding a new normal, a way of living that does not include substance abuse. These transitional steps are part of recovery.

No matter where you go after treatment, group or one-on-one meetings are recommended to help those in recovery stay on track. Many find solace and solidarity in 12-Step meetings that are commonly offered through community centers or other local programs. These provide ongoing support and accountability as well as a resource for the unique issues that can arise post-treatment.Most discover that recovery is a life-long journey and learn to enjoy the process alongside other like-minded people.

Beginning Your Recovery Journey

Seeing a loved one fight addiction can be overwhelming in many ways. By understanding the process of healing, you can help them feel supported and loved as they seek a healthier, balanced life. If you or your loved one is needing to begin a recovery journey, please call our 24-hour, toll-free helpline today. Our caring admissions coordinators can help you understand all that will take place and walk you through each step so that you do not feel alone. Please call now.


1 NIDA Blog Team, “Tolerance, Dependence, Addiction: What’s the Difference?” National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens, January 12, 2017.

Articles posted here are primarily educational and may not directly reflect the offerings at The Oaks. For more specific information on programs at The Oaks, contact us today.