Do I Need Rehab or a Therapist?

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Addiction Treatment How Do I Know if I Need Rehab or a Therapist?

If you are considering going to rehab, you have probably asked yourself whether or not therapy would be sufficient enough to help you beat your addiction. At Guardian Recovery, our recovery programs utilize intense behavioral therapy in combination with medical expertise, recovery tools and holistic healing methods to help individuals overcome addiction. We have found that for most people suffering from drug or alcohol abuse disorders, individual therapy alone, without a comprehensive treatment program, is not enough. Rehab provides much more structure, accountability, peer support, medical supervision and recovery education then an individual therapist can usually provide. However, in some rare cases when an addiction is mild, individual therapy may be suitable. How can you tell if you need rehab or just therapy? This guide will help you determine an answer for yourself.

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When Is Rehab Needed?

Below are 10 signs that you might need to go to rehab, and that individual therapy alone probably won’t be enough. If you still feel unsure as to whether or not inpatient rehab is the best option for you or your loved one, contact Guardian Recovery today.

  1. Prioritizing Substances – Rehab is a good option if you prioritize substance use over everything else you once held in high esteem or thoroughly enjoyed. If you have been having trouble with your interpersonal relationships, have neglected your hobbies or put aside your career or education in lieu of substance use, there is a good chance you are struggling with a diagnosable substance use disorder. There are several other diagnostic criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) that are important to keep an eye out for. If you present more than two of these symptoms within a one year period of time, it is a good indication that you should seriously consider seeking addiction treatment.
  2. Physical Health Decline – If your physical and psychological health has been negatively impacted by your substance use, rehab is a good option. If your physical health is suffering there is a good chance that you need to stop drinking or using drugs as soon as possible. If a medical professional has recommended that you quit or cut back and you haven’t been able to do so, you need to go to rehab in order to allow yourself the opportunity to physically stabilize. If you have been experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, depression, suicidal ideation or psychosis as a result of your substance use, rehab has become essential.
  3. Mental Health Disorders – Rehab might be necessary if you are suffering from a dual diagnosis disorder. If you are experiencing psychological symptoms it is important that you find a dual diagnosis rehab center, one that specializes in treating substance abuse and mental illness simultaneously. Treating co-occurring disorders is a complicated process and requires an intensive level of clinical care.
  4. Overdose – Rehab is definitely necessary if you have ever experienced an overdose. As soon as you experience an overdose it becomes clear that your life is in immediate danger. The majority of people who fail to seek treatment after an initial overdose will overdose again — and many second overdoses prove to be fatal.
  5. Tried To Quit Already – If you have tried to quit on your own (or even cut back on the amount of the substance you consume) with little or no success, you probably need the help of a rehab center. This is another indication that you are suffering from a diagnosable substance use disorder.
  6. Symptoms of Withdrawal – If you experience symptoms of withdrawal when you try to stop drinking or using, you probably need rehab. But first you need to enter into a medical detox program where you can undergo withdrawal in a safe and secure environment under the close care of a team of medical professionals. Drug and alcohol withdrawal can result in health complications like seizures, heart attacks and stroke when it is not closely overseen by professionals.
  7. Unresolved Trauma – Rehab is probably necessary if you have experienced a trauma that you believe might be contributing to your substance use. At Guardian Recovery several of our recovery programs offer trauma-informed care, helping men and women of all ages overcome past trauma while simultaneously working through substance abuse issues.
  8. Personal Loss – Rehab is a good option for people who have lost a significant amount at the hands of addiction, and who could use a little bit of help getting back on their feet. If you lost your job, your home and the support of your loved ones, there is really no reason not to reach out for support and enter into a treatment program. Being in rehab gives you the opportunity to change, which might enable you to slowly gain back things you’ve lost with time and continued sobriety.
  9. Unsafe Living Environment – Anyone struggling with substance abuse who lives in an unsafe environment should consider entering into a rehab program. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you live in an abusive household or that your life is in immediate danger. It could mean that your family members or your roommates are heavy drinkers or drug users themselves, or that whomever you are living with doesn’t support your sobriety.
  10. Can’t Stop for a Day – You need rehab if you simply can’t stop using drugs or drinking for an entire day. Some people can step away from drugs and alcohol for months at a time as they undergo intensive therapy and work through the underlying issues that are contributing to their substance use. Other people have completely lost control of their substance use. Their use becomes compulsive, and no matter how hard they try they cannot step away from their substance of choice for any considerable amount of time. If this sounds like you, rehab has become a necessity.

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When a Therapist Might be Enough

At Guardian Recovery we believe in guiding people in the right direction for their unique situation. We are never going to suggest a level of care that we don’t deem appropriate for your current circumstances. Intensive individual therapy can work for some individuals struggling with mild or moderate substance use issues. This might be the case if:

  • You have no personal history of substance abuse and no family history of substance abuse, but started abusing substances recently as a direct result of your current circumstances.
  • You have no underlying mental health concerns and no unresolved trauma, but you have been drinking or using more than you would like to for a short time period.
  • You have not yet experienced any consequences directly linked to your substance use.
  • You can step away from your substance of choice easily for months at a time.

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Intensive Therapy in a Rehab Setting

At Guardian Recovery we deliver intensive behavioral therapy in most all of our recovery programs, including medical detoxresidential inpatientpartial hospitalization and intensive outpatient. Therapeutic care is a fundamental part of every program we offer because we believe in its power to help people change their attitudes and actions. However, we also believe that many individuals struggling with addiction need the structure, accountability, community and focus of an addiction treatment program (rather than seeking solely individual therapy). To learn more about the role that therapy plays in rehab, or to learn more about whether or not rehab is the right choice for you or your loved one, contact us today.


Do I have an Addiction issue?

Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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