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Addiction Treatment in Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia is the ninth-largest city in the United States. It’s the seat of Fulton County and has a rich history. It’s a transportation hub and home to over 5.7 million people. Given its large population, it’s not surprising that Atlanta has seen its fair share of drug and alcohol abuse. 

About Atlanta, GA

Atlanta is home to a diverse population. As of the 2010 census, the population was 54% black or African American, 38.4% white, 3.1% Asian, and 5.2% Hispanic or Latino. The median income of Atlanta is $53,843, which is close to Georgia’s median income of $54,559. The poverty rate of Atlanta is 26.7%, which is higher than the state’s average of 20.8%. Atlanta has over 200 distinct neighborhoods, including the three high-rise districts of Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead, the Old Fourth Ward on the east side of the city, and West End, Collier Heights, and Cascade Heights in the southwest. 

Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Atlanta

Atlanta drug and alcohol abuse problems are as diverse as the city itself. Nearly half of all those being treated for addiction were treated for alcohol abuse. Marijuana accounted for 16.3% of those being treated for addiction. The next highest drug used by those seeking treatment was cocaine, at 10.5%, then methamphetamines, at 6.4%, heroin, at 4.3% and oxycodone, at 3%.

These statistics are also reflected in a National Survey on Drug Use and Health. In the Atlanta region, 19% of those surveyed had binged on alcohol within the past month. Another 8% has used marijuana and4% had used other illegal drugs. In the past year, 4% of those surveyed had used prescription pain relievers for nonmedical reasons and 2% had used cocaine.

In Fulton County, 359 people died of drug overdoses in 2016. Atlanta is considered by law enforcement to be a primary distribution center for cocaine. It’s also increasing in heroin distribution, and meth use is quite high as well.

Statewide, there were over 1,300 deaths from drug overdose in 2015. Many of those deaths (68%) were due to opioid overdose, including heroin.

Beginning Treatment

Getting help for drug or alcohol addiction can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. There are numerous treatment options available, and most begin with the same first steps.

Pre-Intake and Intake

Pre-intake is the first step of entering drug or alcohol addiction treatment. This is your initial contact with a treatment program. They will ask you some questions, including your name, age, and about why you’re seeking treatment. After you’ve talked with them, they’ll set up an appointment for you to come to the treatment center for intake.

Intake is a bit more in-depth. The treatment center will have forms for you to fill out. You will meet with various members of your treatment team. Your treatment team may include a doctor or nurse, a mental health professional, a social worker, or a substance abuse counselor. As you meet with members of your treatment team, they will assess you in order to determine the best course of treatment.

During intake, you will also make your financial arrangements. Your treatment center will contact your insurance company and help you find the best arrangements for your situation.

If you’re entering a residential treatment center, you’ll also learn about the rules and expectations of the facility you’re entering. Some treatment centers restrict visitors or phone calls in the beginning, for example, and they may have items you can and can’t bring into the treatment facility.

If you or your loved ones have any concerns about your treatment, intake is a great time to ask them. You may want to ask questions about their approaches to therapy, whether you’ll need to go through detox or anything else that’s on your mind. 


Assessment is the process of your treatment team members getting to know you. It primarily takes place during intake, although your treatment team members will continue to assess you from time to time during your treatment to ensure you’re making progress.

During intake, you’ll be assessed by a doctor or other medical professional. They’ll ask questions about your health history as well any current health issues or concerns you have. If you have any underlying health issues, you’ll need to be treated for those along with your addiction treatment in order to ensure you make a full recovery. They may also take urine and blood samples.

You’ll also be assessed by a mental health professional, such as a social worker or substance abuse counselor. You may fill out standardized questionnaires as well as do an interview or initial counseling session. You can expect to answer questions about your personal life, how you view yourself and your addiction, and any difficult or traumatic experiences you may have gone through. When you answer these questions, it helps give your team insight into how best to approach your treatment. 


Once you’ve completed intake, you will either begin treatment or you will enter detox. Detox is the process of eliminating any drugs or alcohol currently in your system. Detoxing from drugs or alcohol can cause withdrawal, and withdrawal can be very severe. In some cases, withdrawal can even be life-threatening. If your addiction is long-term or severe, it’s important to go through a medically supervised withdrawal at a hospital or other inpatient treatment center.

Withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the substance being abused, how long the substance was used, and how much of the substance was being taken. They may include anxiety, depression, agitation, trembling, or seizures. Your treatment team may use medications to help alleviate your symptoms. Common prescriptions used during withdrawal include methadone, which helps curb cravings in opiate addicts, and benzodiazepine, which helps curb alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Although detox is difficult, it only lasts for a short period of time. Most detox stays are for a few days, although in some cases detox may last for up to one week. Once you’ve completed detox, you’ll enter your treatment program. 

Inpatient Treatment

If you want to focus exclusively on your recovery without any real-life distractions, then you may want to enter an inpatient treatment center. In inpatient treatment, you live at the treatment center full-time. Your meals and living arrangements are included, so you can focus exclusively on your treatment and recovery.

Residential Treatment Centers

At a residential treatment center, you live at the facility where you’re receiving treatment. This provides you with an intensive treatment program without the challenges of dealing with the outside world. Residential treatment centers provide your meals and a full schedule of therapy, including individual and group therapy.

Living arrangements vary depending on the facility. You may live alone or you may have one or more roommates. The rules of each facility also vary. You may be able to receive visitors, or they may be restricted, especially early in your recovery.

Residential treatment centers may offer additional therapeutic options, including art and music therapy or equine therapy. There may be amenities such as spa services or golf. Different centers also have different focuses. Some may cater to executives, while others focus on treating women or LGBTQ individuals.

The benefit of a residential treatment center is that it allows you to take a break from the distractions and temptations of your daily life. Your intense therapy gives you the opportunity to develop tools to cope with life once you re-enter the “real world.” 

Partial Hospitalization Programs

Partial hospitalization programs provide the structure and intensity of inpatient treatment without you having to stay at the treatment center. If you have a safe, secure place to live or have family obligations you need to meet during treatment, then a partial hospitalization may be a good fit for you.

In a partial hospitalization program, you spend three to five days per week or more at the treatment center. Programming is typically for six to eight hours each day and consists of individual and group therapy and classes. There may be other therapeutic options as well, such as art therapy, depending on the treatment program.

Outpatient Program Treatment Centers

Outpatient program treatment centers provide you with flexibility. You can attend work or school or take care of family while getting the help and treatment you need. You attend the treatment program during the day or evening, but continue to live at home.

Intensive Outpatient Programs

Intensive outpatient programs provide you with treatment on a more flexible schedule. You attend programming for 10-12 hours per week or more. Programming may be during the day or in the evening to accommodate your work or school schedule. You’ll attend individual and group therapy as well as educational classes. As time goes on and you gain confidence in your recovery, you’ll attend treatment less. 


Once you complete your treatment program, you’ll need a plan for returning to your day-to-day life. This plan is called aftercare. Aftercare needs to account for all your needs, including your need for safety, for purpose, and for community. If you need assistance with making living arrangements, your treatment center may be able to assist you in finding housing. If you’re not working, you may want to return to school or find other employment assistance. You’ll need to find ongoing support so you can share your struggles and your insights as you rebuild your life. 

Sober Living

Sober living homes provide a safe home environment for you while you recover from addiction. Whether you’re leaving an inpatient program or participating in an outpatient treatment program, sober living homes can provide you with support, structure, and community.

Sober living homes have rules. You may have a curfew, and you will be expected to contribute to your household by doing chores. You may also be required to pay rent and contribute to other household expenses. You’ll be living with others recovering from addiction, so you’ll have support as you navigate the challenges of your new, clean life. 

Support Groups

Many recovering addicts attend support groups. The best-known support groups are 12-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous. These groups provide accountability and support as you rebuild your life.

In a 12-step program, you attend meetings with other recovering addicts. You work through the steps of the program, which include making amends to those you’ve harmed and turning your life over to a higher power. As you begin a 12-step program, you may want to find a sponsor, which is a more experienced member who can assist you as you work through the steps.

In 12-step groups, there are no leaders. This is a bit different from therapy groups, which can also be beneficial. In group therapy, there is a leader, who may be a substance abuse counselor, social worker, or other mental health professional. Continuing group therapy can also be beneficial. There may be groups available through your treatment center, or you can find groups through local churches and non-profit organizations.

Regardless of the type of support group you attend, it’s important to have support. Groups have the advantage of allowing you to share your experiences, as well as contribute to the recovery of others. It can help immensely to hear from others who have gone through the same things you’re going through.

Individual Counseling

One-on-one counseling can provide focused support for you and your needs. It gives you a safe space for expressing your thoughts, feelings, and struggles. You may be able to continue working with a counselor from your treatment program, or you may need to find a new counselor.

As you look for a counselor, you’ll want to meet with a few to find one that’s a good fit for you and your needs. When you initially meet, you’ll have the chance to ask questions regarding their background and their approach to treatment. Once you find someone who seems like a good fit, you’ll want to meet once per week or more.

During your counseling sessions, you’ll discuss your past and your present. You’ll discuss your challenges and find ways to overcome those challenges. Sharing your experiences, and having someone listen to your experiences and help you through them, can help you stay clean and sober.