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Drug Addiction Treatment in Elgin, Illinois

Elgin is a city in the Cook and Kane counties in the northern part of Illinois. With a population of roughly 114,000, Elgin is a vibrant regional center and the eighth-largest city in the state. The downtown part of Elgin has gone through a number of renovations and expansions over recent years, including brand new condo developments, loft spaces, and art galleries. The new life injected into the city has been largely welcomed by the Elgin community, who are mostly characterized by a large and diverse group of grassroots organizations.

If you live in Elgin, and have fallen victim to substance abuse don’t hesitate to seek treatment. There are enormous resources in at your disposal.
Aurora Recovery, The Recover

Despite the community spirit that exists in this part of Illinois, Elgin and neighboring cities continue to experience the same drug and alcohol problems as other parts of the United States. Heroin related deaths and prescription opioids continue to cause problems in Elgin and surrounding communities close to Chicago, with cocaine, alcohol, and marijuana also causing significant issues. If you know anyone in Elgin who is living with a substance use disorder, it’s important to reach out to a professional drug treatment program as soon as you can. 

Demographics and Income in Elgin

Elgin has a population of roughly 114,000, including 51 percent males and 49 percent females. The population density in the city is 2,911.2 people per square mile, with the ethnic diversity consisting of 66 percent White, 7 percent African American, 1.5 percent Native American, 5.5 percent Asian, and 16.3 percent from other races. Elgin is a reasonably affluent area, with an estimated median household income of $61,070 recorded in 2016, which is slightly more than the state average. According to official statistics, about 6.4 percent of families in Elgin and 8.1 percent of the overall population are living below the poverty line, a number that is lower than the state and national average. Despite the strong community values of Elgin and the surrounding area, substance abuse and addiction continues to cause problems. A number of detox and rehab treatment centers are located close to Elgin to service the wider Chicago population. 

Common Drug Problems in Elgin and Illinois

 According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), heroin is the biggest problem in the wider Chicago area, followed by alcohol and cocaine. In the latest statistics from 2014, an increases in heroin-related deaths was observed in the suburban Chicago counties of Kane, DuPage, Lake, Will, and McHenry. Heroin indicators have been increasing in Elgin and the surrounding area for many years, with the rate of heroin abuse correlating to the prescription opioid crisis that is currently sweeping across the United States. According to NIDA, hydrocodone continued to be the most widely abused and easily available prescription opioid in the surrounding Chicago area. Alcoholism also continues to cause problems in Elgin and Chicago, as does cocaine and marijuana abuse. Unlike some other United States communities, methamphetamine and MDMA use in the wider Chicago area is at a low level.

Signs of Drug Abuse

Substance-related disorders affect people from all walks of life. From illegal street drugs such as heroin and cocaine through to alcohol and prescription medications, drug abuse and addiction needs to be tackled through dedicated treatment programs. Many of the signs of drug abuse can be difficult to recognize, however, with people often going to extreme lengths to hide their problems from those around them. It can often take months or even years before people are ready to accept the help they need, with a direct or indirect intervention sometimes required. Common drugs of abuse include the legal substance alcohol, prescription opioids and depressants, and street drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine. While many of the signs of abuse are related to the individual substance in question, there are some general warning signs that are worth watching out for.

  • unexplained mood swings
  • changes to eating and sleeping patterns
  • anxiety and depression
  • social and financial problems
  • extensive drug use
  • developing drug tolerance
  • needing drugs or alcohol to relax
  • using drugs in risky situations
  • experiencing withdrawal symptoms when drugs are discontinued
  • continual use despite negative consequences

Drug Abuse vs Drug Addiction

Before embarking on a drug treatment program, it’s important to understand the differences between drug abuse and drug addiction. Drug abuse has no single definition, with medical, criminal justice, and drug treatment professionals each describing drug abuse in their own way. Generally speaking, drug abuse is recognized when people consume drugs in a way that causes problems to themselves or others. These problems can manifest in many ways, including physical health problems, mental health problems, social problems, financial problems, criminal problems, drug addiction, and drug overdose. Drug abuse can lead to drug addiction over time, with most addictions developing as the direct result of long-term or extensive drug abuse patterns, including drug misuse and drug overuse.

Drug addiction is defined as a brain disorder that is characterized by the compulsive use of rewarding drugs in order to reinforce specific brain changes. While not all cases of drug abuse lead to addiction, most cases of addiction are a result of long-term drug abuse. For something to be classified as addictive, the stimuli involved has to be both rewarding and reinforcing. This is the case for both addictive substances and addictive behaviors, including sex addiction, gambling addiction, food addiction, and exercise addiction among others. When drugs are involved, people take them in order to reward themselves and reinforce specific neural pathways. Addiction typically develops slowly over time as these pathways are developed and reinforced. In order to break the bonds of addiction, medications are often used to treat withdrawal symptoms and psychotherapy is often administered to analyze the precedents of addiction.  

Physical vs Psychological Drug Dependence

Physical Drug Dependence

Physical drug dependence is recognized by the existence of a physical-somatic withdrawal syndrome when drug use is stopped or reduced. Drugs that are known to cause physical dependence include heroin, alcohol, hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, and a range of other opioids and benzodiazepines. Interestingly, all of these substance are classified as central nervous system (CNS) depressants.

Physical drug dependence can cause severe and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, especially for people with an extensive history of drug addiction. Symptoms may include sweating, nausea, vomiting, headaches, body movements, insomnia, cramping, seizures, delirium tremens, and hallucinations. Medications are often administered to support immediate abstinence and withdrawal management, including methadone and buprenorphine.

Psychological Drug Dependence

Psychological drug dependence is recognized by the existence of emotional and motivational withdrawal symptoms when drug use is stopped. Most of the substances known to cause psychological symptoms without corresponding physical symptoms are CNS stimulants, with the exception of marijuana. These include amphetamines, methamphetamine, cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana, and prescription stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin.

Common motivational and emotional symptoms include drug cravings, mood swings, depression, anxiety, and lack of motivation. While most substances that cause physical dependence also cause psychological dependence in one way or another, the opposite is not the case. Medical detox is not always needed to treat these cases, with some patients directed straight to rehab programs.   

Assessment and Intake into Treatment

Successful drug addiction treatment relies on professional assessment and intake procedures. Before starting a treatment program, doctors and clinicians need to identify high-risk cases and put people in appropriate treatment channels. There are lots of things to look at during assessment, including the drug of addiction, the extent of addiction, the history of addiction, co-occuring mental health disorders, secondary substance disorders, behavioral addictions, and external life factors such as homelessness that may impact the treatment provided. Patients may be asked to fill out a self-assessment report, with doctors conducting physical blood tests, general health examinations, and mental health questionnaires. Depending on the extent of addiction and the existence of physical withdrawal symptoms, patients may be directed towards medical detox or admitted straight into a rehab program. 


Detox is the first stage of drug treatment for many people, especially those who are likely to experience a physical-somatic withdrawal syndrome. Detox programs are typically short lasting and designed to promote immediate abstinence and withdrawal management prior to rehabilitation. Depending on the substance of addiction, CNS depressants may be administered to help stabilize patients and reduce the chance of medical complications. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recognize three stages in every comprehensive detox program: evaluation and testing, stabilization through medication, and guiding patients into further therapy. While detox is not always required, it is an important stage of drug addiction treatment and is normally administered when physical dependence has been recognized.

Medical Detox Stages

The first stage of medical detox is known as testing or evaluation. During this phase of treatment, patients are given various medical tests and mental health examinations to see if they’re a good candidate for medication therapy. Blood tests are typically carried out to check for currently circulating substances, with opioids and other CNS depressants in the bloodstream possibly interfering with or endangering the patient during the detox process. Because CNS depressants such as methadone and buprenorphine are often used during detox, patients may need to wait in order to reduce the chance of overdose. 

The second stage of detox involves stabilizing the patient, often through the use of medications and medical support services. While it is possible to stabilize the patient using drug discontinuation alone, rapid detox and similar programs can be dangerous if severe withdrawal symptoms are expected. Medications are typically used to reduce the severity of dangerous physical symptoms and help to manage the withdrawal process prior to rehab. The third stage of medical detox attempts to guide the patient into further treatment. While detox is essential in many cases, it does very little to address the psychological factors that caused addiction in the first place. Rehab is always recommended, with patients hopefully enrolled in an appropriate rehab program when they leave the detox environment.  

Residential Rehab

Rehab treatment is available in several configurations, from informal support meetings through to intensive six-month programs. Also known as inpatient rehab, residential programs provide the most comprehensive level of support. Inpatient programs are often divided into either residential treatment centers (RTC) or partial hospitalization (PHP), the later of which allows patients to return home on the weekends. Both of these options are recommended for people with an extensive history of drug addiction, those with physical dependencies, and anyone who wants to remove themselves from unhealthy home environments.

Common therapy options applied during residential rehab include medication therapy if needed, motivational interviewing, contingency management, cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation and mindfulness and many others. Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are also available for those people who want full-time 9-5 care while living at their usual home address. While residential rehab can be inflexible and expensive compared to other treatment options, it provides the most comprehensive level of medical and emotional support at a time when people really need it. 

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab provides a more flexible and affordable treatment option than full-time residential care. Outpatient programs vary considerably in terms of their program intensity, program length, and treatment options. While some treatment centers have daily meetings that last for hours at a time, others may have weekly therapy programs or informal group support sessions. Common methods of therapy applied during outpatient rehab include family therapy, group counseling, individual counseling, contingency management, and motivational support. Many of these programs are based on conventional 12-step facilitation and other treatment methods that adhere to the disease model of addiction. If you want to find programs that adhere to the alternative free will model of addiction, you may need to seek out specific rehab centers. 

Various Treatment Therapies

Medication Therapy

Also known as pharmacotherapy, medication therapy is often applied during rehab and aftercare to support long-term abstinence and recovery. While medication programs are not always required, they can be incredibly useful for alcoholics, heroin addicts, opioid addicts, and sedative addicts. Opiate replacement therapy, also known as opiate substitution therapy, is the most well-known example of medication therapy. During a typical program, long-term and treatment resistant opioid addicts are given alternative opioid drugs as a form of addiction management and harm reduction. Methadone and buprenorphine are the most widely used substances, with some people taking these medications for months or years before they manage to achieve total sobriety. Opioid medications are also used to treat long-term alcoholics and benzodiazepine addicts, with alternative medications also used according to each case scenario.


Psychotherapy treatments form the basis of rehabilitation in most addiction treatment centers. While medication therapy can be incredibly useful, it needs to be complemented by programs that address the emotional and social causes of addiction. Psychotherapy comes in many different forms, from conventional counseling and 12-step support groups through to innovative new programs that combine motivational, cognitive, and behavioral treatment methods.

Typical treatments include relapse prevention, art therapy, music therapy, family therapy, meditation and mindfulness, motivational enhancement, and cognitive behavioral therapy. While each of these treatment programs attempts to analyze the problem of addiction from its own unique angle, they all strive to change the unhealthy long-term behavior patterns associated with drug use. If patients can learn how to recognize the emotions and thoughts that precede addiction, they can learn how to make healthy new psychological associations.  

Trigger Recognition and Relapse Prevention

Relapse is a common outcome of drug addiction, with almost half of all treatment admissions relapsing at some point according to NIDA. In order to reduce relapse rates and promote long-term recovery, patients need to learn new trigger recognition and coping skills. Common triggers include social proximity, location proximity, mood swings, anger and frustration, anxiety and depression, and negative thought patterns. In order to improve outcome expectancies and encourage long-term behavioral changes, patients need to be taught how to recognize these events as they occur and avoid them wherever possible. Dedicated relapse prevention systems can be applied to help people with this process, with mindfulness skills developed to help them recognize problems and coping strategies developed to help them make different life choices.  

Relapse prevention is often recognized as a series of three separate stages: emotional relapse, mental relapse, and physical relapse. While each of these stages is accompanied by its own warning signs, recovering addicts may be completely unaware of them before it’s too late. Therapists can help people to recognize the warning signs and develop the skills needed to turn their lives around. Common signs of emotional relapse include frustration, anger, anxiety, sadness, isolation, and despair.

These signs will progress to mental relapse unless they are dealt with quickly, with people now starting to romanticize past drug use and fantasize about future drug use. With the patient already engaging with thoughts and plans related to drug use, it’s only a matter of time before a physical relapse event occurs. Therapists are needed throughout this process to help people identify the warning signs so that they can avoid making compulsive and impulsive decisions.  

Continuing Care

Also known as aftercare, continuing care programs are designed to follow residential and outpatient rehab. Continuing care helps to reduce relapse rates by providing people with ongoing support in the weeks, months, and years that follow formal treatment. While most of these programs are based on motivational, behavioral, and cognitive methods, some programs also provide practical support such as education, training, job placement, accommodation, and legal services. Conventional 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) are the most well-known example of continuing care, with other programs including SMART Recovery, family therapy, client centered counseling, group counseling and many others.

Sober Living Houses

Sober living environments (SLEs), also known as sober living homes or houses, are a temporary form of aftercare designed to help people with accommodation and support while they integrate back into everyday life. SLEs normally provide safe and affordable accommodation to recovering addicts, in a restrictive environment based on a strict set of rules. Typical rules at an SLE include no drugs at all times, random drug and alcohol testing, no overnight guests allowed, ongoing participation in therapy programs, and respect given to staff and other guests. If you know anyone in Elgin or elsewhere who is living with a substance use disorder, it’s important to reach out to a professional treatment center as soon as you can.