What Are Your Substance Abuse Treatment Goals?

what are your substance abuse treatment goals

What Are Your Substance Abuse Treatment Goals?

Recovering from addiction is much like taking a road trip. After all, both are journeys that require guidance of some kind. With traveling, it’s much easier to reach your destination when you have a roadmap of where you’re trying to go. Without a map, people begin to wander aimlessly, never reaching their final destination. Substance abuse treatment goals are like roadmaps. They highlight where you’re heading in your recovery, guiding you along the way.

While goals are necessary to accomplish anything in life, they are especially important for people who are trying to recover from drug and alcohol addiction. When you first start addiction treatment, you should work with drug and alcohol treatment professionals to set realistic and relevant goals. It is also important to set goals that will allow you and your support network to assess your progress. While specific goals will vary from person to person, everyone who is in recovery from addiction will share one general goal – to completely abstain from drug and alcohol use in the future.




To help you set and reach realistic and measurable substance abuse treatment goals, the team at HARP has created a guide to explain the benefits of goals, what types of goals to set, and how goals are used in substance abuse treatment to help individuals achieve long-term sobriety and treatment success. This information will empower you to set effective substance abuse treatment goals and find lifelong sobriety.

Substance Abuse Treatment Goals

Some people might not think that goal setting is a good use of time. They might consider it to be a fun thought exercise, but nothing more than that. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, a wealth of evidence shows that goal setting is very effective in helping individuals find more success in a wide variety of short-term and long-term endeavors, including recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

So, what makes goal setting so beneficial? How does simply setting a goal help someone accomplish it? There are several important factors that come into play.

Accountability: The act of setting a goal involves setting an intention and taking responsibility for achieving a task. As a result, people feel accountable for their success.

Achievability: Without goals, people have vague wishes, rather than clear and achievable intentions. When a person’s ambitions are clear, they can reach their goals faster.

Actionable: When someone formally states their goal, the goal and steps necessary to achieve it become clearer, which allows them to develop a plan and take action.

Motivational: Humans are hardwired to seek out success and avoid failure. Having a goal can motivate someone to move towards a successful outcome.

Motivation is an especially powerful component of goal setting. People need motivation to achieve anything. There are two types of motivation. The first is extrinsic motivation, which refers to motivation that comes from outside or social pressures. The second is intrinsic motivation and it refers to motivation that comes from an internal source, primarily the belief that achieving a goal will be beneficial.

If someone wants to enter substance abuse treatment because their friends and family want them to get help for addiction, this is extrinsic motivation. In contrast, if the person enters treatment because they believe that overcoming addiction will improve their health and life, this is intrinsic motivation. For many people, setting the goal to recover from addiction comes from both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.

A person’s motivation to accomplish a goal tends to be influenced by their self-efficacy, or their belief in their ability to achieve something. Self-efficacy is complex and influenced by a number of different factors. Successful experiences, positive role models, and encouragement can all help bolster a person’s self-efficacy, which can also increase a person’s motivation to take action to set and achieve their goals.

Motivation is important. In fact, if someone lacks the motivation to attend an alcohol and drug treatment program and truly work towards long-term sobriety, treatment is unlikely to be successful. While drug and alcohol abuse can be life-threatening and treatment can be life-changing, people who are unmotivated to seek change might not be ready for an alcohol and drug rehab program yet. Treatment programs are very successful when someone wants to change.

Setting SMART Goals

In the world of substance abuse treatment goals, some goals are more effective than others. It’s true that setting any goal is better than setting no goal at all, but goals that follow SMART criteria tend to help people achieve greater success with any goal, including recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. SMART is a mnemonic device that is designed to help people remember the qualities that all effective goals must have.

Specific: Goals should be specific. Unclear goals are difficult to achieve, because it’s challenging to make an action plan and judge a person’s progress. When a goal is specific, it’s generally easier and faster to achieve it.

Measurable: Goals need to be measurable. It’s impossible to assess progress if the goal can’t be measured. An example of a measurable goal is losing five pounds in a month, while an example of an immeasurable goal is losing weight.

Attainable: Goals should be attainable. While the goal shouldn’t be too easy to accomplish, it also shouldn’t be overly frustrating or impossible. Before setting a goal, the person should think about how it can be attained.

Relevant: Goals need to be relevant. There’s no point in setting a goal if the person doesn’t care about it. When a person sets a goal that they want or need to achieve, they are more motivated to find success.

Timely: Goals should be timely. Most people are prone to procrastination, so it’s important to set goals that have a deadline. If someone doesn’t have a timeline for their goal, they can put off accomplishing it indefinitely.

By setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely, people are more likely to find success with substance abuse treatment. Additionally, when someone is successful in reaching one goal, it boosts their self-efficacy, increasing their motivation to set and achieve more productive goals in the future. When it comes to substance abuse treatment goals, success builds upon success.

Substance Abuse Treatment Goals Influence Recovery

According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse, each person should have unique and individualized substance abuse treatment goals. At HARP, we strongly agree with this philosophy. In fact, establishing individualized treatment goals and objectives is an important part of the HARP methodology.

During the first phase of our drug and alcohol treatment center program, each client meets with their primary therapist for an in-depth physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual assessment. The goal is to not only accurately diagnose the client’s problem, but to also better understand each client as an individual, including their needs and background. It is also an opportunity for the client and the therapist to build trust and rapport.

After laying this critical foundation for the treatment process, our drug and alcohol treatment professionals begin to build a treatment plan. During this phase, our team begins to identify core issues and determine the best way to address them. As part of this process, our professionals work with each client to develop the substance abuse treatment goals that will influence the treatment process. As each client thinks about their goals, they will have the tools and support from therapists to develop SMART goals and overcome problems in a healthy and constructive manner. Clearly, goal setting is a key part of the recovery process.

Once the client and their therapist have developed measurable and attainable goals, the team can create an individualized treatment plan that consists of short-term goals to help assess the client’s progress toward achieving their ultimate goal of long-term sobriety. Although each individual is unique, treatment plans often consist of a combination of the following elements.

Individual or Group Counseling: As the names suggests, individual counseling takes place one-on-one with a therapist, while group counseling involves one therapist and multiple people who are in recovery. Both forms of counseling have advantages and it is often valuable to use both of them in substance abuse treatment.

Family Counseling: Drug and alcohol abuse impacts the family, so it is often helpful to include them in the treatment process. A therapist will lead sessions with the client and their family to discuss the family’s role in the client’s addiction and how they can support their family member going forward.

Sober Companionships: Support is a critical component of substance abuse recovery. While support can come from many sources, including friends, family members, and treatment professionals, it can be helpful to find support from people who once struggled with addiction themselves. They understand how crippling addiction can be and they can offer advice and support to help the client overcome substance abuse.

Nutritional Counseling: Addiction tends to leave people with serious nutritional deficiencies. To help clients regain their health and strength, counselors can provide advice and information about healthy eating habits. HARP strives to help all clients improve both their physical and mental health.

Implementation, the next stage in the recovery process, tends to be the most rewarding. During this phase, clients begin to see the progress that they’re making toward their substance abuse treatment goals. Clients feel motivated by their progress and they feel encouraged to continue taking steps towards long-term sobriety. At this time, clients also gain valuable knowledge and insight about themselves. It’s truly a time of self-discovery, and it is very fulfilling for clients.

The last phase of the HARP treatment methodology isn’t actually the end. Instead, it is part of a cycle. During treatment, our clinical staff meets regularly to review each patient’s goals and their progress with their individualized treatment plan. At these meetings, the client’s primary therapist collaborates with other team members to discuss the client’s progress. Together, they work to identify issues that still need to be addressed and determine if the treatment plan needs to be modified to help the client achieved the goals that they set during phase two.

If the client is making progress towards their short-term and long-term goals, the team will recommend that the client continues with their current treatment plan. However, if the client is struggling, the team will suggest a modified plan that is designed to address the client’s struggles and weaknesses. Our team of treatment professionals is committed to helping clients reach their substance abuse treatment goals, which sometimes requires altering a client’s treatment plan to address different, and sometimes changing, areas of need.




While it might seem overwhelming to begin a substance abuse treatment program, goal setting can make the process much more manageable and successful. By setting substance abuse treatment goals that are specific, manageable, attainable, relevant, and timely (SMART), people who are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol can break free from the chains of addiction and live happy and healthy lives.

Setting goals can sometimes be challenging without the right tools and support. However, the compassionate and experienced drug and alcohol treatment professionals at HARP are experts in helping clients set and achieve their treatment goals. If you or someone you love is ready to get help recovering from an addiction, the experts at HARP can help.

HARP specializes in treating alcohol and drug addiction. The HARP team consists of caring medical professionals and addiction treatment specialists that that provide counseling and support services, detox, and long-term resources. With help and support, recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is possible. Our drug rehab center can help you live a life free from alcohol and drug addiction.

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