Substance Use Disorder Treatment Programs at Johns Hopkins Hospital




Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU)

Director: Sarah R. Andrews, M.D.

The Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU) is a six-bed inpatient service. The ITU’s mission is to assist our patients in engaging in effective substance use disorder treatment while identifying and beginning treatment for any co-occurring psychiatric disorders. The unit is designed for rapid (2-4 day) treatment during which patients undergo medically supervised withdrawal from drugs and alcohol, along with medical stabilization. As both psychiatric illnesses and substance use disorders are chronic conditions with a high liability to relapse, treatment on the ITU is conducted with the clear goal of engaging our patients in effective treatment after discharge.

Admission to the ITU

Criteria: The ITU admits persons with substance abuse disorders, including, but not limited to, alcohol, opioids, benzodiazepines, and cocaine. Patients must not be suffering acute medical problems and should not have used drugs in the last 8-12 hours. Patients who are intoxicated will not be accepted for admission. No drugs or drug paraphernalia are permitted on the unit. Patients must also be willing and able to be active participants in their treatment and recovery. Patients are expected to attend all groups during the day.

During the Admission

ITU Staff: The Intensive Treatment Unit is staffed by an attending psychiatrist, a nurse practitioner, nurses, security personnel, and a social worker.

Medical and Psychiatric Evaluation: Patients have complete physical and psychiatric evaluations on admission and are re-evaluated throughout their stay. Patients are seen daily by an attending psychiatrist to medically manage withdrawal symptoms and to assess and begin appropriate treatment for psychiatric conditions if necessary.

Addiction Treatment: Patients on the ITU attend addiction treatment groups throughout the course of the day, watch educational videos, attend 12-step meetings in the hospital and are given written self-assessment assignments to complete in which they review the impact of addiction on their lives and start planning the next steps in their recovery from addiction. Research has shown that individuals who only complete detoxification from drugs or alcohol will start using drugs again about as often as those who leave a program before their detoxification is complete. All patients are expected to participate to the best of their ability in finding an appropriate program to enter after their ITU admission. The ITU staff provides patients with information and recommendations on inpatient, outpatient and residential substance abuse treatment facilities. Our social worker and nurses will assist patients to make contact with appropriate facilities.


For further information regarding the inpatient admissions, go to Adult Psychiatry Admissions at The Johns Hopkins Hospital

Motivated Behaviors Unit

Director: Sarah Andrews, M.D.


Located on the third floor of the Meyer building, the Motivated Behaviors Unit (MBU) is an eight-bed unit that specializes in the treatment of patients with both substance abuse and other psychiatric disorders. The program provides alcohol/drug detoxification and substance abuse treatment concurrent with individualized psychiatric care.The MBU also accepts patients with behavior disorders in other categories such as paraphilias.

Treatment Team

This service is directed by full-time attending psychiatrist working with a multidisciplinary team of psychiatric residents, a social worker, an occupational therapist, a substance abuse counselor, and nurses. Treatment is focused on acute detoxification and stabilization of psychiatric symptoms in substance abusing patients to prepare them for longer term rehabilitation treatment. Usual length of stay is 5-10 days. Patients are expected to be motivated and willing to attend group therapy since this is an integral part of substance abuse treatment.

Treatment Schedule

The treatment schedule consists of daily morning rounds with a multidisciplinary team to discuss treatment goals, and eight hours of group therapy per day. The attending psychiatrist and resident psychiatrist direct medical detoxification as well as acute stabilization of psychiatric conditions with medications. Medical consultation is available for patients who have medical conditions as a result of, or co-existing with, their substance abuse.

Group therapy is conducted by members of the nursing, social work, and occupational therapy staffs and consists of dual-diagnosis education, relaxation training, development of coping skills, and relapse prevention. Patients are also expected to attend 12-step meetings several times a week, which are located on hospital grounds. In addition to group therapy, patients are given written assignments to help them learn more about drug addiction and the recovery process.

A substance abuse counselor and social worker are available to assist with discharge planning. Patients are encouraged to pursue long term substance abuse rehabilitation after discharge. On admission, patients are given a resource list of residential and outpatient substance abuse programs and are expected to actively participate in the planning of their own aftercare.


For further information regarding the inpatient admissions, go to Adult Psychiatry Admissions at The Johns Hopkins Hospital