Waukegan's Top Addiction Resource & Information Guide

Waukegan, Illinois, has been affected by the opioid epidemic. When seeking addiction rehab treatment, a lot of questions will pop up. Learn what to expect out of rehab to help your decision-making process go smoother.

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Waukegan, Illinois, is the county seat of Lake County. It’s about a half-hour north of Chicago and along the shore of Lake Michigan.

Lake County, like many other counties of Illinois, has been affected by drug-associated deaths. The Lake County Coroner’s Office revealed that in 2019 there were 94 fatal overdoses. Twenty were in Waukegan (the highest number for the county). Out of the 94 deaths reported:

  • 22 expired from alcohol
  • 59 deaths involved fentanyl
  • The majority involved multiple substances (polydrug use)
  • 70 males died, and 24 females
  • Ages 30-39 were hardest hit (26 deaths), followed by the 40-49 (27 deaths) and 20-29 (19 deaths) age brackets

Student Substance Abuse in Waukegan, Illinois

There are many colleges and universities around Waukegan, Illinois, ranging from community colleges to four-year universities.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign did a 2018 survey on alcohol and drug use. Some of the findings for Illinois include that 46.5% of students binged alcohol (five or more drinks on one occasion, for men; or four or more, for women) in the past two weeks.

Other alcohol-linked findings include:

  • 14.1% got into an argument
  • 2.7% got into a physical fight
  • 9.7% attended class under the influence
  • 6.4% injured themselves
  • 5.3% considered suicide
  • 1.1% attempted suicide
  • 4.5% had sex even though they didn’t want to
  • 5.5% had unprotected sex
  • 2.4% drove under the influence

Other survey findings include that more than one in five (21.5%) of Illinois students said they’ve used marijuana in the past month. Also, prescription drug use has increased, with it becoming the third most used and abused type of substance on campus.

Substance use remains problematic for college students. It can be risky at any time, but younger users face more dangers. Their brains are still developing, so drugs and alcohol affect the regions that govern impulse control, rewards, and decision-making. At a younger age, a student is in greater danger of becoming addicted. That can lead to a lifetime of problems.

Students who misuse drugs or alcohol also risk accidents and assaults. Alcohol has been involved in approximately half of the sexual assaults on college campuses (both victim and perpetrator), in part because it’s linked to aggression and loss of inhibition. Perpetrators (when turned in, and if charges are filed) face legal problems and potential jail time, while victims experience trauma, which can amount to years of (and even a lifetime) of pain.


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What to Look for When Choosing a Rehab in Waukegan, Illinois

If you are looking for a rehab in or near Waukegan, Illinois, there are several features you can consider as you search. Examining these details can help you determine if it’s a good rehab center, and it can also help your decision-making process. If you don’t like what you see in Waukegan, check out treatment centers in other, nearby places, such as rehabs in Joliet, Illinois.


Whether an addiction rehab is accredited is an important detail, even though it could be one that’s easy to overlook. Accreditation is a sign that a healthcare facility is legitimate and compliant with community, state, and national standards. Accredited rehabs are more likely o have the latest training and treatment methods, and they are more in line with insurance providers, too.

The Joint Commission and LegitScript are two third-party accrediting bodies to look for. They inspect facilities to make sure they’re providing quality care.


Waukegan has just over 86,000 people, according to 2019 U.S. Census data. It’s more diverse than many cities, with the population being:

  • Hispanic or Latino – 55.6%
  • White – 51%
  • Black – 17.4%
  • Asian – 5.2%

Nearly one-third (30.5%) of Waukegan’s residents are foreign-born, and 54.5% of households speak a language other than English.

Demographic data—including a person’s race, ethnicity, age, and gender—is important information because it can help identify a patient’s unique needs when it comes to treatment. It provides a better understanding of a patient’s culture and lets the staff communicate better with the patient, cutting through language barriers and showing a deeper understanding of attitudes about mental health. In some cases involving the family more in the treatment process can prove helpful. That and more can result in improved services and improved care.

Patient-to-Staff Ratio

A low patient-to-staff ratio—four (or fewer) patients for every staffer—usually translates into quicker care when needed. It also means staffers have more time to devote to each patient. That can lead to a better understanding of a patient’s needs, what may have led to their substance abuse, and better treatment.

What to Expect During Inpatient Drug Rehab in Waukegan, Illinois

When looking for addiction treatment in Waukegan, Illinois, you can expect three stages of care: assessment, treatment, and aftercare.

  • Assessment. This phase of rehab includes getting your background, especially pertaining to substance abuse. Addiction specialists will ask you about your substance use history. You’ll also be examined and have lab tests done so the medical staff can make a thorough diagnosis and devise a treatment plan.
  • Treatment. This phase often occurs in two parts. First, the patient will undergo detoxification, if needed. Many substances can be very uncomfortable to wean off of, so medications may be administered to make sure things happen in safety and comfort. After withdrawal comes time for treatment. This is a mix of counseling, therapy, and other activities to better understand the underlying causes of substance use as well as develop ways to remain drug- or alcohol-free.
  • Aftercare. Patients are taught ways to avoid triggers and relapse and are given contacts (support groups, counselors) to help keep them sober after rehab.

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Aftercare Planning Procedures

Here, patients are prepared for life after rehab.

In rehab, they’ll have learned ways to cope drug- or alcohol-free, how to avoid triggers, and where they can go if they need a bit of encouragement to remain on track.

This can include contacts for therapists and support groups, continuing with some kind of health plan (like regular exercise), outpatient treatment, and relapse prevention materials.

Services Included in Treatment

Many questions may arise in searching for a rehab center. The services a place offers can make decision-making easier. Some can make a stay in rehab more enjoyable (because even if you can go to a luxurious facility, parts of rehab aren’t likely to be pleasant or pretty, especially when working through withdrawals and cravings). Some things to consider include:

  • Meals
  • Lodging
  • On-site physicians
  • Recreational opportunities
  • A fitness center
  • Emergency care
  • Support groups
  • Aftercare planning

These are just a few of the potential services offered at rehabs. Some will have services and activities connected to their location, like surfing if you’re at an oceanside rehab.

Treatment Options at Rehab Centers in Waukegan, Illinois

There are a wealth of treatment options if you’re seeking care in or around—such as in Hoffman Estates rehab center—in Waukegan, Illinois. A person might consider 12-steps, dual diagnosis treatment, holistic therapies, and more as they search for rehabs. A standard course of treatment can prove very helpful, but if a person is more religious, they might fare better with faith-based care, or if a person is an immigrant, culturally competent care might make more of a difference in positive outcomes.

Types of Treatment Available

Inpatient care includes assessment, treatment, and aftercare, but there are a number of treatment approaches that can make the process better suited to your needs. The type of available treatments may include any of the following.

12-Step Rehab in Waukegan, Illinois

Twelve-step groups first originated with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which offers a spiritual path for those in recovery. Peers gather to work the 12 steps, which are a kind of road map toward sobriety. Members admit they are powerless to their addiction and work on total honesty, acknowledging a higher power, developing humility, and practicing forgiveness. AA is the first and oldest 12-step, but it’s branched off into other groups that focus on specific addictions, like Cocaine Anonymous.

Non-12-Step Rehab in Waukegan, Illinois

Non-12-Step groups also provide peer support, serving as alternatives to traditional 12-steps. They tend to avoid admitting powerlessness over the addiction and instead focus on strength, motivation, and self-control. Non-12-steps are usually more secular and rely more on scientific or evidence-based treatment principles. Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) Recovery and LifeRing Secular Recovery are two examples of non-12-steps.

Luxury Rehab in Waukegan, Illinois

A luxury rehab center offers patients the essentials of addiction treatment but in a high-end setting with top-of-the-line amenities.

They may cater to executives (VIP or CEO rehabs), so they can continue to work through treatment, usually by offering private workspaces, high-speed internet, and other equipment to stay connected to their office. That can offer added privacy and added protection to their reputations as they recover.

Luxury rehabs also offer many comforts like gourmet meals, yoga, spa treatments, recreation opportunities, swimming pools, and hot tubs. Such treatment centers also can offer more individualized care and privacy.

Inpatient Drug Rehab in Waukegan, Illinois

During inpatient rehab, a person will live at the facility for 30, 60, 90, or more days. A patient may live alone in a room or have a roommate, depending on the rehab they choose.

Patients are supervised, and their days are structured. They’ll have time for meals and socialization, but much of the day will involve various psychotherapies and counseling, support group meetings, and sometimes classes that work on life skills development. Family might come in for counseling sessions, too, to work through issues that may have led to substance use.

Inpatient gives the patient time to more fully immerse themselves into rehab and recover with fewer outside distractions.

Holistic Rehab in Waukegan, Illinois

Holistic rehab is sometimes seen more as an alternative therapy, but it’s gaining traction among mainstream medicine, particularly because the science shows it can provide some real health-boosting benefits. Holistic rehab is a common form of therapy—and should be offered at nearby, like rehabilitation centers in Rockford, IL, facilities.

Holistic medicine aims to heal the body, mind, and spirit. That is accomplished through stress-reducing and health-improving activities. Some common holistic therapies include:

  • Yoga. Stretching and poses help reduce stress, pain, and anxiety.
  • Meditation, or mindfulness, keeps a person in the present and helps with impulse control.
  • Massage therapy. Boosts mood, improves relaxation and helps with sleep.

All of the above benefits can help with addiction recovery.

IOP Program in Waukegan, Illinois

IOP programs, or intensive outpatient programs, have the patient visit the rehab or clinic several times a week (two to five days, normally, often from six to eight hours at a time) for a few months. It’s also referred to as partial hospitalization, and during IOP, the patient will receive counseling, education, and clinically intensive programming.

Many patients reside in sober living housing while they are part of an IOP program, so they remain in an environment that provides structure and support to prevent relapse.

Dual Diagnosis Rehab in Waukegan, Illinois

Dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorders, is when a person has both a substance use disorder and a mental illness. Either disorder can develop first. In some cases, a person may take drugs or drink alcohol to self-medicate their mental illness. A person could also develop a mental illness as a result of substance use.

An estimated 9.5 million U.S. adults had co-occurring disorders in 2019.

Fortunately, a dual diagnosis can be treated. It’s most effective when the patient receives care for both conditions. The first objective will be to detox the patient and get them medically stable. Once they’ve gone through the worst of withdrawal, treatment begins in earnest. That can be done with psychotherapy (including CBT), medications, self-help or support groups, and supportive housing (sober living homes) if needed.

Alcohol Rehab in Waukegan, Illinois

Alcohol rehab treatment is for people who have alcohol use disorder (AUD) or alcohol addiction, where they drink too much, despite the negative consequences. Usually, when a person has AUD, they have developed a tolerance and experience withdrawal when they try to stop. Long-term alcohol abuse may lead to a variety of health issues, anything from malnutrition and dementia-like symptoms as well as many cancers and heart disease.

The longer (and more heavily) a person drinks, the more likely they’ll need medical oversight when they stop drinking. Medically-assisted detox can be helpful (not to mention a lifesaver) in such situations. Because someone severely addicted to alcohol can experience painful withdrawal and sometimes life-threatening delirium tremens, medical experts can help them detox safely and in comfort while making sure they receive enough fluids and nutrients to replenish any deficiencies alcohol has brought on. Medication can also be used to help with anxiety, vomiting, insomnia, and other withdrawal symptoms.

From there, the patient will go into counseling and therapy to help them adjust to and prepare for a life free of alcohol.

Drug Rehab in Waukegan, Illinois

Drug rehab has some similarities to alcohol. A patient may or may not receive medically assisted treatment, however. Some substances a person can wean off through time, rest, and patience, but others (especially opioids and benzodiazepines) require a doctor or nurse to assist. The patient may require medication to manage any underlying disorders (depression, anxiety) and to help with sleeplessness, nausea, and other discomforts.

The staff can make sure the process occurs safely and comfortably. Once the patient is medically stable, they can move on to treatment.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in Waukegan, Illinois

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that helps the patient identify self-destructive behaviors and dysfunctional thinking. Once problem areas are uncovered, the patient and therapist will work together to modify patient behaviors. They might explore both the positives and negatives of certain actions, including substance use, and patients will self-monitor to note cravings and risks of relapse. They’ll also develop healthier alternatives to help them stay sober.

Paying for Rehabs in Waukegan, Illinois

It’s normal to have questions about the cost of rehab. Even with top insurance plans, there are deductibles to meet and copays to consider.

Many plans have at least some degree of mental health and substance abuse coverage. The Affordable Care Act designated such care as essential health benefits. What is covered, and where a person can go, and for how long, will hinge on a couple of factors, including one’s insurance plan. A patient might only be approved for detoxification, and the rehab center may have to get the insurance to approve further care.

Your health plan provider can answer a lot of questions, including which centers are in-network, what kinds of treatments and therapies are covered, and what costs will run. Rehabs can answer some of those questions, too, since they often work closely with insurance companies to cover treatment costs.

Individuals who are disabled or 65 and older also qualify for Medicare. Parts A and B cover hospitalization and outpatient care, but the patient can be responsible for 20% of costs after deductibles are met. Part D plans offer more prescription savings, and Part C (aka Medicare Advantage) is private insurance that’s Medicare-approved. Supplemental coverage can mean a higher monthly premium but less shock when the explanations of benefits and bills come due.

Medicaid is another insurance option for people who are below a certain income level or who are disabled. Not every rehab center takes Medicaid patients, however. People on Medicaid can get mental health and substance abuse treatment, but they’ll have fewer options.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) lets people search for rehabs and therapists who accept Medicaid. Site visitors can also search by other criteria.

Other options for paying for rehab include paying cash, getting financing, or working out a payment plan with the rehab center.

Traveling to Waukegan, Illinois Rehab Centers

Waukegan is about 30 miles north of O’Hare International Airport, so a drive could take as little as 30 minutes, provided traffic is light. Most people arriving from out of state or beyond a certain distance would likely fly into O’Hare.

Other ways to travel to and near Waukegan include:

  • Metra Chicago and Northwestern rail line
  • Greyhound bus service
  • PACE bus service

Many rehab centers can answer transportation questions. Some even are willing to pick up and return patients home, to the airport, or rail station upon finishing rehab, depending on the distance from the facility.

Waukegan, Illinois Addiction Treatment Resources

12 Steps

Twelve Steps provide peer support for those afflicted with addiction. They usually have more of a spiritual focus, but a person doesn’t need to be a member of a church to take part. Since COVID-19 led to shutdowns, a lot of meetings have been moved online. Before you venture out, be sure to check if the group meets in person.


Non-12-Steps provide support, but they’ll employ more secular methods, including principles of psychology. Many meetings have been moved online due to the pandemic, so it’s a good idea to double-check before venturing out.

  • LifeRing Secular Recovery. Members focus on the group’s three S’s: Sobriety, security, and self-help.
  • SMART Recovery. (Self-Management and Recovery Training). CBT methods are incorporated to help members overcome all kinds of addictions, and not only to alcohol or drugs.
  • Women for Sobriety. This group uses a 13-point New Life Program that focuses on empowerment and spiritual growth.
  • Moderation Management. Members work on moderation rather than abstinence.

Veterans Affairs Addiction Treatment

Anyone who has witnessed or experienced an intense or life-endangering event may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Veterans are at greater risk for PTSD, compared to the general public, purely because of the nature of their work.

PTSD has been described as an agonizing condition. Those who have it may:

  • Relive the trauma
  • Avoid triggering situations
  • Feel on edge or anxiety
  • Self-medicate with alcohol or drugs
  • Have mood swings or depression

The number of veterans who served in operations Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom who have PTSD ranges from 11-20%. An estimated 12% of Gulf War veterans have PTSD, and nearly one in three Vietnam veterans have had it at one time or another.

Veterans can get help, though. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers counseling and treatment resources for mental health and substance use treatment. The Chicago area has several veterans centers, clinics, and hospitals. For example, The Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago offers mental health services, including addiction treatment programs. Lake County also lists veterans’ resources.


  1. lakecountyil.gov – 2019 Lake County Coroner’s Office Annual Report
  2. odos.illinois.edu – 2018 Core Alcohol & Drug Survey
  3. drugabuse.gov – Sexual Assault and Alcohol: What the Research Evidence Tells Us
  4. sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – Joint Commission
  5. sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – LegitScript Certified Rehabs
  6. census.gov – Quick Facts: Waukegan city, Illinois
  7. online.campbellsville.edu – How Demographics Affect Healthcare and Nursing Practice
  8. samhsa.gov – Medication-Assisted Treatment
  9. health.usnews.com – Why You Should Consider Holistic Addiction Treatment
  10. store.samhsa.gov – Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health
  11. nami.org – Substance Use Disorders
  12. mentalhealth.gov – Health Insurance and Mental Health Services
  13. dhs.state.il.us – Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse – IDHS 4650
  14. waukeganil.gov – Transportation
  15. health.usnews.com – Statistics on PTSD in Veterans
  16. va.gov – Substance use treatment for veterans
  17. lovell.fhcc.va.gov – Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center
  18. lakecountyil.gov – Veterans Services

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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