How to choose an addiction treatment center

Once you have decided that you or a loved one are in need of a treatment program to combat an addiction, the next step is to choose an addiction treatment center that is right for you.

Choosing an addiction treatment center can be overwhelming and stressful — there are many factors to consider. Fortunately, you can break down the process into steps and simple questions that will make the selection easier. After all, choosing the addiction center that will best fit your needs and keep you free from relapsing will be the most important investment you make.

There are several things that you should consider when you begin to search for the right addiction treatment center:

  • Be sure to choose a facility that uses an evidence-based approach to their treatment. Procedures that the treatment center uses must be backed by scientific research. The facility should approach addiction treatment not as a psychological issue, but as a medical problem.
  • Make sure that the center is “in-network” with your insurance. Otherwise, expect to be paying out-of-pocket for some expenses.
  • Do your research! Investigate the treatment center’s website and see what other patients are saying about the facility.
  • Give the center a call, and see how the admissions team treats you, and if the staff is helpful to you.
  • Ask the treatment center to give you a tour. Some facilities have online tours available for prospective patients.
  • Look for post-treatment services that the treatment center offers.

Questions you should ask your addiction treatment program

Some addiction treatment centers rely on “pseudo-science” and other questionable practices for their procedures. Choosing an addiction treatment center shouldn’t come with dangerous chances. Ask the following questions to any possible care provider before making your decision:

What type of accreditation or licensing does your facility have?

State licensing differs from accreditation — states widely vary in their requirements for addiction treatment centers, whereas national accreditation is bestowed on programs based on scientific research that has been proven to be effective.

Any addiction treatment center that you choose should be recognized by CARF International (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities). A program that is accredited by CARF has demonstrated that it is committed to constant improvement and progress, and maintains the standards of accountability and effectiveness set forth by CARF and state department health services.

What are the credentials of your staff?

Licenses and credentials that are issued to people providing treatment should meet nationally recognized standards of excellence. Such credentials include LADC (licensed drug and alcohol counselor), LPC (licensed professional counselor), CAC (certified addictions counselor), and CCDP (certified co-occurring disorders counselor).

What studies exist that have measured the effectiveness of your program’s methods?

In addition to using research-based methods of treatment, every addiction center should be measuring and providing a rating of their program.

How many patients and doctors do you have?

It’s crucial that an addiction treatment center maintains a proper ratio between counselors and patients, which ensures that every patient is receiving the care and attention that they need.

Is the program specialized for gender?

Research shows that men and women recover from addiction differently. It is important that your addiction treatment center applies proper and effective methods appropriate to one’s sex. Patients involved in the treatment program are vulnerable — facilities that separate the sexes provide a better environment for a patient’s stability and focus on the recovery process.

Do you offer detoxification (“detox”) in your inpatient program?

Detoxification is the process of removing all addictive, harmful substances from the patient’s body. It is crucial this be performed under medical supervision as a method of stabilization before other treatments begin.

Do you offer programs that are individualized?

Every patient has his or her own needs. An addiction treatment program should be honed to best suit the personal needs of every patient. The treatment should involve addressing co-occurring issues that are alongside with, or possibly the cause of, the addiction. These issues include anxiety and depression.

Does your program address all the needs of an individual?

Every patient has a variety of needs — psychological, spiritual, as well as physical. Addressing all the needs of a patient is important in order to assure a complete and full recovery.

How does the program help families?

Not only is it important for a treatment program to tend to the needs of a patient, but it should also provide counseling to the family as well. It is crucial that a healthy source of support be established for when the patient is in recovery and after the patient is admitted from the program. Addiction impacts the whole family — your family should be involved in recovery.

What is the environment like in your program?

A recovery program should have a setting that is respectful and dignifying to the patient. The patient should not feel as if he or she is being “institutionalized.” The environment should allow the patient to put full attention and focus on learning about addiction and recovery from it.

What post-treatment support is offered to patients?

Not only is it important that a patient receives proper, full care inside of an addiction recovery facility, but there should be an aftercare regimen that addresses the patient’s needs once he or she has left the facility. Such aftercare programs include Alcoholics Anonymous or other Twelve Step groups. A good aftercare program will keep a patient from relapsing into their addiction once they have left the addiction treatment center.

Are you in connection with insurance companies?

Stress and tension are already high when you are looking for a solution to your addiction problem. Financial burdens only make this much worse. See if your prospective addiction treatment center can help you through to navigate through these details — it is important that an addiction facility is able to assist you financially in as many ways as possible.


  • Bibliography

    Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

    Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

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