Research each addiction treatment program

It is impossible to choose the right addiction treatment program for yourself or your loved one if you do not take the time to explore available options and conduct further investigation into those which seem to be the most appropriate for you.

You should consider a variety of factors as you search for the ideal program for your specific, individual needs. Personal preferences undoubtedly play a role. For example, maybe you love the beach so you want to go to an inpatient facility that is located next to the ocean. Many addicts on the verge of taking this monumental step toward positive change will naturally see comfort as their top priority. This is not unusual, however, it should not determine the final selection of the optimal facility.

While most programs share a singular goal – to provide addiction treatment services – there are definite differences in fundamental design, basic concepts, primary practices, core belief systems, methods utilized, and specific services or exclusive specializations. It is critical for you to thoroughly scrutinize every potential program of interest. There are resource directories available online, like that provide details of addiction treatment programs, as well as reviews.

You can also consult with a local substance abuse counselor or county drug and alcohol department coordinator to get their recommendations. If possible set up a tour of prospective places and inquire about the opportunity to speak to current or former clients, as well as the employees. You would be surprised what you can learn from the facility’s cook or janitor, as opposed to the information you will receive from the program director or clinical supervisor. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Even if you are doing a telephone inquiry, the program representative should be qualified to clarify most information.

There are some key elements to be considered when evaluating which addiction treatment program is the best for you. Please note that these are only suggestions and this list is not intended to be all-inclusive.

  • Location (This is important for family involvement and visitation, as well as removing the addict from the familiar people, places and things – getting an individual out of their “comfort zone”)
  • Cost (Do they accept health insurance, offer a sliding scale based on client’s income, or provide optional payment plans?)
  • Services offered (Individual and group counseling, family therapy, and life skills instruction are a few common features. Some programs will specify subjects addressed in group, such as relapse prevention, feelings, triggers, life history, family dynamics, change, healthy living and more.)
  • Treatment approaches (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Contingency Management Interventions, Motivational Enhancement, 12 Step Facilitation Therapy – such as program of Narcotics Anonymous [NA], Therapeutic Community [TC], Medication Assisted Treatment [MAT], Holistic Healing and others.)
  • Specializations (For example dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders, trauma, women’s/men’s issues, religious, Adult Children of Alcoholics [ACOA], Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual [LGBT], HIV (This disease can be contracted when addicts share needles or engage in unprotected sex.)
  • Length of stay (Varies anywhere from 10 days to 10 months or more)
  • Number of staff (or ratio of clients to professional staff)
  • Qualifications (What level of education or certifications/license(s) do the professional treatment workers have?)
  • Credentialing (Is the program accredited and/or do they have official license(s) required by state guidelines?)
  • Medical personnel (Is there a Doctor or Nurse in the building at all times? If not, how often do clients get to see the Doctor – for both psychiatric and physical health needs? And what happens in the case of a medical emergency?)
  • Do they offer specific treatment approaches to target each drug of choice? (For example, treatment methods effective for opiate addiction are different from therapeutic formulas useful for methamphetamine addiction. Individualized recovery plans are essential for any addict to respond to the treatment techniques, which is part of the measure of success and long-term sobriety.)
  • How many years has the program been in existence? Do they have a percentage of how many people complete successfully? And do they keep track of how many graduates are still sober after a year or 2 or 10 or 20? Do they have any specific “success stories?” or perhaps a celebrity client? or someone who went on to become well-known in the field of recovery or recognized for their contributions to addiction treatment?

In addition to reviewing the criteria listed above, it is wise to consider the ethics and integrity of the program in general and professionals specifically, who will be trusted take care of you or your loved one. You can rely on your gut instinct if you are able to tour the facility and meet the staff prior to making your decision. Or with the vast information available online you can research complaints against the program, violations of mandated codes, program reviews, staff biographies and reputations. Hopefully these ideas will help you make the best choice if you or someone you love needs to find an addiction treatment program. Please contact us for more information.

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