How to Choose a Treatment Center
Things to Consider
Choosing the right treatment center involves weighing a lot of choices. There are a number of variables that, depending on the individual, serve to facilitate—or hinder—a successful treatment outcome. Below are some important things to consider before choosing a treatment center.
There are a number of inpatient programs located across the country. While some people prefer to stay close to home, others decide to travel across state lines—or even to another country—to attend treatment.
You might prefer to attend a treatment center far from your current location to remove yourself from the environment that is fostering active addiction. Or you might find that a distant facility offers services that are unique to your needs.
In contrast, you may wish to stay close to home to be near a support network of friends and family. Local centers may also keep your costs down, as you won’t have to pay for travel.
Inpatient treatment programs range from $10,000 for basic, government-funded programs to upwards of $80,000 for private, luxury facilities. When researching treatment programs, find out how much your insurance company will cover and how much you’ll need to pay out-of-pocket. It is likely that your insurance plan will provide at least partial coverage for detox and substance abuse treatment services, since they are now required to cover behavioral health services (including addiction) to the same extent that they do medical treatment.
Medical detox is an absolute necessity for some substances such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates, which can produce life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. However, it is can also benefit many others who don’t necessarily face dangerous withdrawal but will experience severe discomfort that may trigger relapse. Medical detox services can provide you with around-the-clock medical care, psychiatric support, medications to ease withdrawal and cravings, if applicable, and supportive medications.
Treatment of Co-Occurring Psychiatric Disorders
There is a large correlation between substance use and mental health disorders. Anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders frequently co-occur with drug abuse.
When someone has both a substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health disorder, this is called a “dual-diagnosis.” It’s important that you make sure the treatment center you are considering offers mental health services if this is a concern. Some recovery programs may specialize in providing integrated care for those with dual diagnoses.
Credentials of Staff
Programs range from having staff with virtually no credentials to a full staff of medical doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and/or substance abuse counselors.
Make sure to ask the treatment center about staff qualifications before committing to a program.
Integration of Family
Some programs will take many measures to integrate family members into the treatment process, for example through family therapy, while other programs will focus solely on the client.
Consider how important family involvement is to you and choose a program accordingly.
Length of the Program
Inpatient programs generally last 30, 60, or 90 days. This may feel like a long time away from home; however, an adequate time in treatment is essential for recovery, and The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggests that longer periods of treatment may result in better outcomes.
Relapse Prevention and Aftercare
It is extremely important to develop a relapse prevention and aftercare plan during rehab, as leaving without such measures in place can leave you distressed, without support, and prone to relapse.
Make sure to ask treatment programs how they will help you stay sober once you leave the facility. A relapse prevention and aftercare plan can consist of a combination of services, such as sober living, individual therapy, group counseling, family therapy, 12-step meetings, non-12-step meetings, and more.
Services can vary greatly depending on the program. It is ideal that a treatment center offer a wide, comprehensive array of treatment approaches, including, but not limited to:
- Medical and psychiatric treatment.
- Individual therapy.
- Group therapy.
- Educational meetings.
- Assistance with social service needs.
Therapy can take many forms. Do your research on what type of approach might best suit you. Options include the more traditional cognitive-behavioral approaches, as well as motivational incentives (rewards-based) programs, mindfulness-based therapy, and more. Some programs may use a combination of therapeutic interventions to utilize a comprehensive approach.
Religious or Secular Orientation
Many programs incorporate a specific religious or spiritual orientation, while others offer a secular approach. Consider if this variable is important in your recovery.
Remember that approaches that discuss a “higher power” typically allow you to define that higher power for yourself.
Amenities will vary widely according to the program you pick. Some centers, especially luxury ones, offer upscale program features and amenities that many people find helpful in recovery. These may include:
- Nutritional programs.
- Equine therapy.
- Spa treatment.
- Fitness programs.
If you can’t afford a luxury center or another program with a ton of services, don’t worry. Even the more bare-bones programs can offer you the care you need to get sober. Many of the additional amenities add comfort but may not be necessary for your recovery.
Questions to Ask the Rehab Center
Make sure to ask treatment centers these questions if they are relevant for you:
- Will I have a roommate?
- When can my friends and family visit?
- Can I bring my pet?
- Do you have meals to accommodate my diet (e.g., vegetarian, gluten-free)?
- Can I bring my phone/laptop? How much time can I spend using them?
- Will I have Internet access?
5 Factors Predicting Success in Treatment
It is estimated that 40-60% of individuals treated for a substance use disorder (SUD) end up relapsing.1 With so many treatment programs out there—some offering big promises and claiming to be the “best” facility—how do you know if you are really choosing a quality program?
Dr. Don Meichenbaum, one of the founders of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and consultant in the addiction treatment field, describes 5 factors that predict success in treatment:
- The Therapeutic Alliance. The quality of the therapeutic alliance that is established and maintained between clients and treatment staff.
- Client Engagement. The degree of client engagement and active participation in treatment, e.g., in groups, individual therapy, and pharmacologic treatment.
- Perception. The client’s beliefs about how he is improving in treatment.
- Relapse Prevention and Aftercare. Establishing an aftercare/discharge plan, which may include family members, non-substance abusing peers, or other long-term treatment and support.
- Individualized Treatment and Feedback. Implementing an individualized treatment program based on the patient’s moment-to-moment success, or the evidenced-based outcomes of others previously in treatment.
Some questions you might ask to get a feel for how a potential treatment center’s practices align with these 5 factors include the following:
- How does your staff develop and monitor a therapeutic alliance with clients?
- How does staff engage clients in goal setting and developing a long-term recovery plan?
- How does your staff integrate treatment for dual diagnoses?
- Describe clearly how patients, while in the facility, plan for their life after discharge? Are others (family, sponsors, etc.) involved in this plan?
- How effective has your treatment program been in helping clients become abstinent, or reducing substance use, and living a healthy life? Do you have any data that reflects this?
Find a Treatment Center
To ensure you find a quality program that’s right for you, read more about what types of treatments are available, and what being in treatment is like. For assistance finding a program, call 1-888-851-2649 Who Answers? today.
- McLellan, A. T., Lewis, D. C., O’Brien, C. P., & Kleber, H. D. (2000). Drug dependence, a chronic medical illness: implications for treatment, insurance, and outcomes evaluation. JAMA, 284(13), 1689-1695.
- Meichenbaum, D. (n.d.). Consumer’s Guidelines for Choosing a Residential Treatment Center (RTC) [Letter to Director of Treatment].