Selecting a treatment center for alcohol and other drug dependencies for yourself or someone you care about may be one of the most important decisions you will make in your lifetime.
Most of us don't know what to look for in a quality program. Not all treatment centers are the same–they differ greatly in program options, staff qualifications, credentials, cost, and effectiveness.
You need to ask appropriate questions when you call a treatment center for information and you should expect to receive clear answers.
Before you make any decisions–ask questions and get the facts!
Does the treatment center offer a variety of programs?
Alcohol and drug addiction is a disease that progresses through predictable stages. It takes a trained health professional, often a doctor specializing in addiction medicine, to make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the most appropriate treatment.
Centers should offer a variety of treatment programs that meet individual needs. Programs may include inpatient, residential, outpatient, and/or short-stay options.
The difference between inpatient and residential treatment is that inpatient services are provided by a licensed hospital, while residential programs usually do not meet the same rigorous standards of medical care.
The length of stay depends on the severity and stage of the disease.
Is the treatment program medically based?
There is an advantage to including on-site medical care in a treatment program. Physicians and nurses provide 24-hour hospital services to monitor and ensure a safe withdrawal from alcohol and other drugs. In addition, a medical staff specializing in addiction medicine can oversee the progress of each individual and make necessary adjustments to the treatment plan.
Medical credentials are also important. For example, chemical dependency treatment centers that earn accreditation from The Joint Commission or CARF (The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) meet very rigorous national standards for providing quality medical care. Appropriate state licensing is also an important consideration.
What does treatment cost?
The price tag for treatment services can be presented in many different formats. You need to know what is included in the price, what will be added on to your bill as a fee-for-service program, and what services your health insurance may cover. This makes it extremely difficult to compare prices by simply asking the question – "What does it cost?"
Very often treatment centers will only state the price for their residential program which can surprise you if additional medical and/or detoxification services are needed. Be sure to compare "apples to apples" or residential to residential when you make your decision. Will the treatment center send you a printed, itemized price list for your consideration?
If you are seeking the best value for your treatment dollar, remember: price can be meaningful only in the context of quality and performance. Be sure to ask which medical costs are included in the price of treatment and which services are priced separately.
What is the degree of family involvement in the recovery program?
The disease of addiction affects the entire family, not just the alcoholic/addict. Quite often family members do not realize how deeply they have been affected by chemical dependency. Family involvement is an important component of recovery.
Treatment centers vary in the degree and quality of family involvement opportunities. Some offer just a few lectures and others offer family therapy. Ask how many hours are devoted to family programs and if group therapy is included.
You should know if a family program is included in the quoted price, or if this constitutes an additional fee-for-service. You should also ask if a children's program is offered to help 7-15 year olds understand about addiction.
Does treatment include a quality recovery support program?
There are no quick fixes for the disease of addiction. Recovery is an ongoing process. The skills one learns during intensive treatment must be integrated into everyday life and this takes time.
Some treatment programs will offer a follow-up program but only in one location which may make it
difficult to attend. Treatment programs should include a quality, recovery support program that supports and monitors recovery.
Ask about the recovery support schedule. Is ongoing care provided and if so, is it provided by the treatment center's staff or a private-practice therapist at an additional charge?
Other questions you should ask when selecting a treatment center
- Are the counselors certified in treating chemical dependency?
- Is there a mental health specialist on staff to provide evaluations at no additional charge if deemed necessary?
- Does the treatment center include internet webcam consultations and follow-up by a physician when deemed appropriate? Is there any additional charge for this service?
- What percentage of treatment counselors are in recovery themselves?
- Is the medical director an addiction medicine specialist with American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) certification?
- Is the facility licensed as a hospital by the state?
- Does the treatment center have licensed psychologists, social workers, and psychiatrists as members of the treatment team?
- Is there a transitional program to help individuals move from inpatient or residential treatment back into community life?
- Is the treatment philosophy based on a strong 12-Step program?
- Is the philosophy of recovery based on abstinence from all mood-altering drugs?