When you’ve made the difficult decision to accept and go into treatment for drug or alcohol abuse, you’re past the first hurdle. But how do you find the treatment program that’s right for you? Here are five essential tips to help you get started.
1. Do Your Research
Before you can find the best treatment center to suit your unique needs, you must do your research. This holds true whether you are the person seeking treatment or you’re conducting the search on behalf of a loved one, family member or friend. Keep in mind that there are many different treatment choices available to those who desire to get clean and sober and begin a life in recovery. Not all of them will be appropriate for your needs. Put in the time to do a thorough search. After all, you want a treatment program that will provide you with the best foundation for living a drug- and alcohol-free life.
2. Ask the Right Questions
An important part of research is asking the right questions. While the number and variety of leisure activities helps with ambience and overall comfort, it shouldn’t be at the top of the list of things to look for. These are considerations, of course, but they should be after other critical treatment areas are addressed.
A guide1 published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) lists five main questions to use in searching for a treatment program:
Does the program use treatments backed by scientific evidence?
One of the first considerations in selecting the treatment program that’s best for you is to find out if the drug rehab center uses scientifically-backed treatments2. Just what are some of these treatments? The NIDA says that they include behavioral therapy, medications, and ideally a combination of both. As for types of behavioral therapy, there are many, such as:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)3
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)4
- Motivational Incentives5
- Motivational Interviewing6
- Group Therapy7
What’s important to note is that while some therapies may be more appropriate for those with certain addictions than others, with the right screening and evaluation and ongoing monitoring and evaluation of your treatment therapies, scientifically-backed behavioral therapies can assist you in making progress toward your goal of long-term sobriety.
Does the program tailor treatment to the needs of each patient?
You want confidence that the treatment program you choose will provide personalized and tailored treatment8 to meet your needs. You want treatment that is broad in scope, considers your age, gender, culture, ethnicity and other factors in addition to your specific needs with respect to your addiction.
The severity of your addiction, how long you’ve been addicted, whether this is your first time in treatment or you’ve been in treatment multiple times following relapse, and other efforts you’ve used to stop using drugs and/or alcohol will also affect the type of treatment approach tailored to meet your needs.
Does the program adapt treatment as the patient’s needs change?
Whatever drug rehab or alcohol rehab center you choose, the only way treatment will have a chance of success is if it evolves and adapts9 to meet your changing needs. This means the treatment professionals assess and modify treatment to meet these needs.
Built-in drug monitoring is one aspect of adapting program treatment. Medications are adjusted based on tolerance and effectiveness in treating your addiction. Meeting your needs for certain support services is another way the best treatment programs help adapt to meet your needs.
Is the duration of the treatment sufficient?
Research from NIDA suggests that effective treatment lasts three months or longer10. A longer-duration treatment time is necessary to better ensure that you’re able to stop or reduce drug or alcohol abuse. In addition, there’s considerable documented evidence that longer treatment times produce better recovery outcomes.
While there is no one-size-fits-all treatment approach, and how long you remain in treatment will depend on the type and degree of your drug or alcohol problem and your needs, the fact that drug addiction treatment experts recommend longer treatment duration of at least 90 days in a long-term rehab center is a good parameter on which to select the treatment center for you.
Remember that recovery is an ongoing process. Relapse is not only frequent, it is expected. This does not constitute failure, however, as many in recovery experience multiple relapses before they’re fully self-confident and have a firm grasp of effective strategies to maintain their sobriety. Longer stays in alcohol treatment centers and drug rehab centers also gives you the opportunity to cultivate and maintain ongoing support with members of your family, other loved ones, 12-step and self-help groups and the community.
How do 12-step or similar recovery programs fit into drug addiction treatment?
Two statements you’ll often hear about addiction and recovery are that you’re not alone in recovery and you never recover alone. What this means is that those in recovery need the support and encouragement of others like themselves to help maintain their sobriety and adopt other healthy lifestyle goals. They find this in 12-step and other self-help groups, the oldest and most widely recognized of which is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).11
Where 12-step programs fit within the treatment program is another key question to ask – before you enter a drug or alcohol abuse treatment program. Many drug and alcohol treatment facilities strongly encourage participation in 12-step group meetings both during their treatment stay and upon entering recovery. Some drug rehab centers incorporate 12-step principles into their overall treatment philosophy.
3. Residential or Outpatient Treatment
If you have adequate insurance coverage to pay for residential treatment12, particularly in a long-term drug rehab center, this may be the best way to go to overcome your addiction. Even if you lack coverage for the full amount of treatment, inquire about financing, sliding-scale payment plan, scholarships, and federal, state or local assistance. Inability to pay should never stand in the way of getting treatment.
For some seeking the best treatment for their addiction, physical residence at a drug rehab center is not the most accommodating choice. They may have work or family obligations that preclude being away from home for an extended stay. Intensive outpatient treatment may prove to be the smart choice here.
4. Close to Home or Far Away
For many individuals considering drug rehab, the final selection process comes down to an alcohol or drug treatment center that’s either close to home or some distance away. If you want loved ones and family members to be able to visit when permitted, and can freely participate in family therapy13, a close-by inpatient drug rehab center is likely the way to go.
Sometimes, however, your personal circumstances are such that you don’t have family or don’t want them to visit for any number of reasons. This could include other members of the family currently addicted and refusing to go into treatment, being estranged from the family, or other negative influences that might jeopardize your treatment. You might also feel that you need a complete, clean break from all home influences to get the most out of your treatment. These reasons may make consideration of an out-of-state rehab center or an alcohol or drug treatment center several hours away.
5. Visit the Facility
You wouldn’t buy an expensive item or service without checking it out firsthand ahead of time. One of the most reassuring ways to ensure you’ve chosen the right treatment program is to pay a visit to the facility. There’s nothing like walking the grounds, taking a guided tour through the communal areas of the facility, checking out the lifestyle activities offered, and meeting with some of the staff to get an overall feel about the place.
If a physical visit isn’t practical, look for addiction treatment program centers that have virtual tours available on their website.
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