How to Choose a Drug and Alcohol Rehab Treatment Facility: 6 questions to ask.

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Choosing a drug and alcohol rehab for yourself or your loved one can be an extremely challenging proposition. Often times you are in crisis and not in the best emotional position to make such an important decision. With referrals from friends, family and medical professionals and all of the slick online marketing and brochures floating around, how do you know you are selecting the best drug and alcohol treatment center? After all, selecting the best drug and alcohol rehab for yourself or your loved one is a huge investment in time and money. You shop around for the best deals on everything else, right? Why wouldn’t you shop for the best combination of value and price when it comes to addiction treatment? Read this blog post! Become an informed consumer!

Top 6 questions to ask yourself (and the potential rehab center) when searching for a drug and alcohol rehab facility:


  1. Are you licensed by the state you are doing business in? This is an important question. Most consumers assume that because someone is in businesses they must be licensed. That is not necessarily the case. In Colorado, for example, substance abuse treatment centers are not required by law to be licensed. However, when a drug and alcohol treatment center is operating unlicensed, you have to ask yourself “why.” If the drug and alcohol treatment facility you are considering is not licensed then buyer beware. An unlicensed treatment facility answers to no one. There are no quality control or assurance checks being made by the state. There is no regulatory body you can make complaints to if something goes wrong. There are no requirements for staff credentials and program curriculum. When you utilize an unlicensed drug and alcohol rehab center, you have no idea the quality of services that are being provided.
  2. Are you Joint Commission Accredited? The Joint Commission is an accrediting body that accredits all manor of healthcare facilities from surgical centers to acute psychiatric hospitals and drug and alcohol detox centers. State licensing sets the “floor” for how a drug and alcohol rehab center needs to operate in order to ensure quality service. Joint Commission accreditation significantly raises that bar and means that the drug and alcohol rehab you are considering has taken steps to ensure the excellence in service delivery. If a treatment center is state licensed and Joint Commission accredited, it means that they have voluntarily opened themselves up to review by the state and the Joint Commission and they are accountable for delivering the very best substance abuse services to their clients.
  3. Do you accept Insurance? Unlicensed drug and alcohol treatment centers are unable to accept insurance. Therefore, not only do you not know what you are getting by attending an unlicensed drug and alcohol rehab center, but you are paying WAY more for it. Crazy right? Well, many people think that the more they pay for something the better it must be. Also, “private” drug and alcohol rehabs must be way better, right? Wrong! Health insurance not only helps to pay for your son or daughter’s drug and alcohol treatment but it is also an additional layer of accountability for the rehab facility in addition to licensure and accreditation. Insurance companies will only pay for services that are medically necessary, performed properly and documented properly. If the services provided were not necessary, performed correctly or documented correctly, the insurance company will not pay! Therefore, if a drug and alcohol rehab facility accepts your insurance, that means that they are on top of their game when it comes to treatment because otherwise they will not be paid for services!
  4. What are the credentials of your staff? In this writer’s opinion, every single person providing care, treatment or services in a drug and alcohol rehab facility needs to be a licensed It is a best practice for every therapist to hold an accredited masters degree AND a state license as a professional counselor, clinical social worker, physician or similar. Often times you have one shot at a successful drug and alcohol rehab stay. Do you want to risk having an “intern” level clinician performing individual and group therapy? I wouldn’t if it were my loved one. I would want dedicated and passionate career professionals who are licensed and credentialed providing top quality care.
  5. How do you define individualized services? At NorthStar Transitions, each client receives up to 6 hours per week of one-on-one Case Management. The role of the Case Manager is to help clients with practical life skills such as vocational and academic goals, personal hygiene etc. We want to make sure that clients are learning there important practical skills while in treatment and have someone who not only tells them what they need to do but shows them hand-in hand how it is done. This is how we operate at NorthStar but it is an important question to ask of any drug and alcohol treatment center you are considering.
  6. What are the living accommodations like? Many drug and alcohol rehab centers will jam 4 people into a room in a 5 bedroom house in order to maximize the revenue per square foot from their patients. This does not lend itself to a safe, comforting and healing therapeutic environment. Treatment (and being new in recovery in general) can be very stressful. It is important that clients have adequate personal space for relaxation during their down time. Also important is that the sober living home or recovery environment the client is living in is centrally located to jobs, schools, bus lines etc.