When it comes down to choosing an addiction treatment center for yourself or a loved one, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. With so many options to choose from, you may find yourself wondering—what’s really important? What should I be looking for to give myself or my loved one the best chance of recovering from drug or alcohol addiction?

A successful recovery from addiction looks different for everyone. However, even though each individual is entering treatment with a unique situation, there are still some key things to look for while researching addiction treatment centers.

What to Look for in an Addiction Treatment Center

As you work to decide on which addiction treatment center may be best for you or your loved one, keep these items in mind and be sure to discuss them with the appropriate staff members at each treatment center you’re considering.

Long-term care with transitional support

A common contributor to relapse in those struggling with drug or alcohol addiction is lack of time spent in treatment. Several addiction treatment centers limit treatment time to 28 or 30 day, but according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most individuals suffering from addiction need to remain in treatment for at least three months to stop or significantly reduce substance use. With this in mind, look for addiction treatment centers that offer long-term care. Ask how long people typically stay at the facility and if there is a cap on how long people can remain in treatment.

What’s more, look for programs that offer transitional support to phase individuals out of treatment. For most people, abruptly stopping treatment does not bode well for long-term sobriety. Ask the facility how individuals can transition to less-intense levels of care as opposed to an instant change from full-time treatment to independent living.

Staff available to provide care and behavioral monitoring 24 hours a day

The early stages of recovery can be both physically and mentally challenging. Consequently, problems or emergencies may arise that need to be addressed outside of typical working hours. Be sure to ask the addiction treatment center if they have an awake member of staff available 24 hours a day. If the center in question is an outpatient facility where patients do not live on-site, ask if on-call clinicians are available or what protocol should be followed if a crisis occurs during evening or nighttime hours.

Credentials, licenses, and experience of clinical staff

Drug and alcohol addiction is a unique medical condition. Consequently, it’s important for clinical staff at any addiction treatment center to not only be licensed but also have experience working with addiction and substance abuse. Some credentials to look for include: Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC), Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Additionally, all physicians involved with the addiction treatment center should be board certified, ideally in Addiction Medicine or Addiction Psychiatry.

Evidence-based treatment modalities

Although addiction treatment never comes with a guarantee, your loved one may have a greater chance of success if you look for an addiction treatment center that uses evidence-based treatment modalities. The term “evidence-based” is used in addiction treatment to identify methods have been shown through research and quantitative data to produce positive results. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, some examples of evidence-based modalities in addiction treatment include:

  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)
  • 12-Step Facilitation Therapy
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Family Behavior Therapy (FBT)
  • Contingency Management (CM)
  • Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA)
  • The Matrix Model

Many addiction treatment centers will offer a mix of the evidence-based treatments listed above along with holistic therapies such as acupuncture, yoga and meditation. Treatment facilities that combine evidence-based treatment with holistic methods aim to treat the entire individual and not just the addiction.

Programming that addresses other aspects of a healthy life including nutrition and fitness, mindfulness, spirituality, and social engagement

For those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, becoming healthy means more than just stopping substance use. There are many other factors that contribute to leading a fulfilled, meaningful, and happy life. Consequently, look for addiction treatment centers that offer programs, education, and opportunities for individuals to explore other aspects of healthy living such as group outings, nutrition education, fitness training, community involvement, mentorship, and spiritual counseling.

Life skills training

For those in recovery, it’s important to start planning for and envisioning life after treatment. Consequently, look for addiction treatment centers that help individuals learn important life skills that are necessary for living independently. Life skills that are crucial for success outside of treatment include money management, nutrition counseling, career and/or educational goal setting, job hunting skills, building healthy relationships, and more.

Treatment available for co-occurring psychological or medical conditions

Many individuals enter treatment with co-occurring psychological or medical conditions that need to be treated by a physician or other appropriate medical professional. Ideally, the addiction treatment center should have a physician who specializes in addiction medicine on site to provide medical evaluations and medication, if necessary. If this is not available, ensure that the treatment center has relationships with individual off-site psychiatrists and other medical providers who can provide care.

If your loved one is planning to detox from drugs or alcohol at an addiction treatment center, make sure there are nurses and physicians on-site who can monitor this process and help keep them safe and comfortable during the detox period.

Personalized treatment plans

Each person entering addiction treatment will have different backgrounds, interests, and needs. A reputable addiction treatment center should acknowledge this and be able to customize care for each individual. Ask members of staff how treatment plans are created, if the individual seeking treatment has any input, and if families can be involved.

Low client-to-staff ratio

Having a low client-to-staff ratio means that every individual can receive personalized care and attention during recovery while also ensuring that any problems or emergencies can be addressed quickly. Many highly rated addiction treatment centers have client-to-staff ratios ranging from 1:3 to 1:10. Some high-end treatment facilities may even offer a 1:1 ratio. Since some individuals will need more personalized care than others, it’s important to ask the staff what the typical client-to-staff ratio is at the facility in question and if that ratio would best suit the needs of the individual entering treatment.

Safe, peaceful environment

Recovery in and of itself can be emotionally challenging. Consequently, being able to recover in an environment that feels comfortable, safe, and peaceful can greatly contribute to a person’s success in treatment. If you’re visiting addiction treatment centers, notice how you feel in the building. Does it invoke calmness and inspiration or do you feel anxious and distressed? Look at the neighborhood around the treatment center, as well. Your loved one and any friends or family members should feel safe entering and exiting the building at all times.

Family involvement

Addiction never only affects a single person. In fact, in many cases, entire families need to recover from addiction as much as the individual currently struggling with it. This is why it’s vital to have the option for families to be involved in treatment. By giving families a safe, neutral space to explore family dynamics, change unhealthy behaviors, and reconnect with one another, it’s more likely that the individual in treatment will have a strong familial support system in place when they transition back to ‘normal’ life. To give your loved one a better chance of maintaining long-term sobriety, look for addiction treatment centers that offer tools such as family therapy as part of the recovery process.

Aftercare planning

Even though completing a drug or alcohol addiction treatment program is a huge accomplishment, for many individuals, maintaining sobriety is a lifelong process. Consequently, when considering treatment facilities, ask about aftercare planning as part of the treatment plan.

Aftercare planning typically involves building a support system in the early stages of recovery to help individuals maintain sobriety once they leave treatment. Most reputable addiction treatment centers will have case managers to help people obtain this kind of continued support. Aftercare services may include, but are not limited to, sober mentoring, an alumni program, sober housing placement, and 12-step groups.  

Assistance understanding the cost of treatment

Addiction treatment can be expensive and having to navigate the world of health insurance when emotions are running high is not ideal. Therefore, while looking for an addiction treatment center, ask if they have staff who can provide guidance in regards to financing treatment. Some questions to ask may include:

  • Do they accept insurance?
  • Are they in-network with your insurance?
  • What are the expected out-of-pocket expenses?
  • Do they offer payment plans, sliding scale fees, or know of scholarships or grants you can apply for?

Just like with a hospital stay, the staff may not be able to give you all costs up-front. However  they should have the knowledge to help you understand insurance coverage and financing options.

Positive reviews and testimonials from former clients

Do your research and look at what other people have to say about each addiction treatment center you’re considering. What do you see on Yelp, Google, social media, and testimonials on their website? Seeing what former clients and their families have to say about the facility may be able to give you some insight as to what your experience could be like.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 310.403.1032 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.