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7 Characteristics of a Good Drug and Alcohol Rehab

a female client inquiring on a drug and alcohol rehab centerIf you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, getting help and going to rehab is the best way to get started turning your life around. Unfortunately, even choosing a rehab center can be a challenge. In 2022, there were 17,353 registered substance use disorder treatment facilities in the United States. This means you’ll have to navigate a large number of options, look at different treatment methods, and put in work to find the treatment center that works for you.

Those facilities also vary considerably in treatment options, luxury, treatment type, and treatment delivery. For example, you can go to a simple outpatient program where you visit the clinic daily. You can also go to a high-end luxury resort that looks and feels like a vacation with therapy on top. There’s also a large range of options in between, which is the best fit for most people. Whatever you go to, the following 7 characteristics of a good drug and alcohol rehab are crucial for your treatment.

1. They Accept Your Insurance

Substance abuse treatment can be extremely expensive, especially if you’re going to an inpatient treatment facility. Having the surety that your program is covered by your insurance allows you to get the help you need without adding on extra financial stress. In addition, if your treatment facility accepts insurance, that means it’s offering medically recognized treatment, has gone through the process of being locally licensed and certified, and meets the standards for quality set by whatever region it is in.

Of course, that’s not always the case. Some insurance programs simply won’t cover inpatient care. Others require that you go to outpatient care first and only cover inpatient care if you relapse after an outpatient program. So, your rehab center not being covered by your insurance provider may be about policy rather than about the rehab facility being part of an established medical network. However, in general, it’s best to work with rehab centers that work with medical providers, that are part of your network, and that can share data and medical files to your doctor and vice-versa, so you get the best possible care.

2. The Facility and Staff are Licensed

It’s important to check who you are working with and who is providing treatment as part of your rehab program. For example, are you working with registered nurses for your detox program? Are counselors licensed? Is there a psychologist or psychiatrist on the team? How much interaction will you have with those people?

Depending on the drug and alcohol rehab team, you’re likely to work with a mix of counselor, nurses, and doctors. You’ll want to see what staff are like and how qualified they. The best programs largely rely on skilled specialist counselors with therapists and doctors to back up those programs, so you get a mix of treatment.

3. The Facility Offers Personalized Treatment

Whether it’s called personalization, trauma-informed care, or a program that’s adjusted to your needs as you move through it, you want to look for personalization. This means that the facility adapts your treatment to you and your needs. This is important because many people going into addiction treatment struggle with unique problems like trauma, co-occurring mental health disorders, and behavioral problems. If you’re having trouble motivating yourself to believe in therapy, therapy should adapt to offer you a motivational program. If you’re struggling to commit to treatment because you’re feeling suicidal, therapy should adapt to address that first.

Personalized treatment means you get the care you need, when you need it, instead of being forced through a cookie-cutter program. That will improve your outcome and will ensure you get the support you need as you need it. However, it can also mean programs last much longer, as you might have to delay treatment to address other symptoms or slow down treatment to your pace.

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4. Low Patient to Staff Ratios

mental health expert at a drug and alcohol rehabThe more one-on-one time you get with staff and counselors, the more value you’ll get from the treatment center. Of course, you also benefit a great deal from interacting with your peers and from group therapy. That’s why basically every treatment option incorporates group therapy as a baseline. It’s good for you to see and experience how others are going through and have gone through addiction, it’s good for you to understand your peers, and it’s good for you to be able to see which aspects of your personality and behavior are you and which are “just” addiction. At the same time, the best drug and alcohol rehab centers maintain a low staff to patient ratio.

In general, ratings are:

  • 14+ patients per staff member – High
  • 4-14 patients per staff member – Average
  • 4 or less patients per staff member – Low

It’s also important to keep in mind that the lower staff to patient ratios are, the more you’ll pay for treatment. However, you’ll also get more direct attention, more personalization, and more insight into your own personal needs. And, that can be extremely valuable, whether you’re going to an inpatient or an outpatient program.

5. Diverse Treatment Options

Most people are aware that there are dozens of ways to treat substance use disorders. Here, you want to look for a program that uses multiple treatment options so that they can adapt your treatment and your program to your needs. For example, if your treatment center is only offering counseling, it might not be a great resource for you.

A good mix of treatment options looks like:

  • Diverse behavioral therapies like CBT, DBT, and EMDR
  • Counseling
  • Group Therapy
  • Motivational Therapies like ACT
  • Complementary therapies like music therapy, nutritional therapy
  • Exercise and fitness programs

Essentially, you want a program that uses a mix of resources, so it can offer you what you need, when you need it.

6. Aftercare Programs

The dream is that you go through rehab and you walk out the other side, a new person, ready to recover. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. Most people end up needing aftercare including ongoing therapy and counseling. Sometimes that’s to give you the support you need to stay clean and sober. In other cases, it’s to give you the support you need to go back to recovery after a relapse. However, any good rehab program will realize that you need this aftercare. Aftercare can mean sober homes, ongoing support and counseling, telehealth support, fast-track readmission in case of a relapse, an outpatient program, checkups and key dates, etc. The important thing is that it’s there, that you discuss with your rehab center what you need and why, and that you have the tools to get that ongoing support.

7. Support for Co-occurring Disorders

More than half of all people with a substance use disorder also have a co-occurring mental health disorder. Many of those include disorders that require medication and treatment. You need to ensure that your facility has the tools to help you manage co-occurring disorders, to help you treat the symptoms of substance use disorders around mental health disorders, and that address how substance use disorders impact your vulnerability to substance abuse and to relapse.

There’s a lot that goes into choosing a drug and alcohol rehab program. Often, you should start by talking to your doctor, decide what you’re looking for, and then figure out where you’re looking for treatment. From there, it’s easier to narrow down treatment options – and you may find that there are only a few that meet the criteria you’re looking for. Hopefully, you can find a great rehab center that meets your needs and helps you take the next step towards recovery.