9 Things to Look for in an Addiction Treatment Program

9 Things to Look for in an Addiction Treatment Program

Choosing an addiction treatment program is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever have to make. Entering treatment for addiction is a major investment in time and money and the outcome will affect your life and your family’s life for years to come. Clearly, it’s a decision you want to get right but it’s also complicated. There are somewhere around 14,000 addiction treatment centers in the US. They vary in size, quality, methods, levels of treatment, and other important factors. For most people, it’s hard to know which facilities are good and which aren’t. Here are some things to look for in a quality addiction treatment center.

Individualized treatment

The first thing to look for is whether a treatment center offers individualized treatment or a one-size-fits-all approach. Addiction is a multifaceted disease with psychological, physical, and spiritual aspects. Everyone brings a different history and circumstances into treatment and no single approach will work for everyone. Before you or your loved one enters a facility, they should ask a lot of questions about your substance use history, your medical history, your psychiatric history, and your personal history to try to better understand if you are a good fit for their program and how they might best help you. A low ratio of clients to staff is another good sign you’ll get individual attention.

Qualified staff

Qualified staff is an essential element of effective treatment. The best methods and amenities won’t mean anything if the people treating you don’t know what they’re doing. Look for a diverse staff with credentialled and experienced members in different fields including medicine, counselling, psychology, nutrition, and nursing. Ideally, there should be a doctor on staff board certified in addiction medicine. Therapists with master’s degrees or doctorates are a great sign. Addiction treatment professionals may hold credentials such as licensed alcohol and drug counselor, or LADC, licensed professional counselor, or LPC, certified addictions counselor, or CAC, or certified co-occurring disorders counselor, or CCDP. The more experience the staff has in treating addiction, the better.

Evidence-based methods

It’s important the program uses evidence-based methods. Evidence-based methods are simply methods that scientific studies have shown to be effective. Many programs are just residential 12-step programs and some just use home-grown methods with no research or track record. Some of the methods that have the most robust scientific support include cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, motivational enhancement therapy, family therapy, and others. 

Clean, comfortable facilities

Addiction treatment facilities can range from very spartan to very posh but typically, it’s enough for the facilities to be clean and comfortable. If facilities are too shabby, it may distract from treatment, be a sign of cutting corners, or worse, indicate that the facility doesn’t care about its clients. On the other hand, luxurious accommodations are nice, but you may end up paying too much for a fancy room and amenities. Most of your money should be going to professional care and not luxuries. 

Family involvement

It’s often said that addiction is a family disease and family needs to be part of the solution as well. Many families have dysfunctional dynamics and poor communication that contributes to an unhealthy environment. This not only makes it harder to overcome addiction but also makes family life unpleasant for all the members. Therefore, it’s crucial that the family be involved in treatment. A good program will want to involve the family as much as possible, including participating in family therapy and education programs. Once someone leaves treatment, the family will be a major part of the support system for recovery.


One way governments and insurance companies have responded to the opioid crisis in the US has been to increase the options for paying for treatment. Most insurance companies now pay for at least part of inpatient treatment and federal programs such as Medicare and Medicaid can now be used more liberally to pay for treatment. The downside is that a lot of treatment centers have popped up to take advantage of the situation. While longevity isn’t always correlated with quality, it is often a positive sign. It shows a facility has been providing care adequate to keep it’s doors open. At the very least, you will be able to find more information–such as reviews, press coverage, or legal problems–about a facility that has existed for a while.


Since treatment is often expensive, most people will need a program that accepts their insurance. Most reputable programs accept various kinds of insurance so this shouldn’t be very difficult. Even if you intend to pay out of pocket, it’s a good idea to check whether a program works with insurance. Insurance companies often use some kind of third-party evaluation to measure treatment outcomes so they know if their money is well spent. If no insurance company works with a treatment program, it may be a sign those outcomes are not very good.

Treatment for co-occurring conditions

At least half of people seeking treatment for addiction also have a co-occurring mental health issue related to addiction. Common co-occurring disorders include anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, ADHD, PTSD, and autism spectrum disorders. These are often the driving force behind the addiction and they need to be treated in an integrated way to overcome the addiction. Many people also have medical issues related to substance use and it’s important to be sure the treatment center has the medical staff and facilities necessary to address that condition.

Good follow-up care

Treatment is only the beginning of recovery and most stays aren’t long enough to firmly establish the new skills and habits that people learn in treatment. What’s more, making the transition from the supportive and predictable environment of inpatient treatment to the chaotic environment of regular life is tricky for most people. Having good follow-up care makes this transition a little easier. This might include follow-up counseling, alumni events, alumni networking, and recovery planning. Many quality programs also check in periodically on alumni to get feedback they can use to improve their program. 

At Patrick Hart Consultants, we provide a number of different services to fit the needs of each individual client. Among these, are helping you choose a treatment provider, helping you develop a treatment plan, helping you establish post-treatment support, and ensuring continuity among the different elements of treatment. Contact us today at 844-262-7970 or Info@PatrickHartConsultants.com or explore our website for more information.


AUTHOR: Patrick Hart Consultants