What to Look for in an Addiction Treatment Program

What to Look for in an Addiction Treatment Program

As the opioid epidemic in the US continues to get worse, there is more need than ever for effective addiction treatment options. In 2017, more than 70,000 Americans died of drug overdose and each year more than 88,000 people die of alcohol-related causes. If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance use disorder, getting the right help can mean the difference between life and death. However there are around 14,000 addiction treatment centers in the US and choosing the right one can be confusing or even overwhelming. Different programs provide different levels of care, different levels of expertise, and different levels of quality. Beyond that, a program might be of high quality, but not well suited to your needs. How can you narrow down your options and find an addiction treatment program that’s right for you?

Individualized care

When it comes to addiction treatment, there is no one size that fits all. The features of substance use disorders may be similar for many people, but the underlying factors may vary widely. One person may have struggled with addiction for a few years and another may have struggled with addiction for a few decades. Men and women often face different challenges in recovery. People at different stages of life have different challenges as well. For these reasons, many programs will divide patients based on sex or age for a more targeted approach to treatment. Most importantly, everyone brings a different genetic profile, personal history, and mental health history to treatment. These all have to be addressed with personalized treatment plans for treatment to be effective.

Evidence-based methods

Evidence-based methods are simply those that research has found to actually work. You might assume that every treatment program would use evidence-based methods, but in reality, only a minority do. Since these methods are based on ongoing research, they may change over time, but certain methods have quite a bit of research supporting their effectiveness. These include psychotherapeutic techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, and some of its offshoots like dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT. Other evidence-based methods include the use of psychotherapy and medication to treat certain co-occurring mental health issues. Many treatment centers have their own favorite therapies and you may want to research those methods, especially if they appear central to the program.

Qualified staff

The staff is really what makes all the difference in addiction treatment. The best program in the world won’t do much good if you don’t have qualified, experienced people to carry it out. There should be a doctor on staff who is board certified in addiction medicine. You also want to see staff members with master’s degrees or PhDs. 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. It’s also important a treatment center have a multidisciplinary team that can treat the different aspects of addiction, since addiction is often complicated by psychological and medical factors.

Clean, comfortable facilities

A treatment center doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective. In fact, some studies have found that more modest facilities can actually be more effective and your money goes to treatment rather than frills. However, some facilities are overly spartan or shabby, which is not a good sign either. Aim for somewhere in the middle.

Covered by insurance

Quality inpatient treatment can be expensive and it helps to have at insurance cover at least part of it. However, even if cost isn’t an issue for you, it’s a good idea to see whether insurers work with a treatment center. Insurers want to know their money is being used well so they often track treatment outcomes. If no insurance company works with a treatment center, it’s a good idea to find out why.

Good treatment outcomes

Ask about treatment outcomes and, just as importantly, ask how they measure outcomes. Many centers will boast about an “87 percent success rate,” for example, but you want to know what they consider success and how they get their data. If an 87 percent success rate means 87 percent of clients remain sober while in residence, that’s not particularly impressive, but if 87 percent remain sober after a year according to third party research, that’s more encouraging.

Quality aftercare

Another sign of a quality program is their attention to aftercare. Inpatient treatment is really only the beginning of recovery. It’s irrational to think you can fix addiction in a month, or even three months, and send the client on her way. What’s more, many people find the transition from the structured, supportive environment of treatment to the unpredictability of daily life difficult to manage. Good treatment programs will recognize this and offer follow-up support such as outpatient or remote counseling, alumni events, and other programs to make the transition easier. They will also follow up regularly with clients to find out how they’re doing–what’s going well, what they continue to struggle with, and so on–so they can continually improve their treatment methods.

Patrick Hart Consultants helps customize wrap-around treatment and transitional care programs for families seeking support for recovery from addiction, eating disorders, and other mental health conditions. Working with some of the country’s most trusted and renowned treatment programs, our team strives to ensure successful, stress-free recovery for the whole family. We coordinate with every member of a loved one’s treatment team to provide communication, progress, and healing. For more information on our services, call us today: (844) 262-7970

AUTHOR: Patrick Hart Consultants