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How to choose a safe, effective addiction treatment center

With the opioid addiction epidemic on nearly every doorstep, more people need drug treatment than ever before. How can you make sure you’re choosing a safe rehab clinic that provides effective treatment?

It’s an important question. Choosing a poor quality or fly-by-night treatment facility can be risky. Not only might the treatment be unsuccessful, but you could also be putting yourself or your loved one at risk of neglect, abuse, overdose or even death.

Here are some questions to ask each treatment provider you’re considering, according to the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation:

1. What kind of licensing and accreditation does the program have? California requires most drug treatment facilities to be licensed by the Department of Health Care Services, but make sure their license hasn’t been revoked or suspended. Accreditation by a national program such as The Joint Commission or the National Committee for Quality Assurance is an additional indicator of quality.

2. What licenses and credentials do the clinical staff hold? You should be working directly with clinicians with titles such as licensed alcohol and drug counselor (LADC), licensed professional counselor (LPC), certified addictions counselor (CAC) or certified co-occurring disorders counselor (CCDP).

3. What is the patient-to-counselor ratio? This should be low enough to allow substantial personal attention from the counselors. You can’t afford to be lost in a system.

4. What is the environment like at the treatment center? It should be safe, calm, organized and dignified. Ask if you can tour the facility and talk to current or former patients.

5. What research is there measuring the effectiveness of the program’s treatment methods? An effective program relies on evidence-based methods, and the facility should be actively measuring the effectiveness of their services.

6. Is medical detoxification provided as part of inpatient treatment? Medically supervised detox, including medications to reduce withdrawal symptoms, should be provided. This ensures the patient is medically stable before beginning treatment.

7. Is each patient’s treatment plan individualized? Every person’s journey is unique, and an individual treatment plan should be developed based on their specific addiction history, psychological and social issues, and needs.

8. Is the treatment holistic? Many people benefit from treatment that addresses not only mental and physical health but also spiritual health and wellness.

9. What support is available after treatment? Focused treatment is not enough by itself to sustain recovery. A good treatment program will actively assist patients in finding quality aftercare, such as a Twelve Step program or mutual help group.

10. What help is available for families? Good programs educate families about addiction and recovery and help them learn how to provide healthy support for people in early recovery.

You may also wish to consider a gender-specific program, as research indicates that men and women recover from addiction somewhat differently. A gender-specific program often provides space to discuss highly sensitive, personal issues unique to your gender.

One final consideration may be how “insurance friendly” the facility is. Some facilities not only accept most insurance but have staff dedicated to helping patients navigate the complexities of insurance coverage, such as in-network and out-of-network benefits and preapprovals. If you don’t have adequate insurance, check if the facility offers financial aid to qualifying patients.

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