You know your child is past recreational use. Their drug habit is serious. Life is becoming unmanageable not only for them, but now for you, too. Please, follow my advice and have them tested so you know for sure just how serious the use has become. Once you’ve ordered an exact drug test, figured out that your child is on drugs, and are ready to move the process along to save your child from the downward spiral they are on (or if you are an addict seeking a change for yourself), it’s time to get all your proverbial ducks in a row. They include preparing a course of action, finding a local addiction physician, finding a therapist, creating a detox plan, and most importantly, finding the proper drug treatment facility.
Choosing a drug treatment center is an important process. Once you start searching for a place for you or your loved one to go to rehab, there is a delicate dance involved in making sure you’re getting the right place where you will not only see results but feel good and comfortable throughout the process. Odds are the search will begin online. The web is saturated with actual treatment centers and with placement services. The centers at the top of the Google list are the larger ones, and these may treat you or your child more like cattle, solely due to the huge volume of patients they have. It’s a lot like a good school: the less people in a class, the better the education.
When you call a facility, know that you will be talking to someone in what’s called the Admissions Department. They get paid to get you in their program. So by all means try and bypass them, and request to speak to an actual therapist or member of the clinical team at the program instead.
Here is a list of questions you should always get clear, precise answers to:
1. Do you take my insurance?
First find out if your insurance will cover the stay in treatment. If it’s accepted at one program, it will most likely be accepted at all programs. Let one program run your insurance benefits, and once you’re approved, you can start shopping around. Know the power of having good insurance. When you call the admissions line, this will be what they ask about first. Take notes and ask questions. As with buying a car, never buy the first one. Shop around for what fits best for you.
2. How many beds do you have?
This answer to question will tell you how many people max will be in the program with you or with your loved one.
3. How many people are currently on your census, and what’s your average group size?
This will tell you how busy they are currently. If they have capacity for 100 and there are only 40 people on the census, that is a good thing, but know they can fill up fast.
4. How many clients for each therapist?
The number should be between eight and ten. If a therapist has a large case load, individual treatment may suffer.
5. How many therapists on staff, and what are their backgrounds?
Having options is best. A variety of therapists will provide a better chance of finding one you or your child clicks with. If you do not like your therapist, there will be no real therapy. You want to be able to ask for a new one.
6. What areas do you specialize in outside of drug abuse?
Know what the facility can offer above and beyond drug treatment. There is a great trauma program here in Florida that a number of kids I know with a history of abuse went to after seeing no results from going to two or three rehab programs. They had relapsed multiple times, but after finding this trauma specialist, they have stayed sober ever since. It’s a bonus to go to a facility that offers trauma and aftercare programs as well.
7. Do you have any alumni I can speak with who do not work there?
Talking to outside success stories will give you details about the ins and outs of the program that regular staff won’t tell you. People never give bad references, but I can tell you I have a long list of successful clients that I would let anyone talk to, and the program you select should too.
8. How long have you been in business? Do you have other locations?
I’m not a fan of the big chain programs. I like the comfy Mom & Pop programs; the ones with a good reason for doing what they are doing. A program with a pulse—active in the community with proven results and an all-around good moral compass.
9. What’s the history behind the program?
Find out who the founders/owners are. What’s their story? What got them into this field? Basically, what experience and qualifications do they have to be running the rehab that you or your precious loved one will attend for an extended period of time?
10. Does the program have any accreditation?
There are three major certifications a program can have: CARF, JCAHO, and NCQA. If the center has gone so far as to achieve all of these, they are in the top tier when it comes to professionalism. Again, it’s a matter of client numbers when dealing with these larger facilities, which run the chance of sacrificing personal care of the patient for higher capacity and advanced resources.
These are just some basic qualifiers to ask when choosing a drug treatment center. Everyone will tell you how great their program is, but my final tip to you or your child is that you can leave and go to another treatment center any time. There is ZERO commitment or mandatory length of stay, NO MATTER WHAT THEY TELL YOU. If you’re not happy, find another program and see if there are better results there!
Please reach out to me with any questions or concerns. This is a huge step on the road to sobriety.