Choosing an Addiction Treatment Center

Choosing a drug or alcohol rehab center for yourself or for a loved one can be an overwhelming and difficult process. Unfortunately, with the rise of the opioid epidemic, the addiction treatment field has seen an influx in deceptive marketing and unethical practices by drug rehab “providers” whose only concern appears to be monetary gain. This leaves many consumers confused and distrustful about where and how to find effective treatment options.

Today, more than ever, consumers need to know what to look for in a rehab center. As you research treatment centers and speak with rehab providers, here are important questions to ask and topics to cover.

Accreditation, Licensing and Certifications

Reputable drug rehab centers are accredited by The Joint Commission or the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF®). Both the Joint Commission and CARF are independent, nonprofit organizations that base accreditation on industry performance standards and demonstrated results, quality and value. State licensing is not the same as accreditation given the fact that states vary widely in their licensing requirements.

In addition, drug rehab centers need to be certified in order to advertise their programs and services on Google and Facebook via a third-party provider called LegitScript. This certification ensures that, through a rigorous vetting process, only legitimate, quality treatment centers can advertise their services on these channels. It’s a process that provides a level of protection for the consumer.

It’s not always obvious which rehab centers are ethical or unethical, so be cautious when researching if you find a multitude of negative news stories about a facility.

Clinical Staff Credentials and Licenses

Credentials and licenses indicate whether the individuals who provide drug rehab programming and services meet nationally recognized standards for professional practice. If clinical staff are not licensed or accredited, they may not have the training and experience needed to provide the most effective care. Specific credentials held by addiction treatment professionals may include LADC (Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor), LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), CAC (Certified Addictions Counselor) or CCDP (Certified Co-occurring Disorders Counselor).

Multidisciplinary Treatment Team

The highest quality inpatient substance abuse treatment programs involve a multidisciplinary care team in order to address all aspects of the disease—mind, body and spirit. This means your rehab program should include a mix of professionals who work together to create an individualized treatment plan. All team members should be licensed to practice in their particular discipline. Be wary if one staff member wears many hats. A multidisciplinary treatment team typically consists of:

  • Chemical dependency counselor
  • Medical doctor
  • Nurse
  • Psychiatrist
  • Psychologist
  • Nutritionist
  • Wellness specialist
  • Spiritual care counselor

Use of Evidence-based Practices

The most effective treatment programs rely on evidence-based practices that have been proven through science-based research. Examples of evidence-based practices include Twelve-Step Facilitation, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Medication-assisted Therapies and other treatment models.

Mental Health Services

Many people who struggle with alcohol or drug addiction also have a co-occurring mental health condition such as anxiety or depression. In order to provide the right treatment, an accurate dual diagnosis is needed. For patients with a dual diagnosis, the most promising treatment incorporates care for addiction and the co-occurring mental health disorder at the same time. If an addiction treatment program doesn’t provide mental health services, be sure to ask how these services are coordinated with other providers in the community.

Treatment Success Rate/Outcomes

Too often, treatment outcomes are not measured by rehab providers—or they’re measured inconsistently. Even the definition of treatment “success” can be different among providers. Be wary of rehab facilities who claim to have “the cure” or 100% success rates. If rehab success rates are quoted, the data should be collected using research-based methods or be published in peer-reviewed journals.


Treatment for substance abuse can be expensive, so look for rehab facilities that are in-network with your insurance. Being in-network also means the program has met the quality standards of the insurance companies. Some treatment providers will say they “work with your insurance” company, but that doesn’t mean they’re in-network. If in doubt, check with your insurance provider.

Medical Detox or Medication-assisted Therapies

Medical detoxification services can be provided by your hospital or health care clinic before you enter a treatment program, but going through medical detox on site allows you to begin the rehab process at the same time. The medical staff of a detox unit should include both nurses and physicians who have expertise in easing the discomfort of alcohol or drug withdrawal and reducing drug cravings. Ongoing monitoring of your physical health is an important part of your recovery process.

Specialized Programs

Quality treatment providers do not take a cookie-cutter approach to care. It’s important to find rehab programs where care is individualized and tailored, whether that means providing gender-specific programs, targeted treatment for teens, young adults or other specific populations, or other types of specialized rehab. Many issues discussed during rehab can be difficult to have when in mixed groups.

Rehab Program Length

The length of time spent in treatment is best determined by your progress rather than a specified number of days. Some substance abuse programs give an estimated time frame, but if progress isn’t made during that period, the length of time in treatment could be extended. Look for programs that provide multiple levels of rehab so that, as progress is made, you can step into a less-intense level of care.

Post-treatment Recovery Support

Addiction treatment typically involves a high level of clinical care and support. When drug rehab ends and you’re on your own, it’s important to have a support system in place to help prevent the risk of relapse. Quality treatment centers offer a variety of post-treatment options including phone-based coaching, apps to build and strengthen recovery, continuing care groups and other resources and support.

Family Support

Addiction is often referred to as a family disease because it’s a condition that affects the entire family. Families need to heal and recover from addiction, too, by learning to work through the chaos they’ve experienced, set healthy boundaries and build trust in relationships. Treatment patients tend to have better recovery rates when the whole family is educated about addiction and involved in the recovery process.

The Test of Time

With the passing of the Affordable Care Act, more Americans have access to health insurance to help cover the cost of drug rehab. While this is great news for people who need treatment but were unable to access care in the past, there’s been a rush of companies eager to get into the addiction treatment business. Most rehab programs provide quality care, but do your research and remember the test of time: treatment providers who’ve been around for a long time have established their credibility.

What Else Should I Know?

Depending on your specific needs and situation, there are a multitude of additional questions to ask treatment providers when you are trying to select the right drug rehab center for yourself or a loved one. Be sure to read reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook and other sources of consumer feedback.

Conduct your own web search to find more information about specific drug rehab centers. Here is a list of questions to assist in your research:

  1. What type of accreditation or licensing does your facility have?
  2. What credentials or licenses does the clinical staff hold?
  3. Is treatment done by a multidisciplinary team?
  4. What is the patient-to-counselor ratio?
  5. Do you use evidence-based practices?
  6. Do you have gender-specific programs?
  7. How successful is your treatment program?
  8. Are you in-network with my insurance?
  9. Do you provide mental health services?
  10. Do you offer medical detox or other medication-assisted therapies?
  11. Do you offer treatment specific to teens, young adults, older adults or other populations? (as it applies to your situation)
  12. How long does the program last?
  13. What kind of post-treatment support do you provide?
  14. Do you offer family support?
  15. How long have you been providing addiction treatment?

Addiction treatment marks the beginning of a new way of living. The insights you gain and the changes you make during rehab will become the foundation for your recovery throughout the challenges life brings. Keep this in mind as you choose a treatment center. It will help you determine a good fit and identify the best treatment approach for build a solid foundation for lifelong recovery.

Learn more about Hazelden Betty Ford, the efforts we’ve taken to become a premier addiction treatment center of choice, and how we can help you reclaim your health and your life from addiction.

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