How to Choose an Addiction Treatment Center

How to Choose an Addiction Treatment Center

There are more than 14,500 treatment centers in the US. Which one is right for you?

If drugs were easy to stop abusing, there would be no need for 12-step programs, rehab facilities, methadone and a host of other treatment options. But the fact is that addiction treatment is a $35 billion a year industry because people need help quitting drugs and alcohol. Drug overdose deaths nearly tripled between 2001 and 2014, and nearly 23 million people needed treatment for drugs in 2013.

A treatment facility may be one way to help end substance abuse for good. But it’s not as simple as walking into the nearest center—or, at least, it shouldn’t be. If you or a loved one are considering entering a treatment center, you’ll need to do your research to find one that’s the right fit.

The medical model of addiction
The American Society of Addiction Medicine in 2011 defined addiction as “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry,” which reflected a changing view of addiction. In the past addiction was viewed as a moral failure, whereas now it is more widely recognized as a disease. This is called the medical model of addiction, and it’s good news for those in recovery. Shaming an addict may drive him or her away from recovery and back into addiction, so a treatment center that follows the medical model will focus on helping the person feel good, not feel bad.

Considering a treatment center
There are more than 14,500 treatment centers in the U.S., so how do you know which one is right for you? Here are some things to consider when you’re trying to choose a treatment center for yourself or a loved one.

How long will you stay? Treatment centers are usually either long-term or short-term residential programs, meaning you live at the center for a prescribed amount of time. Long-term can last from 6 to 12 months, while short-term is usually between three and six weeks. There are also outpatient programs, where you do not stay.

Is the center licensed? Each state has different licensing requirements for substance abuse treatment centers. They usually include needing an operating plan, insurance, credentialed staff, a medical director and various building certificates like ADA compliance and fire code compliance. See your state’s website for more information.  

What are the staff’s backgrounds? The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that there are more than 87,000 substance abuse counselors in the U.S. They include social workers, mental health counselors, physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists and nurses. Detox programs that administer medication should have a medical doctor on-hand, but not all detox programs use medicine or work with a doctor.

How much does it cost? Inpatient treatments can cost from $2,000 to $25,000 or more for a month, and outpatient treatments range from free to $10,000 per program. Most insurance covers substance abuse treatment, but you’ll need to check with your provider to see what facilities are covered. 

What are the success rates? It’s important to note that between 40 and 60 percent of people who successfully treated their substance abuse will have a relapse at some point. But that also means that between 40 and 60 percent will stay clean forever. Talk to staff and former residents and try to find out how many people who went through the center go back to using. Work the treatment center’s program and do your best to stay clean when it’s over.

Medically reviewed in January 2019.

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