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Questions to Ask Before Enrolling in a Program

Providing Trusted, Evidence-Based
Treatment for Three Decades and Counting

If you or a loved one is experiencing addiction, we’re here to help.

When it comes to rebuilding your life after drug or alcohol addiction, the program you choose could make a big difference in your chances of success. But with so many treatment options available to you, how do you know you’re choosing the right treatment center? The program you choose should acknowledge not only your physical need to get clean and healthy but your need to have your psychological issues addressed.

If you have any co-existing medical conditions, mental health concerns or disabilities, the facility should accommodate these, as well.

After you’ve made the decision to enter treatment, you may not be in the best frame of mind to choose a rehab program. Until you go through the detox process and begin rehab, your thinking may still be fuzzy, and you may still have periods of confusion. If you find it hard to ask the right questions, ask a qualified addiction counselor for guidance. Having the support of a compassionate expert can be a valuable gift in the early days of sobriety.

As you explore facilities in your area, you and your counselor, a close friend or family member should ask questions like these:

1. Is Your Facility Licensed and Accredited?

Facilities that offer addiction treatment services must be licensed by the state government agency that oversees these facilities. In the state of California, the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs (ADP) is responsible for licensing rehab programs. The department's Licensing and Certification Division oversees, regulates and licenses addiction counselors as well as recovery facilities. The ADP's role is to make sure that these facilities operate according to the state's health and safety standards. In addition, recovery facilities may be accredited by national or international organizations, like the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

2. Does Your Facility Offer Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment?

Some programs offer only residential recovery services, where clients stay at the facility for the entire duration of their treatment. Others offer partially supervised day services, like counseling, medication therapy, and group meetings, but clients can go home at night and continue to take care of their families or even go to work while they go through rehab. Some facilities offer a combination of services, which allows clients to transition from inpatient treatment to outpatient care once they're ready to graduate to the advanced stages of rehab.

To find out which level of care is right for you, you'll need to talk with a therapist, doctor or intake counselor at a treatment facility. Inpatient rehab isn't necessary for everyone, but if you have medical concerns, a severe mental health condition, a history of withdrawal problems, or a recent pattern of heavy drug use or drinking, an addiction professional may recommend that you undergo detox that is supervised by consulting physicians as well as rehab.

3. How Long Is the Program?

Clinical studies show that the duration of a treatment program can make a difference in your chances of staying sober after rehab. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) advises that the length of treatment is crucial to your recovery and that longer programs have been associated with higher success rates. Treatment needs will vary from one individual to another, but according to the NIDA, programs that last at least 90 days are the most effective at helping you stay abstinent. The longer you spend in treatment, the longer you'll have to reinforce the coping skills and behavioral strategies that will help you avoid a relapse in the future.

4. What Payment Options Do I Have?

When you're looking for a rehab program that may save your life, keep your family together and protect your livelihood, money shouldn't be your first concern. But the fact is that rehab does cost money, and you'll have to find a way to pay for your treatment.

Fortunately, many of the best rehab facilities offer a variety of payment options, including:

  • Self-pay (cash or credit card)
  • Private health insurance
  • Employer-sponsored rehab
  • State or federal government programs (Medicaid or Medicare)
  • Sliding-scale payment options based on your ability to pay

5. What Recovery Services Do You Offer?

These days, there are many different treatment plans available, based on different theories and philosophies of addiction. From holistic recovery plans and spiritually based programs to plans that emphasize cognitive and behavioral modification, addiction treatment has never been so diverse. So how do you know which services you should look for?

Start with the core components of an addiction treatment program:

  • Detoxification (medical or social, depending on your needs)
  • Individual therapy
  • Group counseling
  • Education and counseling for partners, spouses or children
  • Pharmaceutical therapy
  • Behavioral modification therapy
  • Life skills courses, such as vocational counseling or relationship building

In addition to the basics, a program may offer services such as 12-step recovery meetings, nutritional counseling, exercise programs, recreational activities, devotional groups and private meditation.

6. Do You Treat Co-Existing Conditions?

The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that at least half of the people who meet the criteria for mental illness also have a substance use disorder. Even if you're not aware of any mental health conditions in your personal history, the program you choose should offer screening and evaluation for depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD and other common disorders. Many people who are admitted to treatment for drug abuse or alcoholism have been living with an undiagnosed co-existing condition for years. Dual Diagnosis rehab programs offer treatment that gives equal attention to both conditions, so you can achieve a full recovery.

7. Do Your Program's Principles Correspond With My Beliefs?

Most rehab programs are based on certain principles of addiction treatment. Twelve-step rehabilitation plans, for instance, base your treatment on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), a worldwide recovery group that focuses on both the physical and spiritual dimensions of addiction treatment. According to the guidelines of AA, addiction is a disease that can only be treated by surrendering one's will to a higher power. For many people who struggle with addiction, 12-step groups have been a lifeline back to sanity. For others, the spiritual principles of AA are alienating.

Some facilities operate on the philosophy that addiction is not a disease, but a learned behavior that can be treated by consciously changing destructive thought patterns and behaviors. This therapeutic process is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). If you disagree with the disease theory of addiction and you prefer a secular approach to recovery, the program you choose should reflect your beliefs and preferences. A treatment plan that conflicts with your deeply held values probably won't help you achieve long-term sobriety; in fact, you may not even complete the program if you're put off by its philosophical orientation.

8. Do You Have Gender-Specific Programs?

Gender-specific rehabilitation facilities offer a lot of advantages for people in recovery. In a residential treatment center that's dedicated strictly to men or to women, you can concentrate on the components of your program without worrying about social distractions. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes that for women in particular, gender-specific programs have broken down a lot of barriers to treatment, offering female addiction counselors, childcare services and perinatal counseling for pregnant women with substance use disorders.

9. What Kind of Aftercare Support Do You Offer?

Detox and rehab represent a new stage of hope and health in your life, but the work of recovery will continue long after you've graduated from your treatment program. The support that your treatment center provides after you graduate is just as important as the services you receive while you're in rehab.

Aftercare services are often provided on an outpatient basis and may encompass:

  • Ongoing counseling sessions for yourself and your loved ones
  • Medication therapy, if needed, to help you avoid a relapse
  • Self-help group meetings to provide social support
  • Job placement assistance, relationship counseling and legal support
  • Referrals to doctors, therapists, nutritionists, and other personnel who can help you in your recovery journey

If you need more time to transition back to your normal life after rehab, your facility may be able to refer you to a sober living home, where you can be removed from the temptations of drugs and alcohol as you continue with the outpatient phase of rehab.

10. What Should I Expect From Rehab?

This is one question that you'll probably need to answer for yourself. An intake counselor can describe the program, advise you of the costs, give you data on completion rates and tell you about recovery statistics. Your counselor will be able to tell you what to bring to a residential treatment facility, what special services are offered and how long it takes to complete the program. But the final answer to this question — what can I expect? — will depend on your motivation to change.

Motivation to change is one of the single most important factors in the success of rehabilitation. The more dedicated you are to getting sober, and the more time you take to maximize the benefits of your program, the more you'll get from treatment. At Michael's House, we give you the resources and tools you need to create a stable, positive life. Call us today at 760.548.4032 for more information on our offerings.

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