If you had a disease that could kill you without an operation, my guess is that you would diligently seek a well-qualified surgeon with an excellent track record in hopes of saving your life.  Why then do people often select a treatment program for drug and alcohol addiction without equal dedication?  While addiction is a powerful disease with the potential to destroy families, careers, reputations and lives, many people base their search on unimportant criteria. All too often a rehab facility is selected based on its nearby location or proximity to a warm beach, rather than its approach & proven ability to help people establish a solid recovery.

Seven questions are listed below that address critical areas of addiction treatment.  Ask yourself these questions while searching for and selecting a rehab facility.  Hopefully they will help you make an important, possibly life-saving decision.

Individual Counseling is Often More Effective than Group Counseling

  1. What is the treatment program approach? Lecturing alone doesn’t work, nor do scare tactics, and there is no “program” that offers a proven cure.  The treatment should seek to understand the issues that drive an individual’s addiction and help them find resolution. It should also provide the understanding and skills that are necessary to live life differently. This includes identifying the risk factors and “triggers” that fuel their addiction and developing strategies to address these in a new and better way.
  2. Does the treatment program have enough one-on-one therapy?  Group therapy can be very useful, and although it is used by most addiction rehabs, it has important limitations.  The personal issues that often fuel addiction – trauma, low self-esteem, grief, resentments, etc. – are usually more effectively addressed on an individual basis.
  3. Does the program identify mental health issues & address these in treatment? Research suggests that approximately 70% of those seeking addiction treatment have mental health issues that need to be considered.  In so many situations, these issues are the “real problem” and addiction is the “symptom.
  4. Do the staff & educators have advanced degrees and demonstrable experience? When a drug and alcohol treatment program recognizes the importance of the mental health issues, they hire staff with the necessary expertise.  Licensing boards are beginning to require that addiction counselors have at least a Master’s degree.
  5. Is there a “holistic” approach that looks at all aspects of a person’s life in defining a path to lasting sobriety? Recovery from addiction requires that life be lived differently.  The sources of stress, relationship conflicts, poor boundaries, emotional dependency issues and the home environments are among the many issues that must be considered in creating a plan for the future.  Recovery requires changes that address the areas of life that must improve so that a person can experience more joy, more passion, more happiness, and more peace.
  6. Is the treatment facility committed to helping build a strong & sustainable plan for recovery? Rehab is but the first step in a life-long journey out of the dark place created by addiction.  The development of a plan for the future is critical.  It must provide the support, change, accountability and professional help necessary to avoid relapse. 
  7. Has the facility thoroughly investigated your insurance coverage and what the financial costs will be if your benefits are denied? Insurance companies do not like paying for addiction treatment and have dozens of clever strategies to avoid responsibility.  Checking the benefits is only the first step.  The important work is the research to determine whether the insurance company has criteria that will prevent the payment of these benefits, or will terminate treatment before it is complete.

Addiction treatment is about saving lives and changing lives.  However, like every industry, it has the “good, the bad, and the ugly.”  Choosing a facility requires dedicated research and resolve to make the best possible decision.

By Michael Campbell


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