I have been in the treatment industry for 5 years now and one thing I have learned is that like most things, when looking into treatment options you are going to find both good and bad. I am writing this post so that you know what to look out for when deciding on treatment and how to find the program that is right for you or your loved one. The following are a list of things to look for and to ask yourself.
What Life Skills do you teach the individual?
This is number one on my list for a reason. Any inpatient treatment center can lock someone in their facility for 30 days and force an addict to abstain for a month. That can help in the beginning, but what about when the doors are unlocked and they have to go out into the real world? There has to be a focus on practical application and how to live a sober life outside of the safe space that inpatient treatment creates. It’s important to look for a program that addresses the following issues – how to get a job, how to be accountable/responsible, how to budget your finances, how to communicate effectively, how to keep yourself and your personal areas clean etc… Things that may seem basic to some, can be a challenge and feel strange to an addict who has neglected these areas of their life. Any treatment program worth considering will understand how crucial this is, and not only teach these life skills, but create opportunities for them to be practiced often.
Avoid unrealistic promises and statistics
The truth is that there is no “one size fits all cure for addiction.” In fact, there is no cure at all. Statistics on success have little to no real value in this industry as far as I can tell. Each individual has the sole responsibility to gain and maintain knowledge about themselves and take the actions required to change their own life. Every person is responsible for their own recovery and happiness. A treatment program is responsible for equipping clients with life skills, providing guidance as a recovering addict carves a new path for themselves, and to hold clients to a higher standard than they have held themselves to in the past. If a program claims, “We have a 90% success rate!” they are selling you, not guiding you. Do your homework and remember that while there are no guarantees, there are endless possibilities for someone who commits to their recovery.
Make sure you understand features and benefits of the program.
- What do they really offer? (Request a full program overview)
- Do they teach about nutrition? (Do they talk about more than just mental health? A healthy diet and lifestyle makes a huge difference!)
- What are their therapy modalities? (What approaches do they use? What is the background and skill set of the Therapists and Staff?)
- Who are the owners and to what extent do they play a role in this facility? (If you can’t get the owner on the phone, or if you’re told you or your loved one will likely not meet them, I strongly recommend you look for another facility. You want access to the people in charge of treatment.)
- How long is the program? (It varies, but in my experience it takes a minimum of 90 days to really impact someone’s chances of lasting recovery!)
- How much does it cost? (Every program is different. You want to choose a State licensed treatment center, but they are not the most low-cost option. However, Health insurance can greatly reduce or eliminate this financial obligation!)
- What are the refund policies if your loved one leaves early? (Do not put any money on the line without having a clear understanding of a program’s refund policies!)
- To what extent is the family dynamic addressed? (This is a major component of long-term success after treatment.)
- To what extent and how is the family involved? (How specifically does the program plan to help heal damage that addiction creates to the family system?)
- What if my loved one relapses? (If a program tells you they will kick them out right away, or there is no consequence here…do yourself a favor and find another facility. This should be handled on a case-by-case basis as each addict and each situation is unique.)
- What is your aftercare strategy? (This is crucial to lasting sobriety! What exactly happens after treatment? How long does the program stay involved? Do they help facilitate short and long term goal planning for once treatment is over? What after care options do they offer and how do they go about implementing these?)
Get all this down and look at it. Make sure you’re going into this armed with the facts and with both eyes open.
*This blog post was authored by Lawrence Briggs, Director of Operations at Pathfinders Recovery Center. Ph: 480.320.0752