Individuals impacted by substance abuse often face a dilemma when seeking treatment: practical convenience versus quality. Whether they\’re examining treatment options for themselves or a loved one, they face an enormous amount of pressure to select a treatment option due to the time-sensitive nature of addiction. Very often, this mentality leads to a hasty choice which can land addiction sufferers in a program that is ill-equipped to address their care needs, causing them to relapse as a result.
Cost and geographical location are also common determining factors in selecting a treatment facility. While these practical concerns certainly play an important role in this decision, they should not be the defining criteria. The primary objective of any attempt at recovery should be the definitive and sustained recovery of the patient. To that end, we have compiled a list of the crucial elements to look for when faced with this important choice.
1: Licensing and Credentials
A quality addiction treatment facility will be licensed by a reputable and established healthcare organization, including the state in which it operates. Ideally, the facility will also be certified by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). The Joint Commission adopts stringent criteria in awarding behavioral health certification to treatment organizations. They began accrediting addiction care facilities in 1972 and currently certify over 15,000 organizations and programs in the United States.
Joint Commission accreditation means that the facility has been vetted and approved by an established and trustworthy body, and that the organization has satisfied established performance objectives in order to be certified. The standards cover a broad range of care areas, from quality of treatment and emergency management to infection control and patient safety to human resources management. In order to ascertain whether or not a facility has been accredited, look for the JCAHO seal on their website.
2: Doctors on Staff
Addiction is very much a medical condition, yet many facilities don\’t actually offer doctors on premises. Having a medical doctor on staff that is trained in addiction care can drastically reduce the risk of unforeseen emergencies and help patients to more easily manage their withdrawal symptoms. Doctors can also provide proper medication-assisted treatment for patients who qualify, and they oversee the progress of their care. In order to gauge the level of medical care available at a facility, it\’s best to speak with an admissions representative to find out the number of doctors they have on staff. Many facilities find it too costly to keep a doctor in house.
3: Onsite Medical Detox
This factor is linked closely with the importance of having experienced and qualified medical personnel onsite. The facility you choose should offer medical detoxification and withdrawal management as part of their comprehensive care plan. Many facilities don\’t have the room or staff to offer detox onsite, and wind up sourcing patients to a separate facility, offering little opportunity for oversight and a heightened potential for disruption in patients\’ treatment. Patients that have the benefit of all-inclusive treatment have a better opportunity to get comfortable in their program and build trust with the staff, which can mean fewer opportunities for premature exit and relapse.
Avoid facilities that offer rapid or self-detox as a solution to withdrawal, as this method can have dangerous and even deadly consequences.
4: Customized Care Programs
The circumstances that lead to addiction are as diverse as the patients themselves. A one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach to treatment will not translate to success for the patient. A quality facility will have the resources and personnel at their disposal to tailor their treatment approach to each individual, starting with a thorough evaluation and patient history. The facility will then design a care program consisting of evidence-based therapies from which they feel the patient will most benefit. It\’s helpful to explore programs with a diversity of treatment therapies and life-skills resources that allow you or your loved one to learn to regain independence while in a treatment program.
5: Family Involvement
Transitioning back into the family dynamic can be a jarring and difficult experience. Many patients directly attribute their relapse to their inability to reconnect with their family after they return from their residential program. For this reason, it\’s important to choose a facility that offers the patient a chance to reconnect with their family while in treatment. This helps to lay the foundation for a healthy family dynamic in which expectations are established and boundaries are respected. Patients should be able to develop a plan for recovery while in treatment so that they can more easily rejoin their households and successfully maintain their recovery.
Too many facilities discharge their patients without a comprehensive plan to follow in order to maintain recovery.
Too many facilities discharge their patients without a comprehensive plan to follow in order to maintain recovery. As a result, they get overwhelmed by the challenges of their new sobriety and often relapse. The facility you choose for yourself or your loved one should offer a clearly defined plan of action for patients to follow upon their discharge. This plan should include everything from ways to manage recovery-related stress to tips on how to avoid potentially toxic situations and interactions, referral to support groups and relapse prevention. It\’s also important that patients have a connection to their therapists during their more vulnerable periods. It\’s best to choose a facility that offers regular patient follow-up by doctors to verify patients\’ post-treatment progress.
It\’s advisable to avoid facilities that boast outlandish success rates, such as 90 or even 100%. We urge those looking for substance abuse treatment for themselves or a loved one to consult this list prior to making any choice; this is one of the most important decisions a person is likely to make. Time spent in the wrong treatment facility can cause an addict to form a negative opinion of the professional treatment process as a whole.
7: Capable and Compassionate Support Staff
When a patient enters addiction care, they are perhaps more vulnerable than they\’re ever likely to be in their life. Many find treatment to be difficult and unmanageable due to seemingly minor factors like environment, level of attention and competency of the nursing staff. Some treatment centers are so overwhelmed and lacking in staff and resources that they can\’t help but ignore patients\’ needs for long periods of time, or worse, react harshly toward patient complaints out of frustration. When researching a facility, be sure to enquire about the size and credentials of the facility\’s nursing and support staff so you know that you or your loved will be well taken care of. During the extreme agitation of the initial days of recovery, every little detail helps in keeping patients motivated toward treatment.