How to Choose a Treatment Center


How can you tell which treatment center is best for you? With so many to choose from, you want to be sure to pick the one that’s most likely to help you succeed in overcoming your addiction. You don’t want to waste your time or money on a treatment center that’s substandard, inadequate, or simply less effective. You want to feel assured that you will get the best possible care and treatment so that, with the help of the center and its staff, you can conquer the addiction that holds you hostage.

Here are 10 questions to ask before deciding on a treatment center.

“Is the treatment center JACHO and DCF accredited?” JACHO is the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and DCF is the Department of Children and Families, and substance abuse treatment centers are among the facilities they rate and accredit. Only 20 percent of all treatment centers have a JACHO accreditation. When you seek help from one of these accredited facilities, you can be assured that the facility conforms to the highest standards and meets with all JACHO and DCF requirements.
Why settle for anything less?
You can tour a facility you are considering and see if it looks clean, friendly, and welcoming, but you cannot possibly pre-judge the effectiveness of its programs or the extent to which the staff maintains health and safety standards. That’s why it’s good to know that a knowledgeable, impartial organization—JACHO—has examined, passed judgment on, and given its seal of approval to a facility.
“Has the facility’s local Better Business Bureau rated the treatment center, and if so, is the rating at minimum AAA if not better?”
You want to know that the center has not been the subject of consumer complaints and that it meets the high standards of the BBB. While the JACHO rating (see item # 1, above) reflects opinions based on fact-finding by a professional agency, the BBB rating reflects client satisfaction—or lack of it. What do other clients like you have to say about the facility, its staff, its physical site, its overall operation, and its effectiveness? The BBB rating is a reflection of the experiences of fellow consumers.
“How long has the treatment center been in business?”
Has it been around for at least 10 years? A brand-new, shiny-looking facility may seek to impress with appearances, but all the “bells and whistles” in the world can’t make up for a lack of experience. A facility that has been in business for a decade or longer has a proven track record, usually a history of stability, and has had time to refine its programs and learn from its own experience. It also has been in business long enough that if there were problems with ineffective programs or anything about the way it’s run, the BBB (see item # 2, above) would have had plenty of time to hear about it. As well, if a treatment center were substandard or delivered disappointing results, word would get around, and it might be forced to close its doors. A center’s 10-year history is a good indication that the center is well-run and effective.
“Does the treatment center employ licensed therapists, and what degrees do they hold?”
Not every state has stringent licensing requirements. In some states, a center might employ therapists who haven’t been adequately trained and aren’t licensed. What licensing, degrees and other accreditation do the therapists hold in the center you are considering? LCSW and/or MAC are the best choices.
“Does the treatment center balance its serious therapeutic work with fun activities and exercise?”
You can’t work a recovery program 24/7 in unending seriousness without opportunities for fun to provide relaxation and balance out your hard work. Exercise is important, too, both emotionally and physically. It is crucial to make sure that the center you are considering offers fun activities and exercise as well as serious therapeutic activities.
“Is the recovery program based on a solid 12-step approach to overcoming substance abuse?”
The famed 12-step program of which AA’s is the best-known example is a rock-solid, proven approach to helping overcome substance abuse. It is employed in many other programs as well, for dealing with addictions of many types (drugs and overeating, to name two). This tried-and-true methodology is vital to assuring recovery and should be one of the foundation blocks of any recovery center’s program if you want the best chances for a successful outcome.
“Is the recovery center located in a good, safe neighborhood?”
You don’t want to become a de facto prisoner, confined to the building and afraid to even walk the grounds, let alone leave the premises. Yet if the neighborhood the treatment center is located in is sketchy at best, or downright unsafe, you won’t be comfortable leaving the facility for recreational purposes. You may not even feel safe strolling the grounds. Be sure to choose a center where you feel secure and safe.
“Is the staff caring and professional?”
You not only want to know that all the therapeutic staff are properly licensed (see item # 4, above) but, on beyond their simply being licensed, are they professional in their demeanor, attitudes, and approach? And of equal importance, are they warm, caring human beings? You want to feel that the staff members are invested in your well-being and truly care about seeing you get your addiction(s) under control and turn your life around.
“Does the facility have a good reputation both in the industry and in the community?”
Besides having earned JACHO and DCF accreditations (see item # 1, above) and a good rating with the Better Business Bureau (see item # 2, above), how is the facility regarded not only within the industry but in the community where it’s located? What is the “word on the street”? How highly is the treatment center regarded?
“What is the client-to-therapist ratio?”
It is imperative that the client-to-therapist ratio is low, to assure that you get the highest level of care. If a therapist has too high a patient load, he or she cannot give you as much time, as much consideration, as much thought as you would like and need. Be sure that the center you choose does not overburden its therapists with too many clients so that you are assured of good solid help and ongoing attention.[/expand]
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