What Should a Person Consider When Choosing a Drug Treatment Program?
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Francine Mends, MD on May 6, 2020
Choosing the right rehab can be overwhelming. As of 2020, there are over 14,000 drug treatment programs in the United States. So which one is right for you? Read below to see what you should consider when choosing a drug treatment program.
Do I Need to Go Detox?
All drugs may cause psychological addiction. This is hard enough to treat, but some may also cause physical addiction. That means that your body becomes accustomed to the drug and “needs” it to function. This can seriously complicate your recovery process.
If you stop using certain drugs cold turkey, then you may suffer serious withdrawals. In certain cases, this may even be fatal. There are three primary drugs that may require detox:
- Alcohol – This is the most widely abused drug in the United States. Physical addiction is not limited to just hard liquor–it can also include milder alcohol like beer or wine.
- Benzodiazepines – Also known as “benzos”, these are anti-anxiety medications like Xanax, Valium, or Ativan.
- Opioids – This includes prescription painkillers like Vicodin, Percocet, Roxicet or Oxycontin as well as heroin or fentanyl.
Of these three, alcohol and benzos have the most dangerous withdrawal symptoms. These may include seizures and even death. If you’re currently addicted to or abusing any one of these three drugs, then you need to seriously consider going to a detox program. This process usually lasts about a week and is done under the supervision of trained clinicians.
In order to help you determine your best course of action, it’s a good idea to get an assessment first. You should see a:
- Physician certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine
- Licensed clinical social worker (some counties provide this service for free)
- Psychiatrist or psychologist with experience treating substance use disorder
Any of these addiction experts can give you unbiased and fully confidential input on what you should do. But you have to be honest with them and disclose what kinds of drugs you’re using and how often. That way they can make an accurate assessment to help you.
Inpatient or Outpatient?
There are two basic types of drug treatment centers:
- Inpatient – This is where you live at the center. Most programs are between 30 and 90 days, although there are some that may last from 6 to 12 months.
- Outpatient – This is where you visit a center for treatment while living on your own. This usually consists of several hours per day, 5 to 6 days a week.
Inpatient rehab is usually reserved for people with more serious conditions. For many users, their addictions have spiraled so far out of control that they are effectively homeless or destitute. In these situations, inpatient is frequently the only option they have. In these types of programs, the patient has to focus exclusively on recovery.
Outpatient rehab may work for some people. This is usually for situations in which the addiction has not completely overtaken the person’s life. With outpatient rehab, it’s still possible to continue a semi-normal way of life, including holding down a job or interacting with friends and family.
You’ll have to decide which program is best for you. Remember, you have to be honest with yourself!
What Kind of Treatment Model Does the Program Have?
There are all kinds of drug treatment programs. Most of them will make unrealistic promises about success rates, but in recovery, there are no guarantees. A person will only get better if they want to get better.
Choosing the right rehab means having the right tools to succeed. Most addicts suffer from underlying mental health issues. These can include anxiety, depression, trauma, or other conditions. The best rehabs will also treat these additional issues. This is known as a “dual-diagnosis” center.
Effective dual-diagnosis centers will have:
- Accredited counselors who are trained to address both addiction and underlying issues.
- The ability to dispense psychiatric medication (if necessary).
- Group sessions usually based around “cognitive behavioral therapy” (CBT).
Additionally, an effective rehab should work with some form of the 12 Steps. These are part of programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or Cocaine Anonymous (CA). These groups focus on recovering addicts helping newcomers. Addiction is a profoundly lonely condition, so working with other addicts is both inspiring and helpful. Plus, the 12 Step program is still the most consistently effective drug treatment paradigm.
A Luxury Rehab Is Not Necessarily Better
The cost of a drug treatment program can vary wildly. They range anywhere from being free to tens of thousands of dollars a month. The market breaks down as follows:
- Free programs – These are usually run by the county or a program like the Salvation Army.
- Traditional inpatient programs – These will range from a few thousand dollars to about $20,000 a month.
- Mid-range programs – The price for these is anywhere from $25,000 to $35,000 a month.
- Luxury rehabs – These can cost a staggering $50,000 to $75,000 a month.
Many people will assume that the high-end, resort-like programs are the best. However, there is no empirical evidence to suggest that these centers are any more successful than free drug treatment programs.
On the other hand, there is considerable evidence suggesting that a longer rehab stay is more effective. A long rehab stay may be necessary for some. If the price tag is too great, then most people will be unable to afford anything more than one or two months. This is assuming that health insurance will foot part of the bill.
For example, Salvation Army programs run a minimum of six months. For patients with no financial means, this may be the best option.
Ask Yourself These Questions
When choosing a drug treatment program, make sure you ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I need to undergo detox?
- Should I go to an inpatient or outpatient program?
- How long should I stay?
- Do I want to attend a faith-based program?
- How much does the program cost? Do they take health insurance?
- Is the program accredited and what are the credentials of the staff?
- Are they a dual-diagnosis center? Can they treat my underlying issues?
- Do they provide follow-up care?
- Do they adhere to the 12 Steps? Will they take me to AA, NA, or CA meetings?
- Is there a long waiting list?
- How did I feel when I called or visited the facility?
These questions can help narrow down the right treatment program for you and the treatment center that best meets some of your criteria. Search through our drug rehab directory today and use our filters to narrow down and find a drug treatment program. Also, all of our listings are CARF and JCAHO approved. Learn more about the two in our Picking a Rehab page.
Don’t try to fight your addiction alone! Look around for the right program and start your new, clean life today.
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