By Dan Marzullo
Making the choice get help for drug or alcohol addiction, or an eating disorder, or any number of behavioral health issues such as depression or anxiety, is a life-changing event. But where to find that help? A Google search of ‘addiction treatment’ will return a virtual flood of ads about facilities, methods and services that seem like viable choices. But deciding between such a wide range of treatment styles and facilities across the country can be mind-boggling. How does one choose treatment that is effective and safe? Who should you trust?
Separate the Good from the Bad
When it comes to addiction treatment, there are scary stories in the media about shady facility operators, crooked billing schemes, unqualified treatment gurus. There are unethical people who are not qualified to treat patients, and who are raking in money on the backs of very sick people. But such unethical establishments are the exception and not the rule. Don’t despair – there is a path to finding good treatment.
Behavioral health treatment isn’t new, and it is getting better all the time. New scientific discoveries have provided insight into how the addicted brain works, as well as the mechanisms involved in many mental disorders. As a result, there are many effective treatments – new medications, innovative therapeutic approaches – that can you help you or your loved one succeed on the path to recovery.
Tips for Choosing
Track Record. First and foremost, consider a center’s credibility. Look for details such as how long the center has been in operation. Check for certain accreditations and state licenses that a facility has obtained. (For example, the Joint Commission objectively evaluates health care organizations on their performance, so JC approval is a good sign. Be sure facilities have the proper state and local licensing.) Understanding industry licenses and certifications can help you steer clear of treatment centers that are involved in illegal activities or unethical practices.
Type of Therapy Patient/Needs. Treatment styles and recovery methods are another key consideration; there is more than one path to health and recovery. Be sure there is a wide range of options for counseling, detoxification, chemical and natural therapy methods to choose from. Prospective patients might like the idea of combining yoga and art therapy with more traditional approaches, such as group therapy and one-on-one counseling. Consider the length of time that the program entails, and if it includes post-treatment recovery resources that help a patient assimilate back into everyday life.
Other considerations include each individual patient’s needs. According to a Narconon International article, a person who’s struggled with substance issues may need extra support
with life skills, like managing emotions and finances in a healthy, responsible way. In that case, success might mean attending weekly therapy meetings, or becoming gainfully employed. Often family therapy might be needed if the addiction and other problems have caused divisions and damage to familial relationships. The effects of drugs and alcohol may have caused actual damage to the brain and how it functions; in some cases, there are exercises and strategies for dealing with such deficits. Taking care of these types of issues during treatment can help patients heal on many levels, and prepare them for their lives after treatment.
Length of Stay. There are short- and long-term treatment programs. The most common length for a rehabilitation program is 28 days. But sometimes, this is not long enough to reverse the physical and mental damage that a battle with substance addiction can cause. Be sure the length of stay can be adjusted as needed.
Consult Various Sources. To help you choose a trustworthy and ethical treatment center, talk to a trusted family physician, therapist, clinician or a knowledgeable community member for recommendations. Check established government health agencies, for example, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Every year, SAMHA publishes the National Directory of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment Facilities, a national directory of treatment facilities that includes treatment facilities that are (1) licensed, certified, or otherwise approved for inclusion in the Directory by their State substance abuse agencies, and (2) provided their data about their programs on the annual National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS). All government and private facilities in this directory are approved by state substance abuse agencies, so it’s a great resource for finding credible and trustworthy programs.
Another good resource is too look for Harvard Medical School Affiliate’s McLean Hospital eBasis participation. This resource is unique because McLean gathers information every three months from 50 treatment facilities nationwide and creates an unbiased assessment of how the treatment went over the last quarter. What is unique about this method is that the information is based on patients’ feedback about their treatment.
Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT)
Although it may seem counter-intuitive to prescribe drugs to a substance user, many drugs actually help patients to recover. Ask a potential rehab service what medications they prescribe and why so you and your loved one understand why there may be a need for prescription medications. When used correctly, MAT can be instrumental in helping patients to succeed.
Patient Motivation and Comfort
The next step in finding the right treatment center is researching a program’s methods and practices. As explained by Alexandre Laudet, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Study of Addictions and Recovery (C-Star), “The person has to feel that continuing to come to this program is going to be to their benefit,” Dr. Laudet says. Factors that influence patient comfortable include whether friends or family are allowed to visit, and/or if the family participate in counseling meetings. Other amenities such as meeting patient dietary requirements (e.g., vegetarian, kosher) may matter, in addition to amenities such as fitness programs or massage therapy.
Remember, there is a facility that is right for you or your loved one, so don’t delay. Get treatment, save a life, plan for a better tomorrow. Addiction can, and must be, treated. For more tips and information on choosing the right treatment, listen to this week’s edition of In Your Right Mind on KABC; the topic is How to Choose the Right Treatment Facility.
About Sovereign Health
Sovereign Health is a national leader in the treatment of addiction, mental illness, and co-occurring behavioral health disorders. Using evidenced-based medicine and measurement-based care, we provide the highest standard of care from assessment to discharge through our highly experienced, professionally licensed staff. We specialize in the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction, trauma, mental illness, eating disorders and other conditions. We accept most major insurance plans and financing is also available through MyTreatmentLender.com. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call our 24/7 helpline today.