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Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment: What You Should
Be Asking When Choosing a Treatment Center

Deciding on how to choose a drug or alcohol rehab center can seem daunting. Where do you start? What should you be looking for? What kind of questions should you be asking? Hopefully I can make this process a bit easier for you by providing you with a few guidelines ...

Try and Get a Recommendation

When deciding on an addiction treatment facility, your starting point should always be to try and have someone you know or trust recommend one (or even a couple) to you.

You might know someone who has personally been to a particular treatment center - or at least who knows someone that has – that might be happy to recommend a place.

Alternatively, ask your counsellor or Doctor to recommend one or two. They will more than likely have referred a number of patients to appropriate treatment facilities and will no doubt be able to do the same for you.

The way it happened in my case, is that I went to see an Addictions Counsellor and she advised me that I should actually go to an in-patient treatment facility, and then gave me the details of 3 different addiction treatment centers varying in cost, treatment length, type etc. so that I had a range to investigate and choose from.

Cost and Location

Like most things in life, drug rehab programs vary greatly in cost and services etc. provided. So you need to figure out what you can afford.

Start off by checking what your medical insurance covers towards these things. I was lucky – in my case, the medical insurance I had covered the majority of the cost to go to a very nice, high quality treatment facility.

A few years later however – when trying to get my Mother into the same center, her medical insurance for some reason didn’t cover anything. However they did say they would consider applications on an individual basis if one provided a motivating letter with certain supporting documentation they wanted.

So I wrote the motivating letter and got our family Doctor to do one as well, submitted everything they asked for – and they agreed to pay half the cost of the treatment.

So we gladly accepted their offer – and luckily my sister had some money invested that wasn’t really doing much for her anyway – so she was happy to cash that in and pay the balance.

No one in my family has ever had a lot of money – we were just determined to make it happen. Where there’s a will there’s a way!

So coming back to my original point - Addiction Treatment facilities vary in cost. You will find one’s that are partly government subsidised, some may even be free – so you need to do your research and try and narrow your list down to those that fit your budget. A good addiction counsellor or doctor that specialises in addiction should be able to give you names of a few different ones.

Then there is the location to consider. Because addiction is something that affects the whole family - most treatment programs like to involve all family members.

So chances are that if you’re a family member – you’ll be asked to attend certain days especially created for you. Living millions of miles away then naturally won’t be very helpful.

Bare that in mind – because the more involved you are – the more it will help you in understanding and dealing with everything that has happened, as well as equip you to support the person in recovery more successfully going forward.


Be sure to check that the treatment for drug or alcohol addiction facility you’re considering is properly accredited. It’s easy for anyone to put a sign up on their door and call themselves a rehabilitation center.

That doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing or are any good. A good addiction treatment program will be properly accredited. JCAHO is the accreditation most recognised in the US and EATA is a widely respected accreditation in the UK and Europe.

So find out what the most widely respected and recognised form of accreditation is in your country – and then be sure to check that any drug and alcohol treatment program that you’re considering has that.

Treatment Philosophy

Find out what the addiction treatment philosophies are for the centers you’re considering. Does the program follow a 12-step model, which is generally the most popular and recognised?

I tend to recommend 12-step programs above all others – because in essence it’s a spiritual (note, I didn't say religious) program which is I think vitally important in helping you overcome an addiction – plus it provides you with a step by step blueprint to follow once you leave treatment, which is especially important in the early stages.

And I believe it’s critical to have support and a pathway to follow once you leave treatment because that’s when your new found sobriety will really be put to the test.

Having said that though – some people simply will not consider anything 12-step related – and if that’s you then you need to find an alternative philosophy. My view on that is - as long as it has a spiritual focus and provides you with a support/self-help program for once you leave, it’s worth giving it a try.

Admission Process

It’s important that you find out what the admission process for the addiction treatment facility you’re considering entails. Check on things like waiting lists, whether one has to go for an initial assessment, the range and qualifications of staff, how many counsellors per resident, visiting times etc. etc.

You might also want to consider a drug treatment program that specialises in a certain type of addiction or only deals with a certain age group. You get treatment programs that deal only with teenagers for example or focus only on cocaine addiction.

My feeling on that is that at the end of the day, addiction is in essence the same, irrespective of the kind of substance you’re addicted to, so it doesn’t really matter that you go to a specialist facility because addiction is essentially treated the same irrespective of your drug of choice.

Be Sure to Visit

Nothing beats actually going to a place and getting a sense of it. You’ll know pretty soon whether the place feels right to you. Trust your intuition once all the above points tick the necessary boxes.

Speaking to staff and getting a feel for the facilities, will also help answer any remaining questions you have and so ensure you’re making the correct decision for you.

The bottom line is - there is no exact science when it comes to choosing a drug or alcohol addiction treatment facility for you. Find our your options, do your research thoroughly and then your inuition will no doubt guide you to what is best for you.

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