We know that nobody hopes for their child, parent, spouse, or loved one to suffer from addiction. However, with addiction being a complex, chronic brain disease, we also know that 15%-20% of the population will deal with a substance use disorder (and those numbers are greater for individuals who have a genetic disposition or whom have addiction run in their family.)


Nobody has a manual on how to appropriately navigate a crisis when a family knows their loved one needs treatment or when a loved one finally comes to them seeking help. Even when family members know their loved one needs help, when the time comes to offer it or they ask for it, most people are left overwhelmed and having difficulty navigating the disjointed, fairly confusing options of addiction treatment centers, to say nothing of many of the organizations and facilities that prey upon families in crisis. Education is key. Knowing what to ask is vital in making an informed and appropriate decision.


So, when your loved one needs help, here are some questions to ask potential rehabs and addiction treatment facilities to make sure that they are quality facilities and will operate in the best interest of your loved one:


  • Does the facility have appropriately pre-screening and screening protocols in place? Do those tools and protocols include screening for mental health, other co-occurring conditions, and all social factors? Are the people utilizing these tools appropriately licensed, or are they just individuals in recovery?
  • Is the program appropriately state licensed? Are they nationally accredited? And what levels of care have they been licensed and accredited for? Both of these aren’t necessarily standards of quality, but it helps to know that they have been overseen by an objective outside regulatory agency. Make sure that the levels of care that they are licensed for is what they offer? A program licensed for intensive outpatient should not be accepting patients that meet criteria for a residential.
  • How many staff do they have? What is the staff-to-patient ratio? And are the staff appropriately licensed or credentialled?
  • What is the cost of the program? Every treatment center should be transparent with pricing. Just because a rehab says they are a 30-day program and are in-network with your insurance, does not automatically mean that your loved one will receive 30 days of care with no cost to you. Ask directly what type of out of pocket cost you might be looking at. A quality program should be easily able to explain their costs and the insurance coverage. If the rehab is vague about this, walk away immediately.
  • Do they utilize evidence-based medical and therapeutic practices and approaches?
  • How does the treatment center appropriately treat addiction as a chronic disease? We know that short-term detoxes and 28- or 30-day only programs do not have high success rates, as these are just dealing with the acute stages of the addiction illness. So quality inpatient or residential programs will easily be able to explain what they offer as a continuum of care, whether through their organization or by referrals to less intensive levels of care.
  • Does the program treat co-occurring disorders and other underlying issues that the patient may need? Is the staff at the rehab appropriately educated and licensed to treat these conditions? If they say yes, ask them how available or how many hours they have psychiatric coverage and coverage from doctorate or master’s level mental health therapists.
  • What kind of outside additional recovery support does the program offer?
  • What is the rehab’s clinical philosophy? This is vitally important. A program should be able to easily vocalize what they do, why they do it, and how it is valuable and beneficial in aiding patients find recovery. “Abstinence-based” or “12 Step-based” is not a clinical philosophy.
  • How involved are the patient’s family members and loved ones in the treatment process? Typically, every facility or treatment center will claim that they are, but many families have seen otherwise. Ask them to explain their family engagement and any structured family programming. Ask them “What happens if my loved one revokes their ROI?” as many family members are sold on a rehab’s family program and then are told “I’m sorry, we can’t speak to you, the release of information has been revoked” or it was never signed upon admission. This becomes a clinical issue. A quality facility will be able to explain how they would appropriately approach this type of situation.
  • Ask for recommendations. A program should be able to offer contact information for referring professionals, alumni, and alumni families they have worked with, that would be happy to share with you the experiences they had with a facility


Additionally, don’t necessarily believe online information. All rehabs will look good through their web sites. The internet has become a black hole of unethical treatment center marketing. Google and Facebook online reviews are often manipulated or fake. Please remember, addiction is a difficult disease to treat and the patient population is often resistant. So be wary of any treatment center (especially one that is very new) with 50 or 100 or 150 Google or Facebook reviews that are all positive and glowing. Does that sound like what you think reviews of a treatment experience would sound like? There are decades-old non-profit treatment centers that have helped thousands upon thousands to long-term recovery and they do not have 125 5-star reviews on Facebook or Google. Be cautious.


Again, these are not all safeguards and there is no perfect way to vet facilities. But these upon points will certainly be helpful. So, ask these questions. Do your own research. Ask professionals that work in your area and treat addiction or mental health. Don’t only seek help through the internet. And trust your gut.


If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.

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