How to Find Quality Substance Abuse Providers and Questions to Ask

By: Lakeview Health Staff
Published: October 15, 2018

How to Find Quality Substance Abuse Providers and Questions to Ask

With more than 14,000 addiction treatment centers in the United States, it’s hard to decipher which will be a good fit from those that aren’t going to appropriately serve your or your loved one’s needs. However, there are some telltale signs you can look for while searching for drug and alcohol treatment. Following you’ll find 15 questions you should ask treatment centers when seeking help. Quality treatment centers will be able to answer these questions with confidence and detail.

15 Questions To Ask When Seeking Addiction Treatment

  1. How long has the program been in business?

Although there are some high-quality treatment centers that have opened in the past few years, the age of the business can offer some insight on business practices. Treatment centers in business for at least five years may have a higher likelihood of remaining open because of the quality care they offer.

  1. Does the program hold accreditation with CARF or The Joint Commission, and are they certified by LegitScript?

Quality addiction treatment centers will be accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) or The Joint Commission (formerly known as JCAHO) – some are accredited by both. In 2018, Google announced its partnership with LegitScript, a verification and monitoring service that online pharmacies utilize, to introduce a new certification process for rehabilitation and addiction treatment facilities. This review process is crucial to legitimizing treatment centers so the public knows which are qualified to provide quality services under the care of experienced professionals. Only those approved through the review process are allowed to advertise on Google and Facebook.

  1. Is the program licensed by the State to treat substance use disorders?

Reputable drug and alcohol facilities will be licensed by the State they are located in. Additionally, they may hold specific certifications such as Opioid Treatment Program from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (through SAMHSA). They may also be participating members of the field trade associations, National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) and/or National Association for Behavioral Healthcare (NABH). These each demonstrate the program is adhering to treatment regulations put in place by governing bodies.

  1. Are there full-time, board-certified medical doctors on staff? How frequently can patients meet with doctors?

Addiction affects all parts of a person, and having a qualified medical professional, preferably board certified, provides individuals with expert care. It’s ideal to hear the program has medical staff on-site at the facility versus the individual needing to be transported to an off-site clinic for medical appointments. Individuals should be able to meet with a doctor as needed. When someone is in a detoxification or inpatient program, they should have consistent medical care, meetings with a doctor daily, and be under nursing supervision 24-hours per day.

  1. Do therapists have a master’s level degree or license? Do they have specialized Substance Use Disorder (SUD) training?

Therapists should hold their master’s degree in social work, psychology, family therapy, or similar psychology-related field. Clinicians that also attained their license is a positive indicator they are well-trained in treating people with mental health and behavioral health issues. Those who are Certified Addiction Professionals (CAP) also have specialized training in addiction.

  1. Does the program use data-informed, evidence-based therapies?

Data-informed practices simply means the program is continuously evaluating the current state of being of their patients. The data is then used to quickly adjust the individual’s treatment plan to ensure it is meeting their unique needs. Whereas Evidence-Based Therapies are the various types of therapy modalities that are scientifically proven and empirically validated to be effective in the treatment of drug and alcohol use disorders. Evidence-Based Therapies include, but are not limited to, motivational interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), or 12-step facilitation.

  1. Does the program incorporate family in the treatment process?

A strong support system is the core of sustained sobriety. The family is often the main support system and should be incorporated into the treatment process.

  1. Are treatment plans individualized for my/my loved one’s specific needs?

Although many treatment centers say they offer individualized care, you may want to dig a little deeper into the specialized services they offer. Programs should be able to talk about what makes them unique, and what they offer in regard to specialty services such as trauma groups, gender-responsive treatment, opioid treatment programs/pain recovery, professionals programs, and others.

  1. Does the program offer dual diagnosis treatment? Can the program treat someone who struggles with addiction and a co-occurring mental health condition?

Dual diagnosis treatment means that in addition to the drug and/or alcohol use, the program will diagnose and treat co-occurring mental health disorders such as trauma, depression, anxiety, PTSD, mood disorders, etc. Without addressing both at the same time, individuals could leave treatment without ever understanding the root cause of their addiction and acquiring coping skills to prevent relapse.

  1. Where do individuals live while in treatment and what level of supervision do they receive?

Where someone lives will vary depending on the type of treatment an individual needs. Detoxification, inpatient, and residential treatment usually include living at the treatment facility. In Partial Hospitalization/Day Treatment or Intensive Outpatient Programs, the individual may reside at a sober living home, their own home, or an off-site residence.

  1. How many individuals share a room?

The number varies from center to center, and the answer provides more information about what to expect. Semi-private (two people per room) is common since it provides peer-to-peer support throughout the treatment process. However, some centers do offer private rooms, while others may have three or more people per room.

  1. How long is the wait to get into treatment?

Unfortunately, waiting lists do exist. However, if the program cannot get you/your loved one into treatment with 48 hours, you may want to move on. Getting help as quickly as possible can offer better long-term results since there is often the immediate motivation to make a positive life change.

  1. Are the detoxification medications FDA approved?

Detoxification is typically an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous circumstance. It’s important the program offers medically-monitored detox and uses FDA approved medications and protocol. Proper medical attention will help individuals get through detox safely and more comfortably.

  1. Can I use insurance to cover the cost of treatment?

Many insurance plans do cover the cost of treatment, whether this is through the in-network or out-of-network benefits. Coverage largely depends on the plan itself, and every plan is different. If you are working with a state-funded insurance like Medicare or Medicaid, there may be restrictions on where you/your loved one can receive treatment. If this is the case, you can contact SAMSHA and they will help guide you on options available in your state.

  1. What type of support is offered after completing the program?

Ideally, you’ll hear the treatment center has a robust aftercare and alumni program/fellowship to connect with after leaving the program. Staying connected with those who completed the same program provides a good network of people sharing a bond through a common experience, and who also understand what someone in recovery encounters in the days and months following treatment. An aftercare coordinator can help you get connected with fellowship groups and/or sober living home to help through the early stages of recovery. Receiving quality addiction treatment is important to long-term sobriety and overall health. A word of caution: if a treatment center guarantees success, be skeptical and ask more questions. It would be nice if there were a guarantee of addiction recovery; however, statistics show 40-60 percent of people relapse. Successful long-term sobriety is more likely when the person is willing and ready to change, they receive appropriate addiction treatment that addresses their whole-self and has a solid support system with family and/or friends as well as peer-to-peer through fellowship and an alumni program. If you do your research and ask the above questions, you’ll find a treatment center with the staff, programs, and services necessary to address your/your loved one’s addiction, mental health issues, and physical health issues. Addressing all three at the same time will help build a solid foundation that long-term, sustained sobriety can be built upon. At Lakeview Health, we know addiction recovery is possible. Our admissions specialists are available to answer questions 24-hours per day, 7-days per week, 365 days per year. We welcome you to reach out if you or a loved one is struggling. Don’t wait to get help. Contact us today.