Factors Families Should Consider Before Employing A Drug Treatment Program for A Loved One

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What happens in drug rehab matters a lot, which is why we need to carefully select which one we end up enrolling ourselves, or our loved ones into. The first one that pops up may not necessarily be the best one for your situation which means browsing your options is an important part of the process. Unfortunately though, researching inpatient drug treatment programs for yourself or a loved one can lead you down an internet rabbit hole.

We’ve outlined 14 questions that are designed to give you more control over the decision process. Instead of being sold or coerced on the phone, you can use these questions to draw out the most important and relevant information from whichever drug rehab, addiction treatment, or detox facility you are considering. Remember, information is power, and these questions and explanations will equip you with the know-how to find the best rehab match for your unique situation.

1) How long have you been in business? Who is the founder, and who is the current owner? If the founder is no longer the owner, why did they leave?

Asking about the facility’s background is important because you want to choose a rehab that has experience, and also one that is run by a person who genuinely cares. If the founder has left, that doesn’t mean you should automatically rule out the rehab, but you should ask more questions about the new owner. What is their interest? What is their background? If the new owner is equally passionate about recovery, that’s a good sign, but if they are just a business person, you should be cautious.

2) What crimes, if any, in the United States and abroad, have your founder and/or partners been accused and/or convicted of? How many current lawsuits are pending against your center?

This is important information that you should be aware of before putting your time and resources on the line.

3) What is your staff to patient ratio? And how many patients does each primary therapist have on their caseload?

The more staff per patient, the better your odds of having more personalized care.

4) What is your daily rate for month one? Does it change for months 2 or 3?

Financial questions like these are important and ask the facility to clearly respond to you in writing.

5) Do you detox on-site or off-site?

Many small treatment centers operate an on-site detox, which is allowed by law but higher risk, to increase revenue. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recommends caution with rehabs offering on-site detox because these freestanding facilities may or may not be equipped to fully assess and treat complex cases. If the rehab you’re interested in does provide on-site detox, ask about the amount of medical staff on hand, the treatment protocol for yours, or your loved one’s drug of choice, and whether or not there will be help available 24/7. If the addiction is moderate, this may be appropriate.

For alcohol, benzodiazepine and “G” detox, please seek a hospital-based detox as these substances lead to more dangerous withdrawal.

6) What role do interns play in the delivery of clinical services to patients at your program? In regards to your clinical team, what percentage of them are full-time, and per-diem?

Many treatment centers will cut costs by bringing in clinical interns as their “counselors” who are required to “donate” thousands of hours in order to get licensed. While appropriate for a very low or no-cost program, a clinical team builds their wisdom and experience by practicing over years.

7)  Are you an actual treatment center, with a building and staff? or are you a call center fronting for a lead generation company?

Do not sign up for a call center, continue searching and contact treatment centers directly. If you connect online with an unscrupulous phone center the odds of you being “sold” to the highest bidder as a piece of commerce is high. Which makes you wonder; If you are “sold” on the phone and send your loved one to a rehab that lacks clinical care, or has nobody else similar to your loved one present – will it really be the best match?

8) What is your smoking policy? What about Vaping? Do you offer a Nicotine Cessation Program?

Please consider choosing a no-smoking facility, and giving up smoking at the same time that you are treating your main addiction. You will have more support and guidance for smoking-cessation now, while you’re in rehab than when you go back.

10) What are your cell-phone, iPad, and laptop policy?

Treatment centers that allow the free or easy use of digital devices often have a low level of clinical care and a basic program. It’s best to participate in face-to-face interactions and real-world activities during treatment, rather than using your devices.

11) Given the recent wave of problems with rehab fraud around urine testing, and fraudulent lab billing, what is your UA policy, and what do you require the family to pay?

Learn more about drug testing fraud here.

12) What is your refund policy if/when my loved one leaves treatment against clinical or medical advice?

This is known as an “ACA” or “AMA” exit. Many unscrupulous providers will often keep pre-paid fees due to the patient “storming off” or being “bad.” Addicted humans sometimes leave treatment, so a thoughtful refund policy is a necessity. This should be spelled out clearly in their Financial Agreement, but if not, get the refund policy in writing.

13) What is your policy on a patient who relapses? What do you do with him or her?

Different rehabs have different responses to relapse. Some rehabs offer ‘refresher’ courses where the addict can come back for a short time if they feel they’re approaching relapse, and some offer alumni support group meetings.

14)  What is the male/female ratio of your community presently? What is the average age range of your community presently? Can you describe the current community members’ “drug of choice” at this time?

Since group work is very important. You need to make sure that your loved one will feel like they are part of the group, not alienated or labeled as ‘different.’ Try to find a rehab working with a group of similar people that you’re loved one can really connect with.

We hope you’ve found this resource helpful, and informative. Since the priority is getting yourself or your loved one into an appropriate, well-staffed, and safe treatment environment, it might be a good idea to consult with an experienced Interventionist if you’re still feeling uncertain. They can help you decide what services are necessary and which ones aren’t, and craft a personalized treatment plan to get your family going in the right direction.