How to Choose a Rehab Facility

5 min read · 2 sections
When it comes to drug and alcohol treatment, it’s critical to select a facility that not only provides evidence-based care but also meets your unique needs. Explore a step-by-step approach to find the right rehab center.
What you will learn:
How to assess your needs and how to find a rehab center.
Levels of care available.
Factors to consider, including location, accreditations, staff, special programming, amenities, payment, and more.
Questions to ask each potential rehab facility.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Rehab Center: A Multistep Approach

Each individual that enters treatment is unique, and no single treatment type, therapy, nor approach works for everyone. So the best care plan is the one that’s a perfect fit for you, not the masses. While healthcare and addiction professionals are best suited to devise a treatment plan and determine which level of care best fits your needs, it’s most likely your job to select a treatment facility.

So how do you compare treatment facilities? And how do you find a rehab that can meet your one-of-a-kind needs?

Explore a multistep process to assess your needs and evaluate a host of factors that will help you find the right rehab, such as levels of care, location, accreditations, staffing, and more.

Determine Rehab Needs

How can you find a rehab that meets your needs if you don’t fully understand what you want and require from treatment? So before you can determine where to go for rehab, you need to first understand exactly what you’re looking for.

So if possible, take some time to assess your treatment needs and substance misuse history. For example, consider making a mental—or better yet written—inventory of aspects such as:

  • Which substances you misuse, how long you’ve been doing so, and the degree to which you misuse them.
  • Whether you might have underlying issues, such as depression, anxiety, medical conditions, etc., and what medications you take.
  • How your substance use affects the various facets of your life.
  • What behaviors you want to change.
  • Whether you are likely better suited to inpatient or outpatient care, and whether you might need detox to help you safely and comfortably deal with withdrawal. (Again, professionals will assist in making these determinations, but it’s helpful to put some thought into your options as you search for facilities.)

If you’d like help assessing your substance use tendencies, consider employing an online assessment tool. Or contact a healthcare provider or counselor to assist you.

Next, make a list of some of the wants or desires that might make treatment a little more comfortable. Every facility offers different services and amenities, and myriad options and combinations are available. Some common options include:

  • Private room.
  • Outdoor recreation areas.
  • Rural rehab setting.
  • Urban outpatient care allowing you to maintain some work and/or family obligations.
  • Pool.
  • Equestrian therapy.
  • Fitness equipment and gym area.
  • Yoga and meditation space and services.
  • Game/TV/computer lounge.
  • Smoking area.
  • Hot tub.
  • Basketball court.
  • Private lake or garden.
  • Ropes course.
  • Energy healing treatments.
  • Nutritional therapy.
  • Music and art therapy.
  • Excursions to nearby activities.

By assessing your goals and desires, you can develop a clearer vision of what you need and want from a facility—which can make the facility-selection process a bit easier.

Explore Levels of Care

Finding a suitable level of care is crucial to treatment effectiveness.1 So it’s important to first understand the options.

Many patients start their treatment journey with detox.  Available in inpatient and outpatient settings, medically assisted detox provides patients with the medications and support to move through withdrawal as safely and as comfortably as possible.

Following detox, many patients transition to inpatient or outpatient rehab. However, multiple levels of care are available within these two broad treatment types. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) offers a widely used set of guidelines to determine the placement, transfer, and discharge of people seeking addiction and co-occurring disorder treatment. Among these guidelines, ASAM offers a  continuum of care that employs a scale of 0.5 to 4.0.2

Common levels of care (and their corresponding levels) include:1-3

  • Inpatient Rehab (Levels 3.1 to 4). With inpatient rehab, you live on campus while in treatment. Addiction and medical specialists provide 24/7 support and care using multiple therapeutic interventions such as behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy.
  • Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs) (Level 2.5). Also known as day treatment, a partial hospitalization program (PHP) is the most intensive form of outpatient care. It employs many of the same therapies as inpatient treatment, just at a slightly lower intensity; plus, patients return to their homes at night. While treatment varies by facility, programs requiring 6 hours per day or more of outpatient care are typically considered PHPs.
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) (Level 2.1). Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are another in-depth form of outpatient care, typically requiring roughly 9 hours of weekly contact. IOPs are less intense than PHPs and inpatient care and more intense than traditional outpatient rehab.
  • Outpatient rehab (Level 1). As the name suggests, patients in traditional outpatient programs live in their own homes or sober living environments. Standard outpatient programs offer similar treatment approaches to that of inpatient rehab, just at a lower intensity. Conversely, traditional outpatient programs are less rigid and intense than other forms of outpatient care.

Following inpatient and outpatient care, many professionals recommend some form of aftercare (e.g., 12-Step programs, support groups, ongoing counseling, etc.) and/or residence in a sober living environment (e.g., halfway house, outpatient living, and Oxford House). Also keep in mind that many facilities offer telehealth services to compliment other forms of care.

Research Addiction Treatment Options and Locations

Once you understand your needs and the various levels of care available, it’s time to explore facility options. Begin by searching for potential facilities with the level of care you think you may need, and then create a list of those that stand out.

Cull that list to include only those facilities that employ evidence-based practices, which are strategies that have been proven effective for addiction treatment through science-based research. For example, many treatment centers offer evidence-based treatment such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing (MI), and contingency management (CM), among others. Depending on your situation, your treatment plan also may involve medications to treat severe addictions or co-occurring disorders.1

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is home to some of the best treatment facilities nationwide, each of which offers various evidence-based approaches and specialized treatment programs. To speed the facility-selection process, contact AAC at to speak with an admissions navigator who can provide guidance regarding suitable levels of care and how to find a rehab that meets your needs. Additionally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a treatment locator at FindTreatment.gov to help you identify rehabs.

Keep in mind, the right treatment facility for you may not always be in your backyard. You may need specialized care that requires travel to a rehab. Or sometimes it’s best to put some distance between the people, places, and things that contributed to your disorder or that may trigger substance use in the future.

Assess Accreditations and Certifications

Another factor to consider when choosing a rehab center is its accreditations and certifications. Various state and national organizations accredit reputable rehabs to ensure you receive appropriate care. These accreditations and certifications indicate a facility is well-renowned and meets addiction treatment standards. To obtain these signifiers, rehab facilities go through an extensive application and acceptance process.

Quality rehabs typically have some or all of the following accreditations, certifications, and ratings:

  • Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Since 1966, this globally recognized accreditation body has evaluated several health and human service providers, including inpatient rehab programs. CARF’s elected board members have experience and expertise in addiction treatment, oversee standards and policies, and provide ongoing consultation to accredited facilities.4
  • The Joint Commission. Founded in 1951, the Joint Commission evaluates and accredits more than 22,000 U.S. healthcare programs and organizations. Joint Commission surveyors assess facilities for the highest quality of safe and effective care.5
  • Compliancy Group HIPAA Seal. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) ensures that healthcare professionals protect patients’ sensitive data to the full extent of the law. The Compliancy Group HIPAA Seal is awarded to organizations that use an effective HIPAA compliance program and advanced security protocols.6
  • State-Specific Chemical Dependency Facility Licensure. Many states offer specific licenses for chemical dependency treatment facilities.
  • National Association for Behavioral Healthcare (NABH). The NABH promotes healthy communities by advocating for behavioral healthcare. NABH accreditation represents providers that deliver demonstrative, accountable, and clinically effective recovery services for mental health and substance use disorder patients.7
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB). This nonprofit membership rates businesses based on their reliability and performance to advance marketplace trust. BBB Accredited Businesses are part of a community of trustworthy companies and charities that follow ethical business practices.8
  • Other Recognitions. Some facilities also earn recognition from other agencies and organizations. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield Distinction Centers are facilities that the insurance provider has recognized for their quality of care and patient results.9

Evaluate Treatment Center Staff Credentials and Expertise

The quantity and quality of staff within each facility is also a major factor to consider as you search for a treatment center. A quality rehab program usually has multiple professionals on staff who are qualified to treat your mind, body, and spirit. Facilities that can effectively focus on holistic care typically have a diverse staff with different credentials and expertise—as opposed to a few individuals that wear multiple hats. A multifaceted rehab team may include specialties such as:

  • Medical doctor.
  • Nurse.
  • Chemical dependency counselor.
  • Psychiatrist.
  • Psychologist.
  • Nutritionist.
  • Wellness specialist.
  • Spiritual counselor.

Evaluating the credentials and licenses of a facility’s staff is also essential. Staff members should meet nationally recognized standards for professional practice in addiction treatment. These staff members may hold various licenses and credentials that can vary by state, but some reputable abbreviations to look for include:10-12

  • Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC).
  • Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC).
  • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).
  • Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) (includes various levels such as I, II, III, IV, V, N).
  • Certified Co-occurring Disorders Counselor (CCDP).
  • National Certified Addictions Counselor (NCAC).
  • Master Addictions Counselor (MAC).
  • Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselor (LCAC).
  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW).
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW).
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).

Consider Treatment Specialties and Population-Specific Programming

Treatment specialties are another key consideration. In addition to offering various levels of care (e.g., PHPs, IOPs, inpatient care, detox, etc.), some facilities cater to specific disorders, such as alcohol use disorder, or substance-specific programming, e.g., opioid detox. Finding a facility specializing in your substance of choice or a particular level of care will ensure you receive the targeted treatment you need.

Also note that some rehabs offer special programming for unique populations, such as pregnant women, Veterans, single parents, etc. For example, various AAC treatment centers offer the Salute to Recovery for Veterans, special programming for members of the LGBTQ+ community, services geared toward trauma survivors, etc.

These programs offer targeted care from trained professionals who understand how your unique experiences can contribute to addiction. Plus, they often provide peer groups, which can provide acceptance, support, and encouragement from others who’ve walked in similar shoes.

Explore Services and Amenities

Your personal level of comfort can impact recovery success at least to some degree. Rehabs offer various services and amenities, often at an additional cost, to meet your personal preferences. Generally speaking, services are beneficial activities (e.g., yoga classes and mindfulness nature walks) while amenities are the building’s desirable features, such as pools, gyms, equestrian centers, and yoga studios.

Your treatment may be highly successful at a bare-bones facility without any differentiating services and amenities. However, when trying to select a rehab facility, some “extras” may elevate one facility over another if quality and care are otherwise similar across the board.

Popular options include:

Amenities

  • Pools.
  • Gyms.
  • Outdoor recreation areas.
  • Private rooms.
  • Meditation areas.

Services

  • Art and music therapy.
  • Massage therapy.
  • Energy healing.
  • Nutritional therapies.
  • Mindfulness activities.

Investigate Payment and Insurance Options

People pay for treatment in a variety of ways—and finances don’t have to be a barrier to getting the help you need. However, you’ll probably want to investigate payment and insurance options offered by each facility and determine which is the best fit for your financial situation. If you have private insurance, you may also want to know if the provider is in-network with your plan.

Payment options vary by facility, but they can include:

  • Private health insurance.
  • Medicaid.
  • Medicare.
  • Military insurance (aka Tricare).
  • IHS/Tribal/Urban (ITU) funds (from the Indian Health Service).
  • Payment plans, financing, and sliding-fee scales.
  • Self-pay/out-of-pocket (e.g., cash, credit, and loans).
  • Government funding and grants.

Additionally, various state-funded rehabs and/or free rehab centers may be available in your area for those who qualify.

Talk with Treatment Providers, Read Reviews, and Tap Alumni Resources

Once you’ve examined your needs, necessary rehab qualities, and potential providers, you should have a short list of maybe 2 to 5 facilities that seem feasible. Next, it’s probably time to contact them to answer any lingering questions and put a “voice,” so to speak, to the organization.

It helps to prepare a list of questions to ask each facility so you can generate an apples-to-apples comparison between rehabs. A few essential questions to consider include:

  • What licenses and accreditations does the facility and staff hold?
  • Does the facility use evidence-based practices? Which ones?
  • Does it treat for co-occurring disorders?
  • What therapies are offered?
  • What amenities and services are included?
  • What programming or services are available for special populations and demographics?
  • Does the facility take same-day admissions?
  • Does the facility accept insurance? If so, is it in-network with your provider?
  • If you don’t have insurance, what other forms of payment are accepted?

It’s also helpful to read facility reviews. Patient testimonials can offer an in-depth look at what a treatment facility is like. Plus, some rehabs, including those under AAC’s umbrella, have alumni programs that provide support (via events, communication, activities, etc.) to former patients. While confidentiality is critical and you certainly don’t want to cross this line, these alumni groups can offer valuable insight to would-be patients. Plus, the mere presence of an alumni program suggests the facility is concerned about its patients’ long-term recovery, not just their short-term well-being.

Find Addiction Treatment Today

Matching your needs to a treatment center is paramount to your success. And the aforementioned considerations and steps can help you do just that.

However, if you’d like a little assistance or you have specific questions about the process, American Addiction Centers can help. Contact our admissions navigators at for confidential conversations 24/7. They can not only answer your questions, verify your health insurance, and discuss payment options, but also help you find a treatment center that meets your needs. Reach out to take your first step toward recovery today.

 

 

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