Safety and Security Guidelines for Rehab: What to Look For

3 min read · 3 sections

When it comes to addiction treatment, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. So it’s imperative that those seeking treatment take the time to identify a facility that meets their unique needs and to assess various criteria that are important to their recovery. However, one critical and perhaps overlooked criteria for selecting a treatment facility is safety.

So let’s take a quick look at rehab safety and security to explore some key cornerstones of safe rehab facilities, including everything from building safety and staff training to data privacy and COVID precautions.

Importance of Safe and Secure Drug Rehab

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, you’re not alone. In 2021, an estimated 46.3 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder (SUD) in the past year.1

The good news is that multiple forms of treatment and various treatment settings are available to help people take the necessary steps toward recovery. In fact, according to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 4.1 million people aged 12 or older received treatment for drugs or alcohol in 2021.1

Facility selection, however, is paramount to effective treatment. Along with factors based on each patient’s unique needs, safety and rehab security should be included in facility-selection criteria. After all, once you enter a treatment facility, you’re probably at your most vulnerable point, and safety shouldn’t be a primary concern. Rather, you should be able to rest easy that you’re safe and protected so you can focus solely on your recovery. Thus, it’s important to consider the safety and security of each facility during the facility-selection phase of your treatment journey.

How Rehabs Keep Patients Safe and Secure

First and foremost, the program you select should be industry accredited. This means that the facility has met the program and safety standards defined by the accrediting body.

All American Addiction Centers (AAC) facilities are accredited by the Joint Commission, Commission of Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), or both. This guarantees that the facility has gone through an intensive review process to ensure the highest quality of care. In addition, our Laguna Treatment Center in Orange County, CA, is a licensed chemical dependency recovery hospital.

In addition to accreditation, safe rehabs offer: proper monitoring for withdrawal symptoms and related emergencies, cleanliness, absence of hazards, restricted access to substances of abuse, proper medication distribution/containment, safety from other patients and staff, quality staff, ongoing training, and more. The following sections offer additional insights into critical safety and security measures to consider as you assess treatment facilities.

Building and Environmental Safety

Addiction treatment facilities should have the standard equipment and procedures required of public domains (e.g., fire extinguishers, proper ventilation, kitchen safety standards, HVAC/electrical/plumbing standards, stairway management, etc.)

Our River Oaks Treatment Center in Florida, for example, has stairwell and emergency exits on all floors in every building. This large rehab center also has surveillance cameras in most common areas as a safety precaution for patients, visitors, and staff.

Staff and Training

Quality and sufficient staff along with ongoing staff training are essential components of a safe rehab center. For example, American Addiction Centers facilities employ addiction industry experts, physicians, registered nurses, master’s-level therapists, and other supporting staff that are dedicated to safe, high-quality, patient-centered treatment.

AAC facilities carry out safety drills every month and train all staff on emergency protocols. River Oaks Treatment Center, for example, trains on the following possible situations (among other training types):

  • Code Grey: Group Staff Presence Needed
  • Code Purple: Psychiatric Emergency
  • Code White: Medical Emergency
  • Code Blue: Non-Breathing Person
  • Code Red: Fire Emergency, Initiate Fire Safety Protocol
  • Code Brown: Initiate Severe Weather Protocol
  • Code Green: Disaster/Client Headcount

Ongoing training ensures all staff maintain high standards and stay up to date on safety practices.

Visitors, Intake Process, and During Rehab

Safety is also a consideration when comes to visitors, the intake process, receiving mail, etc. AAC’s River Oaks Treatment Center offers several practices to ensure patient safety, many of which can be used to evaluate other treatment options.

For example, this facility has a locked gate, and all admissions and visiting guests must be buzzed in using a call box and phone security system. Staff members also have entry key cards registered to them, each of which can be deactivated if it’s misplaced.

Additionally, during the admissions process, all intake clients are observed by a nurse, certified nurse assistant (CNA), or treatment advocate. All guests are prescheduled and checked in through the main administration area, and no guest is left unobserved. Plus, the facility does regular golf cart patrols, and a police dog completes room and grounds sweeps at least once a month.

When it comes to mail, incoming deliveries are sent to the main administration office in each AAC facility to be searched before being delivered to the intended patient. Patients then open their mail in front of a program supervisor to ensure safety and security.

Confidentiality and Information

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 is a federal law that protects patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s knowledge or consent.2 Patient records for substance use disorder (SUD) treatment are also protected under Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 2, which ensures that patients receiving treatment for addiction in a Part 2 program do not face adverse consequences or discrimination for seeking help.3

At American Addiction Centers facilities, all patient information is kept confidential and secure. Patient information is stored electronically using AAC policy and procedure standards. And any paper documents are typically stored in our records department, which is off limits to most staff. AAC’s 24/7 helpline, chat services, and verification-of-benefits communications are also confidential—and free.

Safety and Security Measures During COVID

American Addiction Centers facilities strictly follow the COVID-19 recommendations outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Amid a constantly changing global health crisis, AAC continues to take proactive steps to protect all current and future patients as well as staff members.

In spite of the new challenges COVID-19 has presented, addiction treatment is crucial. Although there is no cure for drug and alcohol addiction, it can be managed successfully with the right professional treatment.4 Don’t let the fear of COVID-19 stop you or your loved one from seeking help.

For more information on our COVID-19 safety measures, vaccination policies, quarantine requirements, and testing, reach out to an AAC admissions navigator at . AAC also continues to update its COVID-19 drug and alcohol rehab safety and testing guidelines to reflect the newest latest protocols on safety and security.

Signs a Rehab Center May Not Be the Safest

The aforementioned factors can help you assess the safety and security of various rehab centers. However, there are also a handful of red flags that should probably give you pause regarding the facility’s overall safety. Red flags include:

  • Lack or lapse of facility accreditation.
  • Unclean or ill-maintained building.
  • Lack of visitor monitoring.
  • Understaffing or lack of addiction treatment experience and/or credentials among staff.
  • Absence of obvious COVID-19 procedures in place.

With facilities located throughout the United States, American Addiction Centers clearly keeps patient safety and security top of mind so patients can focus on recovery. For more on why you should choose an AAC rehab program—and to discuss our safety precautions or how to begin the admissions process—reach out to one of our admissions navigators at .

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