How to Choose a Treatment Center and What to Look For
I’m not here to recommend any one treatment center over another. I don’t pretend to know where the best place to receive help for substance abuse is. There are so many different ways to evaluate a treatment center that it’s nearly impossible to come to any definite conclusion, and everyone will have a different opinion.
There is such a wide variety of treatment centers to choose from that it can be very difficult to select a place for yourself or a loved one. Factors like the out-of-pocket cost of treatment and the availability of treatment (many centers have long waiting lists) will be very influential. Beyond those logistics, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has composed a list of “Principles of Effective Treatment.” These guidelines will help you when choosing a treatment center.
Here are the 13 principles, and you can find them discussed in more detail at http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment :
1. Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior.
2. No single treatment is appropriate for everyone.
3. Treatment needs to be readily available.
4. Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug abuse.
5. Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical.
6. Behavioral therapies – including individual, family, or group counseling – are the most commonly used forms of drug abuse treatment.
7. Medications are an important element of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies.
8. An individual’s treatment and services plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that it meets his or her changing needs.
9. Many drug-addicted individuals also have other mental disorders.
10. Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug abuse.
11. Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective.
12. Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously, as lapses during treatment do occur.
13. Treatment programs should test patients for the presence of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases as well as provide targeted risk-reduction counseling, linking patients to treatment if necessary.
The NIDA recognizes that addiction is a complex disease, and so “treatment is not simple.” All addicts and their addictions are different, so their treatment should be, too. Knowing these 13 Principles of Effective Treatment can help you evaluate substance abuse treatment options.
Along with providing these guidelines, the NIDA also suggest five questions that everyone should ask of a treatment center before making a decision. These five essential questions are:
1. Does the program use treatments backed by scientific evidence?
2. Does the program tailor treatments to the needs of each patient?
3. Does the program adapt treatment as the patient’s needs change?
4. Is the duration of treatment sufficient?
5. How do 12-step or similar recovery programs fit into drug addiction treatment?
You can find more guidance on asking these important questions at http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/seeking-drug-abuse-treatment .