Deciding to seek treatment for a substance use disorder is a big step. There’s a common misconception that individuals must have a ‘rock bottom’ moment to start their recovery journey or decide on their own. In reality, many people see the road ahead and enter treatment with encouragement from loved ones.
Choosing a treatment programme isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Here are some essential considerations when choosing an addiction treatment programme for yourself or someone you love.
Proximity and convenience
While there are several factors that go into choosing an effective treatment program, proximity and convenience are top priorities. It can be beneficial to get some separation from social and environmental triggers, but proximity improves the chances of coverage, familial support, and continued care.
Convenience is especially important for outpatient programmes. For example, if you’re going through recovery in Boston, you’ll want a center that’s easy to navigate to for meetings, therapy appointments, etc. Trying to navigate Route 28 or the Fresh Pond Parkway at rush hour is a nightmare.
Many people get re-established with work and day-to-day activities while seeking outpatient treatment. Think to the future and choose a place that won’t be inaccessible as treatment progresses.
Different treatment centres use different approaches to promote recovery. Ideally, you’ll choose a program specifically catered to the type of substance or addiction in question. While there are similarities between narcotic and alcohol addiction treatment, there are notable differences in medical interventions. For example, medication-assisted therapy (MAT) is commonly used to help mitigate cravings and reduce relapse risk in opioid users and requires a MAT doctor to oversee the prescription and monitoring.
Look for a programme that goes beyond detox to incorporate mental health interventions as well. Behavioral therapies can help patients understand the root of their addiction and develop healthy coping strategies to overcome stressful events and triggers in the future. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is commonly used in treatment programmes, though some also engage in art therapies, interpersonal social rhythm therapy (ISRT), or dual treatment for other mental health disorders.
Some treatment programmes also use holistic programming to support addiction recovery, offering exercise programs like yoga and meditation. Some programs value group treatment and social connection, whereas others focus on a one-on-one approach. Finding the right treatment approach for your needs can improve the recovery process.
Family and continued support
Addiction impacts everyone. Unfortunately, many people undergoing treatment have loved ones and family members affected by the behaviors and outcomes of substance abuse.
Many treatment centers also offer support and therapies for family members impacted by addiction. If the treatment facility doesn’t provide direct programming, they should have references or resources available for family members.
It takes time to establish trust and rebuild relationships in the aftermath of addiction. Seeking proactive treatment is also essential when children are involved, as the children of people with addiction are more likely to struggle themselves.
Budget and insurance coverage
The paradox of seeking treatment for addiction is that many people with substance use disorders also experience financial insecurity. Yet, rehabilitation and ongoing treatment can be costly.
It’s important to figure out the financial side of addiction intervention to determine the program costs and who will be covering it. Fortunately, many health insurance plans offer coverage for addiction treatment. There are also government-funded programs to consider. While subsidized programs may not have the same resources as higher-budget programs, they’re still valuable in starting the recovery process.
Take some time to understand whether the programs and centers you’re evaluating have a cultural inclusion programme. For example, Jewish or Muslim people undergoing treatment won’t find the same level of success with a Christianity-based programme and will have dietary differences as well.
Many women facing substance abuse have also endured sexual trauma and might feel safer in a women-only programme. Members of the LGBTQ+ community also face unique challenges. Having a program that can be personalized with knowledgeable staff to facilitate treatment in an inclusive manner is a must for marginalised groups.
This aspect of finding a treatment programme often gets overlooked. Unfortunately, you may not be able to find a programme for cultural adaptations in your area. If that’s the case, it’s worth casting a wider net and looking outside your immediate surroundings.
Environment and facilities
Once you’ve narrowed down the options, consider requesting a facility tour. Everyone has the right to personal safety and comfort as they go through the treatment process. The facility doesn’t have to be cutting edge or luxurious, but it should be clean and well-kept. There should also be reasonable privacy and security features to keep everyone safe.
Try to note the intangible qualities of the facility as well. Does it seem to be well-staffed? Does the staff seem engaged and positive or worn down and tired? Depending on the programme, this place could be home for a while, so these features matter.
Licensing and training
Take some time to ask questions and research whether the treatment facility has state accreditation and licensed medical professionals on-site. You can also ask what kind of training support staff has, such as additional training in trauma-informed care.
Look for proof of accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). If you can’t find this information on the treatment centre’s website, you can request proof of accreditation.
Choosing a treatment programme isn’t easy, but it’s important to find a good fit. Use this guide to find the right treatment option for your unique needs.
Robert Haynes did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.
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