If you’re considering going in for treatment to overcome substance abuse, you’re about to make a very courageous decision and one that will impact your life for years to come. While it is true that for the best results you do need to make the commitment of your own free will, treatment for addiction is complex and there are many questions that you may have about it prior to entering the addiction treatment facility. Here are 20 things you should know about your addiction treatment plan.
1. What Success Has the Treatment Facility Had With Your Type of Problem – You wouldn’t buy a car without first having read reviews and done thorough research of the vehicle’s reliability, would you? A car is a replaceable possession, but your life isn’t. Doesn’t it make sense, then, to find out as much as you can about the overall track record of the treatment facility you’re about to enter with the type of problem that you have? What you’re looking for is reassurance that the treatment facility has the right resources and approach that results in a good successrate in treating patients who’ve come to the facility to overcome substance abuse.
Not all substance abuse treatment facilities are the same. Some have very good track records in dealing with alcoholism and alcohol abuse and certain typed of drug abuse and addiction, but less success with dual diagnosis or co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorder, or multiple abuse cases. Whatever your particular situation is, be sure to inquire about the treatment facility’s success rate in treating patients with your type of substance abuse. What this means is that you can ask about the facility’s success rate in terms of the percentage of patients who have successfully completed the program. If at all possible, ask about the patients’ progress after their time in treatment. This information will help you feel more confident about enrolling in the treatment facility to overcome your substance abuse.
2. Licensing, Credentials and Accreditation – No one goes to a university or school without checking on the institution’s licensing, accreditation and the credentials of the teaching faculty. This also holds true when it comes to patients seeking to enter a treatment facility for substance abuse – at least, it should. Often, however, people are drawn to a particular drug or alcohol rehab facility based more on TV commercials or other advertising, rather than by a close examination of the facility’s accreditation and the credentials of the faculty. Make sure the treatment facility is licensed to provide treatment in the state in which it is located.
Look for substance abuse facility accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) (http://www.carf.org/home/ ) for detoxification, residential treatment, day treatment, and outpatient treatment facilities. CARF accreditation represents the highest level of accreditation. It is awarded to organizations that show substantial fulfillment of the high standards established by CARF and clearly indicates that the facility’s current conditions reflect an established pattern of overall operations likely to be maintained and/or improved in the future. Use the CARF online provider search tool (http://www.carf.org/providerSearch.aspx) to locate an accredited provider.
Similarly, check into the credentials and experience of the professionals comprising the treatment facility staff. If you need a certain type of therapy, be sure that the faculty or visiting professionals have the appropriate credentials and experience to effectively deliver such treatment modality.
3. Who Will Be in Charge of Your Care – After you are admitted, you will be assigned to a particular treatment professional. This person will be in charge of your overall care and is the one with whom you will interact regarding any changes to your treatment program. He or she will likely be the one to monitor and adjust your treatment, should it become necessary. Find out who will be in charge of your care and what his or her credentials are.
4. Ratio of Staff to Patients – Some treatment facilities for substance abuse have a small number of patients and a correspondingly large number of staff. In some facilities,however, there are too many patients and too few staff. Ask what the ratio of staff to patients is. You want to know that there are adequate staff to be able to handle the number of patients in the facility’s care – especially you.
5. How Involved Will You Be in Your Treatment Planning – Don’t just take the approach that you’ll be a follower in your treatment. The most effective treatment is one in which you are fully involved along with your treatment professionals. This means that you have input into what’s being recommended for you. If you disagree with what your professionals say, ask to have the treatment modality explained to you. In this way, you are becoming more informed about what is deemed best for you and you can give your thoughts about it. Knowing how a prescribed treatment modality may benefit you may change your opinion about it and give you more confidence in the hoped-for result.
6. What Happens During Detox – Detoxification, or detox, is the process by which your body rids itself of the toxins in various substances. It usually lasts only a few days at the most, although this does depend on the type or types of substances, length of abuse, frequency of abuse, and other factors. Inquire about the specific type of detox for your particular substance of abuse, how long it takes to clear the body, what to expect during detox, how symptoms are alleviated, and whether or not medications are used.
7. What Medications Will Be Used – Many different prescription medications are given to patients to help shorten the duration and ease symptoms of withdrawal during detoxification from alcohol and drugs, as well as to help with the recovery process. Be sure to ask about what drugs will be used, how they work, what you can expect, as well as their associated risks and side effects. Your well-being depends on you being as informed as possible in order to make the most responsible choices for your recovery in concert with your treatment professionals.
8. How Soon Can Family Visit — It’s tough to be separated from your loved ones during treatment, particularly during the early stages. Be aware that no family interaction is permitted during detoxification, but the timing and duration of family visitation varies in the actual treatment phase. Check with the facility to find out when and how long family can visit.
9. What Should You Expect During the First 30 Days of Treatment – If you’ve never been in drug or alcohol rehab before, you probably have only a vague sense of what goes on during the first 30 days. Now is the time to ask. You will probably be given pamphlets that describe various forms of treatment modalities following detoxification, as well as other types of services that are available either as part of the overall treatment program or as extra-cost items. Ask to be shown around the treatment facility so that you can see first-hand some of these. Due to the private nature of counseling sessions, you won’t be able to view those, but you can see the grounds, the community dining and leisure area and other locations.
10. What Kinds of Therapy Will Be Used – Ask for specific descriptions of the various treatment modalities or therapy that will be used for your particular situation. Remember that effective treatment programs are individually tailored for the individual, based on his or her unique needs. You want to know what treatment modalities are recommended for your situation, what they consist of, how long they last, and how effective they have been with others with the same type of condition (for example, alcohol and drug abuse, or alcohol abuse and co-occurring mental health disorder).
11. Is Your Progress Monitored and Treatment Plan Adjusted – The best treatment programs include regular monitoring of your progress and adjustment of your treatment plan depending on your progress. Ask about how your treatment will be modified and how often such re-evaluations take place. For example, if you are put on a certain prescription medication to help with anxiety or depression and you are also undergoing individual and group psychotherapy, you want to know at what point your medication will be changed or discontinued if your symptoms fail to subside or get worse. Another example might be if you undergo eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) for trauma for the prescribed number of treatments and you overcome your fears, do other parts of your scheduled treatment modalities (such as counseling) change? If so, how do they change?
12. What Type of Accommodations Will You Have – Depending on the type of residential treatment facility you choose, you may have living accommodations that range from spartan to moderate to luxury. Within each of these types are several classifications. Your insurance coverage may well dictate which type of accommodations you have, or you may pay extra for certain arrangements such as single room, deluxe suite, and so on. Always ask what type of accommodations are part of your plan. Ask to tour the facility to see these living arrangements for yourself. If you are considering several treatment facilities, the one which makes you feel the most at home is likely the one where you’ll have the best opportunity to heal.
13. How Much Family Involvement Will There Be During Treatment – Again, research shows that the best treatment facilities recognize the importance of involving the patient’s family and, possibly, close friends in various aspects of the overall treatment plan. In large part, this is to ensure the patient’s successful recovery. But it is also true that the patient’s family has almost as tough a time during treatment as the patient. They often don’t know what to expect or how they can best support their loved one during and after treatment. Find out whether there are counseling services available for the family, called family counseling or family treatment program, as well as other resources that can help them during your treatment time at the facility.
14. What Kind of Services are Extra-Cost – While your basic substance abuse treatment plan should be covered by your insurance, it is just that – basic treatment. Usually there are no frills or extra services included in such coverage. You may, however, pay for extra-cost services out of your own pocket. Ask about which services do cost extra and then make a determination whether they may benefit your treatment. Keep in mind that cost shouldn’t be the overriding factor. Weigh and balance the type of service and cost versus the benefit to you.
15. What Happens During Relapse Prevention – As you near the end of the active treatment phase, you will be involved in what is known as relapse prevention. This includes learning helpful strategies for coping with cravings and urges, how to avoid the people, places, and things associated with use, how to incorporate routine and healthier behaviors into your life that help sustain long-term sobriety. Prior to being discharged from treatment for substance abuse, you will create a recovery plan along with your counselor. This includes a plan of action for you to follow (and revise as you progress in recovery) once you leave treatment. It is your best course of action to prevent relapse.
16. Do You Need to Attend 12-Step Meetings – There’s no question that most of the effective substance abuse treatment centers employ the 12-step group meeting concept as part of their overall treatment program. Undoubtedly there are some addiction treatment facilities that do not use 12-step meetings as part of their treatment approach, but it’s better to be aware of this before you enter treatment than after.
Why is the 12-step group approach used at all? Treatment to overcome substance abuse is a limited-time program. Once the patient completes treatment, he or she needs the support of family and others in order to have the best chance of maintaining sobriety. Research shows that family and 12-step groups are the two most crucial sources of this support network. In addition, 12-step groups are available worldwide, offering meetings in all 50 states, in-person, online, and via telephone. You are never without the availability of your 12-step support network. That’s the reason patients are introduced to the 12-step group concept during treatment for substance abuse. By the time patients complete treatment and enter recovery, they are familiar with how 12-step groups work and are able to begin their recovery by participating in group meetings on their own.
17. How Much Free Time Will There Be – Overcoming substance abuse is a lot of work, but it’s not all treatment and group therapy or 12-step meetings. Definitely ask how much free time will be allocated to each day. If there is a particular schedule – and there almost certainly is – find out in advance when your free time is scheduled so that you can make adequate plans. You may wish to sign up for a certain type of recreational activity during that time or participate in crafts classes, yoga, or other type of activity with limited enrollment.
Be aware that the initial phase of treatment, following detoxification, is likely to be more structured, involving more intense individual and group psychotherapy and less free time. There will, however, always be some free time for you to enjoy. Knowing your daily schedule will allow you to better allocate your at-leisure time. It also gives you an opportunity to learn healthier behaviors in an atmosphere that’s supportive of recovery.
18. Recreational and Leisure Activities – While your first priority is recovery and this should be your main concern when you enter a treatment facility for substance abuse, there are other considerations as well. These include the facility’s ability to meet your social, health, and psychological needs. Many residential treatment facilities have extensive recreational and leisure activities for their clients, some of which are very much like those available in first-class resorts. Ideally, such activities are seamlessly integrated into the overall treatment plan so that the patients feel no abrupt transition from therapy to free time.
Ask what kinds of recreational and leisure activities are available at the treatment facility you are considering and whether they are included in the overall treatment program or are extra-cost options. While this shouldn’t deter you from your selection of a particular facility, if all things are equal, it may be more conducive to your healing if you attend a facility that is more all-inclusive rather than one which is more spartan or where such activities are on an a la carte basis.
19. What Happens When You Complete Treatment – Are you just released into the world and expected to make it on your own? This is the fear of many who wonder what happens after treatment. The best treatment facilities, however, have measures in place to monitor and provide continuing support and help for clients after they’re discharged. This is called aftercare or follow-up treatment. After you return home from treatment, you will go in for routine check-ups, so to speak, to ensure that you are accountable and committed to your recovery. Each treatment center or facility is different, so it’s up to you to ask what your treatment facility provides in terms of follow-up care once you complete treatment.
20. What If Treatment Doesn’t Take – The worst fear of anyone who undergoes substance abuse treatment is that it won’t take, that they’ll relapse and be worse off than they were before. While relapse rates are high, it isn’t a given that every person in recovery will relapse. What relapse means is that perhaps more attention needs to be paid to coping mechanisms and strategies, or that additional treatment is required. It isn’t that the person didn’t learn anything during treatment, but perhaps they thought it would be easier to handle sobriety than it actually is. In any case, there is always help available. Relapse isn’t a failure. It is an opportunity to re-examine what did work and to do more of that, to find out what didn’t work and to stop doing that. Professional help can assist the individual in re-establishing healthier patterns of behavior that encourage long-term sobriety.
Are there any other things you should know about your substance abuse treatment plan? After reading this list of 20 things, you should have a few questions of your own. Always ask questions if you have any doubts or if you are just curious as to how it all works. Remember that the more informed you are about your treatment plan, the better your chances for a successful recovery.