FAQs for Addiction Specialists

Drug addiction is a chronic, debilitating disease that affects the lives of millions of Americans each year. While it is an often recurring illness, it is also treatable. Recognizing that you have a problem and choosing to begin treatment is the first step on the road to recovery. Those who make the decision to seek treatment should carefully consider all their treatment options so they can make the best choice for their recovery.

However, the prospect of finding the right treatment can feel overwhelming at first. The options are plentiful, and they all say they are the best. How are you to know for sure?

To help you navigate this unfamiliar terrain, we have compiled a list of questions to ask every prospective treatment program so you can gain as much information as possible to find the best one for you.

Q. What type of license or accreditation does your treatment facility have?

A. Drug and alcohol treatment facilities should hold a national accreditation, and should also be fully licensed by the state in which they operate. The Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities Commission provides a national accreditation to all qualified treatment programs in the United States. Other organizations that provide national accreditation include The Joint Commission and the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Please note, state licenses are not the same thing as accreditation. Each state varies in its licensing requirements. Choosing a facility that is both accredited and licensed in your state will help ensure that you receive the quality of care you deserve. If the facility does not hold any accreditations or licenses, move on.

Q. What are the credentials of the professionals who will be administering my treatment?

A. Be sure to ask treatment coordinators about the qualifications of their staff members. Addiction counselors, nurses, therapists, physicians, and nutritionists should be properly trained and credentialed in their respective fields. There are a variety of different credentials that treatment professionals may have, including:
  • Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC).
  • Certified Addictions Counselors (CAC).
  • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).
  • Licensed Professional Counselor Associate (LPCA).
  • Certified Co-Occurring Disorders Counselor (CCDP).
  • Licensed Psychologist.
  • Board Certified Psychiatrist.
  • Registered Nurse (RN).
  • Registered Dietician (RD).

Q. Do you have any scientific evidence, statistics, or personal testimonials on the effectiveness of your treatment methods?

A. Although rehabilitation centers cannot monitor individuals around the clock once they are released from their treatment programs, they should have some evidence of how effective their treatment methods have been throughout their years in operation. Ask for statistics, testimonials, and anonymous case study information on current and former patients. You may also want to consider looking online for reviews and testimonials.

Q. Do you offer individualized treatment programs?

projectknow-shutter356402372-support-groupA. Most treatment specialists agree that offering individualized treatment programs that cater to the specific needs of each patient yields greater success. Each treatment center is unique and may have its own approach. An individualized treatment program will determine your length of stay, any maintenance medications you may take, counseling, therapies, support groups, dual-diagnosis treatment, elective courses, and aftercare programs. Some programs may also have religious or spiritual activities available for those interested, as well as holistic and alternative therapies such as meditation, art therapy, massage, and acupuncture. Ask your treatment specialist whether the facility you plan to enroll in will offer treatments that cater to your specific needs.

Q. Do you provide ongoing support once a patient is discharged from treatment?

A. Around 40% to 60% of people with drug and alcohol addictions will relapse and use again after completing their initial treatment.1 To help maintain long-term sobriety, it is crucial that people in recovery follow up with aftercare programs when they complete treatment. Many treatment facilities offer aftercare programs onsite and may include some aftercare treatment options as a part of a comprehensive treatment package. It is important to ask your treatment provider what types of ongoing support and services will be available to you following treatment. If they do not have any aftercare programs on site, ask whether they offer referrals or have affiliations with any aftercare treatment facilities. Some aftercare treatment options you may want to ask about include:
  • Ongoing support groups and 12-step programs.
  • Maintenance medication treatment.
  • Outpatient physician visits.
  • Outpatient individual and group counseling/therapy.
  • Sober-living communities (halfway houses).
  • Job placement services.

Q. What about finances? Do you accept medical or supplemental insurance?

A. One of the biggest obstacles facing those who need addiction treatment is determining how to pay for their treatment program. Because addiction can be a devastating disease that can negatively impact all areas of a person’s life, from physical health to mental well-being and social and professional lives, it is important that those seeking recovery do not let finances become a barrier to treatment. Many treatment facilities will accept medical or supplemental insurance, though it rarely covers 100% of the costs. In the past, it was difficult for many addicts to receive coverage for their addiction treatment, but thanks to the Affordable Care Act, it is now required that Medicaid and other government health plans provide coverage for substance abuse disorders.2 If your insurance will not cover all of your treatment costs, you may want to ask the about any available sliding-scale rates or payment plan options.

Q. Will my family members be able to attend counseling sessions, meetings, and doctor appointments?

projectknow-shutter417957613-family-supportA. Many patients desperately need the support of their family members and friends during treatment. This is a critical part of the healing process, and the majority of treatment centers understand how important it is for patients to have the support of their loved ones. That being said, it is not uncommon for patients to have little to no contact with the outside world during at least the early stages of inpatient residential treatment. While you may be able to have your friends and family accompany you to certain outpatient medical appointments, counseling sessions, and support groups, they may not be able to attend some of these events if you are in an inpatient facility. This is meant to give you and your family members a break from the chaos your addiction created, have time to rest and regroup, and to begin to process the experience individually with mental health professionals. However, some treatment centers do have designated visitation hours for family and friends, as well as options to communicate with friends and family through letters, emails, and calls. If contact with your friends and family during treatment is important to you, you should ask the treatment center what their policy is on visitation and communication prior to starting your treatment program.

Q. Is my personal and medical information kept confidential?

A. Your treatment specialists, medical practitioners, and counselors will gather a great deal of information about you throughout your treatment process. There are laws in place to help protect your privacy when receiving drug and alcohol addiction treatment such as:3
  • Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
  • Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records Privacy Law.
Ask the treatment center what policies and procedures that have in place in order to ensure that these laws are upheld and that your privacy is fully protected.

Q. What can I expect from your addiction treatment center?

A. You and your loved ones should have a good idea of what to expect from an addiction treatment center before enrolling. You should not only know only what your treatment will entail, but also about any medical procedures that you will have to undergo. Ask about the various amenities available that will help to make your stay more pleasant. Many treatment facilities offer luxury amenities and services, as well as holistic treatment options. Some centers will allow you the option of a private room, whereas others may only have shared rooms. Research your treatment center thoroughly and ask any questions you may have to determine whether the treatment center fits your unique needs.

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Q. What if I need additional treatment beyond the planned duration of stay?

A. Patients who are serious about beating their addiction and maintaining long-term sobriety may decide to extend their stay if they feel initial treatment was not enough. After the designated period of time (30, 60, 90 days), the patient may not feel ready to confront their old friends or return to their old neighborhood. Others patients may need to extend their stay for medical reasons. It is important to know whether you have the option to stay at the treatment facility for longer than scheduled if you are not physically or emotionally ready to leave. In some cases, patients may remain at a treatment center for 6 months to a year, or even longer in some cases. Other treatment facilities many have transitional homes (halfway houses) where patients can live after rehab to help make the transition from rehab to home an easier one.

Sources

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014). Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. Treatment and Recovery.

  2. The White House: Office of National Drug Control Policy. (2016). Substance Abuse and the Affordable Care Act.

  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Medical Records Privacy and Confidentiality.

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