Alcohol and Drug Rehab Treatment: Critical Decisions

Posted on November 20, 2019 in Uncategorized

Choosing the right alcohol or drug rehab center can make all the difference when it comes to entering long-term recovery from an addiction. The task of finding the “right” drug rehab center is complicated by the fact that there are over 13,000 drug rehab facilities around the country. Each of these treatment centers is unique, but being unique does not necessarily mean that they are all equally good. It does, however, mean that you have many drug rehab centers to choose from and if you do not find the right one immediately you should continue searching as there are many high quality centers.

Here are ten questions to help you in your search for the right drug or alcohol rehab facility.

1. How does the treatment center define success and what is their success rate?

Many drug treatment facilities will have had independent reviews of their success. However, success can be measured in many ways. One treatment center may say they have a 74% success rate, but only be considering clients who remain sober for 6 months; another center may claim a 68% rate based on the results of clients after one year. Whatever their claimed success rate you will want to know how they measured it and what they consider success.

2. Are they accredited as a drug rehab center? And if so by whom?

There are a handful of national accreditation organizations including Joint Commission On Accreditation Of Healthcare Organizations (JACHO) and Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), among others. Organizations accredited by these bodies frequently have undergone site reviews and have measured up to national standards.

3. What are the credentials of their staff?

Most states have a system for credentialing drug and alcohol counselors. These individuals may be Certified Addictions Counselors (CAC) or Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors (CADC). These are minimum certifications, lead counselors should hold be MSW or LCSW level or higher.

4. Do they provide medically supervised withdrawal?

With some drugs proper withdrawal supervision can be a matter of life or death. If the treatment center does not have a detox center can they recommend one for attendance prior to treatment.

5. What does a typical week in their drug rehab facility look like?

There should be a balance of group and individual therapy. Education sessions, opportunities for reflection and support groups along with other components.

6. Can the provide testimonials?

True, no treatment center would put on display their failures, but they should be able to tell you about their successes.

7. How do they assist in setting up aftercare?

Aftercare has been found to be crucial to the success of long-term recovery. A good treatment center should either offer aftercare of be able to assist you in locating aftercare in your community.

8. Do they have a diverse group of counselors, and how will you be matched up?

One of the primary determinants of treatment success is a good client-counselor relationship. Therefore, a match between counselor and client should be worked towards.

9. What is their treatment modality or philosophy?

Find out if they are 12-step oriented, use motivational, cognitive or behavioral therapies, and then ask them to explain any terms you might not understand.

10. Do they work with your insurance company or can they set-up a payment plan?

Make sure you ask if they can work with your insurance company, or if your insurance does not pay for treatment work out how payment is to be handled.

Use a systematic program for identifying treatment centers which may be right for you. You may wish to print these questions out and keep a separate worksheet for each center’s answers. Remember, the right drug rehab center is waiting for you to call today.

© 2005, David Westbrook

About the Author: David Westbrook is a freelance writer and the creator of and []

Luxury Drug Rehab Treatment Centers Can Be Very Effective If You Know the Right Questions to Ask

Posted on November 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

In light of the recent hype concerning the legitimacy of luxury drug rehabs/substance abuse treatment centers, it is critically important to become as best educated as to how to most effectively differentiate between “pure posh” and those facilities which utilize luxury as a complement to an already sound program. Unforunately, most folks inquiring into treatment for themselves or a loved one are commonly in a bad emotional state and can be easily swayed by a good sales pitch. Hope is a powerful thing, and we can all look back at our lives and recognize times when hope overtook intuition and later resulted in regret.

In the case of luxury addiction treatment centers that are commonly found in areas such as Malbu, California, Florida, Orange County, Arizona, etc., it is crucial to identify and assess their commitment to the overall recovery process. Luxury can be a wonderful thing if it is properly infused in order to enhance the recovery process. There are obviously many varying opinions within the professional addiction treatment community, but the common denominator is that all licensed treatment centers should focus on the greater good of the client and work diligently toward helping to best ensure one’s long-term sobriety, whatever that may entail.

It is highly encouraged for those seeking treatment for themselves or a loved one to diligently engage in the process of seeking the “right” treatment center for their specific needs. Here are a few guidelines, suggestions and questions that should be noted during this research process.:

DISCLAIMER: This article is meant simply to edcucate and create additional insight into the process of deciding on the right course of addiction treatment. While the author of this article has substantial experience within the realm of chemical dependency treatment services, he is not a physician nor is he a licensed addiction treatment specialist.

  1. Do some research first. Go to Google and type something which resembles “information on addiction” and read up on as much as you can. There are varying opinions on whether addiction is a disease or not, but most medical professionals do agree that addiction is a disease and is recognized as such by the majority of the medical community. There are 12 step approaches, holistic approaches, cognitive therapy, experiential therapy, etc.
  2. If you feel comfortable and have any friends, family or colleagues with experience in the field of treatment then definitely consider speaking with them as to what their thoughts are. As in nearly any other example in life, those closest to you and whom have no financial motive are more likely to tell it like it is.
  3. Next, while I hate to bring money into the equation, it is a necessary component. What can you afford? Does the person have health insurance? If so then what does it cover? You can save yourself some time by calling the number on the back of the insurance card and finding out what exactly is covered and which facilities they contract with. In many cases you will need to speak with the Mental Health Division which usually has a separate phone number.
  4. Be sure to have as much information as possible concerning the substances in which the patient has been abusing. Some chemicals such as ethyl alcohol and benzodiazepines (Valium, Zanax…) may require a formal medical detox and could potentially cause life-threatening conditions if the person just quits cold-turkey. Other substances such as opiates and opioids (heroin, Vicodin, Morphine, Oxycontin…) aren’t typically life threatening during withdrawal but can cause very severe flu-like symptoms which can be greatly lessened by use of certain medications. Again, we are not physicians; we are simply speaking from experience.

Some things to say and ask:

  • When you begin calling or speaking with treatment centers, try to have someone else with you. It’s important that the information you get is processed with reason and soundness, and addiction – whether it’s for you or someone else you’re inquiring on behalf of – can cause substantial grief and confusion which may lead to impulsivity. Two heads are better than one.
  • TELL THE ADMISSIONS COUNSELOR EVERYTHING! If you’re ashamed that your son is also shooting up heroin and you decide not to disclose that among the other things he’s abusing, then you could potentially be creating more problems. Be honest and thorough!
  • Once you explain your situation be sure to ask if a medical detox is necessary. The person answering the phone will likely not be a physician and will not be able to give you a definitive yes or no, but you should ask if the in the case of a medical detox being required, will there be a physician on site or at a different location which requires travel? There are obvious advantages to an on site physician and in certain cases it really is quite important. Keep asking questions until you feel comfortable.
  • What is the client to staff ratio? What types of certifications does the staff have? What levels of education and hands-on experience does the staff member have? How much one-on-one time will the client get with the assigned therapist and/or addiction counselor?
  • What are their treatment modalities? (You may not know the first thing about treatment modalities, and that is ok, let the admissions counselor explain all about it to you).
  • Are they a 12-step based program? Do they offer any holistic treatments within the program structure? What types of groups do they conduct on a day-to-day basis?
  • Will the patient be seen and assessed by a psychiatrist to determine if there are any co-occurring mental health issues going on (depression, anxiety, grief & loss…)? And if so, will the facility take care of ensuring the medications are picked up for the client?
  • What are the visitor policies? Do they offer a family group and family counseling by an MFT or another qualified specialist in order to help transition the family through this period of time, as well as to uncover and begin resolving any issues within the family dynamic?
  • How long is the treatment program? What type of aftercare planning and support do they provide? FYI: Relapse is more common in cases when the client leaves treatment and goes from a structured & protected environment right back into little or no structure, and even more so if they return to their old stomping ground while having that new-found freedom, money and transportation. Transition planning is extremely important as the treatment phase nears its end.
  • What types of fun activities do they offer? People in addiction often lose the ability to experience joy without the use of drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, etc., and if they can’t begin to re-learn the pure joys which life has to offer then it further sets them up for a greater likelihood of relapse.
  • What kind of food do they provide? What about physical exercise? These are both important components and play integral roles in the treatment process available at many facilities.
  • What about things like meditation, spirituality, etc? Addicts are said to be spiritually bankrupt and while drugs and alcohol helped to create this situation, the truth is that there almost always exists deeper underlying issues that were ironically alleviated by the use of drugs & alcohol early on before “addiction” actually set in. What elements within the program are geared to address this area?

With some of these questions you may not even know what the answer is in which you’re hoping to hear. That is why prior research about addiction can be very beneficial, but ultimately you will begin to get a sense of what level of treatment the facility offers. Listen for the details. For instance, if you ask “how much one-on-one time will the patient receive with his/her assigned therapist,” and they respond with “our clients receive quite a bit of individual therapy time” vs. “each client will receive at least one hour per day of individual therapy, and sometimes more if they’re having an especially difficult day;” which sounds better to you? If, for example, you ask them how much addiction-related experience their staff psychiatrist has and you get a reply stating that their chef was classically trained in Europe’s finest culinary academy then there may be cause for concern. There should ultimately be more emphasis placed on core purpose and treatment protocol than on the accommodations.

Upon admission to a facility, there are two things which will always be performed – aside from admission and psych-social paperwork. One, they will perform a toxicology screening (urinalysis) in order to find out exactly what substances the patient has been using. Two, they will require that all belongings and baggage are thoroughly searched by a qualified staff member in order to ensure that no contraband is taken any further within the facility. These are MUSTS, and while I would never go so far as to diminish the legitimacy of a treatment program, in the case where these two protocols were not diligently enforced it would be great cause for concern! Addicts & alcoholics whom are active in their addiction simply cannot be trusted and must be treated accordingly during the intake process in order to preserve the integrity and safety of the other clients and staff alike. This process will be performed with as much dignity and professionalism as possible, but must be performed nonetheless. The facility must have full and accurate knowledge of the chemicals in their system in order to determine the treatment & detox regimen, and likewise, must have the assurance that the new client is not bringing in anything which may pose a threat to the sobriety and well-being of the other patients.

For more unbiased information on addiction treatment you are encouraged to visit the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration Website (SAMHSA) at: which is operated by the federal government. There is also substantial information available on the Sober Nexus Blog at: Best wishes to you during this process and remember, treatment works best when the patient is willing to let it work, so do your very best to keep a positive mindset and look toward the bright future that lies ahead rather than musty past that cannot be changed.


Affordable Drug Rehab Treatment Vs Luxury Treatment Centers – And Everything in Between

Posted on November 17, 2019 in Uncategorized

Most recovering addicts – or “ex-addicts” as some choose to term it – prefer to keep their personal struggles with addiction as quiet as possible when dealing with the general public. In the interest of drawing an important example, however, I will disclose one key element pertaining to my own previous struggles with substance abuse. Looking back from when I first reached the point in my addiction that required admission to rehab, to my very last treatment center not too terribly long ago, one consistency boldly stands out. As the years and numerous trips to rehab went by, the level of posh & luxury progressively diminished. From private accommodations and 5-star cuisine to skid row shelters and army cots in a gymnasium-type setting, my affluent upbringing and formal education became nothing more than a distant memory.

Today, I have the fortune of not only living a life beyond my wildest dreams, but the experience of having had numerous opportunities to work in various formal and informal addiction treatment settings, all of which have played an integral role into who I am today. Over the years I have been approached by many friends and family members of addicts that often pose the same question which is, and I paraphrase; “what type of treatment program works best?” And before I go any further let’s just get one thing very clear. The reasons as to why I did not remain sober following my initial trips to the nicer rehabs had absolutely nothing to do with the quality of care. My reasons for going in the first place were based upon nothing more than to get back in my family’s good graces, or to get the girl back, or to get the job back, or anything else along those self-serving lines. I had no intention and no desire to apply myself whatsoever toward a life of sobriety and hence, the long, arduous & painful road of active addiction lay ahead.

There are many variations of treatment, most of which will integrate a variety of elements which are often referred to as the treatment “modality.” Among the more common modalities out there are; 12 Step, Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, Holistic, Faith-Based, Work Therapy and others. The growing trend in recent years has been to incorporate a multi-disciplinary approach in which the facility will utilize certain elements of each treatment type in order to come up with their own modality and often market it as resulting in a higher level of success. The question then becomes, “what is their definition of success?”

Looking first at those treatment centers which are state, county and charity funded, they essentially offer what they offer and that’s about it. If you like it then great and if you don’t like it then leave, because there are likely 30 people standing in line behind you whom are desperate to get your bed. These are the types of programs that will usually provide an extremely “core-purpose” environment which, often begins with getting the addict off the streets and into a rigorous structure that involves group therapy, 12-step panels and meetings, work therapy in order to help the facility cover its costs, social-model structure that involves residents working with and overseeing each other’s day to day behaviors & actions, etc. These types of programs are also commonly offered by churches and religious non-profits which provide a religious “faith-based” format in conjunction with the other elements previously mentioned. In most cases the majority of the residents living at publicly funded facilities are either indigent or just coming out of jails and prisons and are mandated to the facility as a condition of their parole.

There is no evidence suggesting that the above treatment facilities are less effective, however, than span of treatment options available are definitely narrower. My personal experience with publicly funded treatment is that most of the clients have been struggling with addiction for many years and already have a good base of knowledge pertaining to recovery. Also, it is much more common to see a bit of a rougher client mentality in such facilities as opposed to those focusing on private-pay clients due to their history of incarceration, gang life or living on the streets & shelters. In most cases however, the staff is extremely diligent in their efforts to change these behaviors and not allow things like “prison talk” and gang-type clothing.

For those with health insurance and/or the means to pay out of pocket there is a world of options! Among those are; luxury rehabs, holistic rehabs, non 12-step treatment, adolescent treatment, multi-disciplinary facilities, intensive outpatient settings, faith-based treatment, eating disorders centers, wilderness-type facilities, hospital-type facilities, medical & rapid detox locations, and others. One of the primary differences is whether or not the facility operates by what is termed the “Disease Model” approach, that being, providing treatment based on the belief that addiction IS or IS NOT a “disease.” It is most commonly agreed that addiction – whatever type it may be – is in fact a disease which is progressive and potentially fatal if not treated. Those that operate by this belief will nearly always incorporate the 12 step philosophy to varying levels (i.e., Alcoholics Anonymous).

Over the past 20 years or so there has been a growing trend of treatment options that do not operate under the Disease Model and boldly stand by the belief that addiction is a curable malady. These programs infuse a variety of components into their services such as; holistic treatments, vitamin & nutritional complexes, yoga, spirituality, physical exercise, specific therapeutic approaches, individual therapy, etc. Each facility is different and will be able to offer substantially more information based on the specifics of their approach than I will. Many higher-end Disease Model facilities will also utilize some of the above components in addition to 12 step education and meeting attendance.

In the case of luxury and higher end treatment centers, the key element to consider is what role does the luxury factor play into the core purpose of the program? One key difference in higher end treatment is the ability to fully customize a client’s treatment plan with much greater flexibility based on his/her individual needs. There also tends to be a stronger focus on individualized therapy and the ability to cater to any other co-occurring issues such as grief & trauma, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, etc. Most mid-range facilities will treat co-occurring disorders as well but will often times not have an actual psychiatrist on staff and contract out this type of service on a case by case basis.

The range of treatment options in the middle of the cost curve are extremely broad; more so than in any other segment! Their modalities vary, and their ability to take insurance and provide financing options will vary as well. Many treatment centers in this realm will not take a singular approach to treatment, that is, they may operate under a disease model and take their clients to AA meetings in the evenings while also providing various holistic and unique therapeutic approaches during the day which are completely separate from the 12 step regimen. Most of these programs will have group therapy as well as individual sessions, however, the focus may vary depending on the foundation of their approach to recovery. Some will also take a religious approach called “faith-based” treatment which is utilized within the program structure to varying degrees and is most often based on Christian philosophies.

There has also been a dramatic rise in adolescent treatment as in lieu of the growing numbers of addicted teens. These types of programs operate under very stringent guidelines and are faced with regulations and protocols that extend beyond adult treatment environments. Some of these are actually in a wilderness setting that offer a broad focus on navigating through life by means of literally forcing the client to navigate through rugged terrain on various levels. The mentality behind this is that as addicts, we learn best through our own personal experiences, struggles and triumphs. Adolescents facilities are also mandated to provide formal education to the client based on state laws. For instance, if a 10th grader is forced into treatment due to addiction it does not necessarily mean that their schooling must be placed on hold. While some are more elegant than others, the one common denominator is that there must be an emphasis on growing up and taking responsibility for our own actions.

Across the board, regardless of what type of treatment setting we’re talking about, there are several common denominators. First, intermingling of clients on a romantic level is highly frowned upon and in many cases may result in expulsion from the program. Second, honesty is foremost. We’re all human and we all make mistakes and bad decisions from time to time, but those with the ability to be honest and forthright have a much higher likelihood of remaining sober. The chances of being removed from the program are much higher in cases when a client lies rather than in those in which he/she did something wrong but had the courage to remain honest, regardless of the anticipated consequence. Third, respecting fellow patients and staff alike is required. Addiction treatment is a bubble, a separation from real life enabling addicts to re-learn and enact many elements that outwardly may not seem to have any direct correlation to sobriety, but they do. The element of respect and decency plays an integral role in sobriety as well as life in general, and if the patient refuses to adhere to these principles and act accordingly then problems will always arise.

There is so much more to be said about the world of addiction treatment. I highly recommend visiting the National Institute on Drug Abuse website at This is a government organization which offers a very objective and unbiased list of resources, articles, research studies, etc.