There are several considerations one should evaluate when seeking addiction treatment for you or a loved one. Key among them is that each person has a unique background that may influence which resource is best.
Addictions can best be viewed as a chronic condition that is best treated with support systems available over the long term. In that regard, selecting an addiction treatment team is similar to selecting a primary care physician.
Treatment centers with appealing scenic views and wonderful amenities can have excellent treatment experiences, but it is more helpful to focus on indicators of quality and outcomes such as licensing, accreditation, evidence-based practices, and staff training and qualifications. Most of these items can be found on the website of centers you are considering.
National accreditation, such as CARF, and Joint Commission, indicate the provider adheres to strict standards regarding treatment, business functions, facilities, and safety. State licensing is also important and should be readily available on the resource website.
Treatment can be provided through an agency and individual practitioners, each with advantages. Individual practitioners may feel more private or intimate. It is helpful to understand how these individuals receive clinical consultation, and how they provide backup coverage when they are away from the office. Agencies will offer choices in the clinician you work with, and will likely offer the chance to interact with different staff through individual and group sessions. Regardless of whether you chose an individual or and agency, you should feel that your treatment plan is geared to your specific needs and goals.
Your treatment provider should be accessible. This can mean short waiting times for the first and subsequent appointments. They should be available after hours, and they should provide ongoing aftercare or continuing care services to provide support over an extended time period if needed. Most importantly, you should feel welcomed whether it is your first experience, or are seeking assistance following a relapse. Each person has their own path to recovery; the treatment provider should focus on assisting you find that path, not expecting you to follow their path. The program should not only focus on addiction but should offer assistance with other problems related to your addiction.
Explore how the treatment provider relates to other service providers and self-help groups. Is the provider open to other approaches to recovery or committed to only their approach?
The provider should have some statistics about their outcomes. The percent of clients who remain abstinent after one year may not be the most helpful statistic as the method of calculating this can be confusing. Ask about client satisfaction, improvement in family relations, improvement in health, improvement in employment, housing, and income to get an idea of the program effectiveness.
Evidence base practices are treatment approaches that have been found through independent research to be effective. SAMHSA, the federal agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, maintains a listing evidence-based practices for both treatment and prevention programs. Ask the provider which programs they use.
Cost is also important to understand. Check with your health insurance carrier to learn the providers included in your network. If you are interested in a provider not included in your carrier’s network, call the provider and see if they have success working with your carrier under single case agreements. Finally, ask your provider about financial assistance to offset the cost of treatment and learn how to apply for the assistance.
Finally, there are websites that can help with your search. Iowa Substance Abuse Information Center (ISAIC) is operated with funds from the Iowa Department of Public Health, and lists all licensed providers in Iowa according to their location. http://www.drugfreeinfo.org/ Also, SAMSHA, includes a national list of treatment providers for all 50 states. www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov