For the first time in history, 100,000 Americans have died of opioid addictions in a single year, a 29% increase since 2019. Many blame the isolation of the pandemic for exacerbating the public’s need to self-soothe through substances. Others are certain that the rise in fentanyl-laced products is to blame for the major jump in deaths.
Ultimately, if you or someone you love is struggling with substance addiction, it doesn’t matter what substance it is, or why. The only thing harder than the addiction itself is finding the resources to get clean and sober. How do you select drug rehab centers that offer what you need to achieve long-term sobriety?
If you’re looking for help, you’re not alone. Considering your rehab center options can be an isolating experience, and the for-profit goals of many institutions can make it feel like everyone is promising you the world. If your goal is simply to get clean again, you need to learn how to read between the lines and understand what to look for in a rehab center.
In the end, there is no one-size-fits-all option. We’ve created this guide to provide you with the most important things to think about as you research rehab centers. Keep reading to learn about the most important facets to consider when choosing where to begin your sobriety journey.
Consider what the average day looks like in a rehabilitation facility. While the day will involve meals, individual therapy, free time, and recreational activities, you will spend the bulk of the day in group therapy. The group serves as the foundation of an individual’s time in treatment.
At the beginning of treatment, the other members of a patient’s therapy group serve as mentors and role models. The stories of their successes and struggles help other patients to feel safe to share their own burdens. For many individuals, the peer support group is one of the most essential components of addiction treatment.
Ideally, you should seek out a center in which the members of the group look like you. It’s the best way to ensure that you will find kinship with group members, form therapeutic relationships, and get what you need.
When choosing a drug rehab center, you will first want to take the age of the population into account. Are you a parent seeking treatment for an addicted adolescent, or an adult looking to get clean on your own? Ideally, adults and teens will pursue recovery in separate programs with rehab center staff that has the training to address the specific needs of those populations.
Just as adults might feel awkward opening up around teens, young teenagers will be reluctant to share if they don’t feel part of a peer group. Success in rehab starts when the recovering individual feels safe enough to lean on their group for support. It is so much easier to do that when the group consists of peers at a similar developmental level.
The topics of conversation will also be more appropriate if everyone in the group is of a similar age and background. Teenagers may not need to talk about returning to work, while that might be key to an adult’s recovery. Likewise, a teen who needs help with peer relationships might not be able to get a word in if adults dominate the group.
Teen rehab can save lives. This is only the case, however, if the teen is getting developmentally appropriate help from professionals trained in adolescent therapy.
Members of marginalized groups might want to ensure that the center they choose can meet them where they are. For example, a rehab that operates on gender lines might be inappropriate for a trans or gender non-conforming individual. Members of the LGBT+ community may have more success in treatment if they attend groups with those who will easily accept them based on their sexual identity.
Likewise, you may have an easier time relating to individuals who share your racial or religious background. This includes the other individuals in recovery as well as counselors, therapists, and other staff. Community is essential to recovery, so this is a big factor to consider when you’re deciding whether you can be perfectly vulnerable at a rehab center.
While some rehab centers will advertise these things directly on their websites or admission materials, you may have to do some sleuthing. We suggest reading online reviews to ensure that other individuals with your background have had successful experiences in treatment.
Finally, you will want to ensure that the center itself treats your specific addiction as well as any other diagnoses you carry. While this may sound obvious, it’s an important factor. While a center may offer a “dual diagnosis” program, they don’t necessarily cater to every diagnosis.
First, ensure that the center has experience treating your specific addiction. Some centers cater more to alcohol, while others specialize in particular substance addictions, such as opioids. That will ensure that they offer programming and medical assistance geared toward your specific needs.
If you do carry a secondary diagnosis, say so upfront. While many centers are happy to treat a dual diagnosis of addiction and anxiety, they might not have the resources for an individual with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Your safety matters, so you deserve staff that can meet your needs completely.
This goes extra if you have any other medical needs. Not every center can accommodate physical disabilities, for example. Remember that these professionals are ultimately trying to sell you a service, so make sure you see any promised accessible spaces with your own eyes before you show up!
Almost every rehab center that you encounter will require that you be substance-free before you can start treatment. This does not always mean that they offer on-site detox assistance! In some cases, you will have to find a separate detox center, get clean, and come to rehab only after you have completed treatment there.
In many cases, however, rehab centers do offer detox on-site. This is the most convenient option for most individuals. It means you don’t need to take the leap and enter a strange center twice in a very short period.
Still, you should never select a rehab center just because it seems “easy.” These professionals have your life in their hands. Detox can be an incredibly painful, emotional, and dangerous process, and you want to ensure you are safe the entire time.
One thing to ask about is whether or not the facility believes in medically assisted detox. This is important if you will be withdrawing from prescription opioids, heroin, alcohol, or benzos. Medications can assist with some of the physical symptoms that you are likely to experience.
In some cases, however, you might prefer detox without medications. This generally comes down to your feelings about using drugs while pursuing recovery.
Finally, withdrawal comes with many channeling mental symptoms. For many individuals, these symptoms are the most painful and difficult of all. Find out what your chosen center does in the case of acute psychological distress during detox, and what services they offer those who are struggling.
In almost all cases, if you are in recovery for the first time, you will want to look for a residential rehab center.
When you’re accustomed to freedom, this can feel overwhelming and extreme. The truth is that recovery requires a major lifestyle change. The full-time support offered by residential treatment programs can make a huge difference in your ability to cope with change.
In a residential program, you will have access to staff around the clock. The structure and rules enforced during the program will help you to make positive changes and better decisions. You will have the luxury of setting the concerns of everyday life aside so you can focus on recovery.
There are a few different types of rehabilitation programs, however.
If you have already been through residential recovery and have relapsed, a less intensive program might be appropriate. Sometimes less intensive programs are appropriate for those at earlier stages of addiction.
One slightly less intensive program is PHP or a Partial Hospitalization Program. In essence, this type of treatment has all of the perks of inpatient treatment without the overnight requirement. You will attend therapeutic programming during the day and sleep in your own home or a sober living house.
Another such program is Intensive Outpatient Treatment. This is ideal for those who have many responsibilities and cannot commit to a different type of program. You might consider intensive outpatient programs if you have children, need to work, or must care for old or infirm relatives.
These can be challenging options for those getting clean for the first time, as you will be thrust back into the real world at the end of each day. You may face temptation. If you have a very strong support system, however, these might be the perfect compromises for you.
Finally, those who have gone through residential treatment at least once might be able to resume a sober lifestyle by attending an outpatient therapy group. This is only advisable if you have a lot of other support, such as a regular counselor or therapist.
If you do choose to attend a residential program, recruiters will probably tell you about the many “perks” that make their program unique. There are a lot of buzzwords involved that may make it difficult to understand what you’re really signing up for. Often, this just comes down to your unique interests and preferences.
One thing to pay attention to is what sorts of recreational therapies the center offers. Believe it or not, many rec therapies are essential to drug addiction treatments that provide you with coping strategies that you can use beyond rehab! Find out whether certified and licensed therapeutic practitioners run rec therapy programs.
The first variety of rec therapy you may notice is “holistic” therapy. The word holistic just means “for the whole person.”
In general, “holistic therapies” consist of yoga and meditation practices. This can help with focus, cravings, and even some anger management issues.
You might also come across creative arts therapies. These can include visual art therapy, music therapy, drama therapies, or even dance therapy. Ask questions, because sometimes centers use this as a fancy word for “arts and crafts.”
Another popular rec therapy is outdoor therapy or wilderness therapy. These are typically offered at centers in remote locations with access to nearby hiking trails. It might provide access to fun physical elements like zip lines or challenge courses.
Finally, some centers also offer animal-assisted therapies. In most cases, this means caring for and riding horses. Sometimes rehab centers are also on farms, and working with your hands will be a major component of the day.
If you’re living with substance addiction, your mind is always running a million miles an hour, trying to solve problems and make your life work. The burden of figuring out how to select drug rehab centers shouldn’t be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Think through all of the above information as you make your choice and you will be on your way to living a clean and sober life.
Until then, check out the rest of the blog for more posts that can help you live well in the twenty-first century.