This article was written by Nick Goldberg and published by RCA
The challenge of finding the best inpatient drug rehab center
When you or a loved one is suffering from the disease of addiction, you want a treatment facility you can trust—a rehab that’s reliable.
With the expansion in recent years of inpatient drug and alcohol treatment centers, there are now over 14,000 drug rehabs in the U.S. alone. A number of them, however, are shoddy or outright fraudulent. And even those that are above board will vary in quality and services.
How, then, are you to find the best inpatient drug rehab center for you or your loved one?
Here we assemble the most important considerations to help you find the one that’s right for you.
What to look for in an inpatient drug rehab center
- Accreditation. The gold standard in treatment accreditation is the Joint Commission, whose accreditation indicates compliance with the highest national standards for safety and quality of care, as well as an ongoing commitment to improve patient treatment. While you might find inpatient rehabs that fall short in other ways, despite having this accreditation, you would only want to consider those places that are certified according to this standard.
- Continuum of care. Beware of places offering a quick fix or onetime cure after detox or inpatient. Recovery is a process, requiring a solid foundation followed by attentive care in later stages. Whether you start your recovery journey with outpatient treatment (including digital or telehealth options) or enter it after inpatient, it will provide you with lasting resources through individual, group and family therapy as well as through involvement in 12-Step programs.
- Co-occurring conditions. It is quite common for people who deal with addiction or substance use disorder (SUD) also to struggle with mental health disorders, like anxiety and depression, among others. These symptoms can make your addiction worse and vice versa. Find a facility that treats co-occurring mental health issues in tandem with your substance use disorder, rather than treating the symptoms of addiction in isolation.
- Evidence-based addiction treatments. You want a program whose therapeutic approaches are rooted in evidence, demonstrating their effectiveness in treating a significant number of people suffering from SUD over time. Some evidence-based therapies include cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing and positive psychology, among others. Be careful of places with exotic offerings, especially if they don’t also offer proven clinical regimens such as these.
- Family program. As addiction afflicts both individual and family, recovery ideally should involve the family as well. With research showing a connection between family involvement and increased rates of successful treatment and long-term recovery, a comprehensive inpatient rehab will integrate the family into a holistic treatment program. This could include drug and alcohol addiction help for family members to provide you and your family with various support services, as well as family support groups, therapy, webinars & events for addiction.
- Wide range of insurance options. Inpatient rehab can be costly. Insurance not only helps cover the costs, but is also an indication that you’re dealing with a legitimate facility. To satisfy both ends, look for a place that is in-network with most major insurance plans to make treatment affordable and accessible. A credible rehab will also provide financial counseling at the outset to help you navigate the cost of care.
- Licensed, experienced staff. A trustworthy rehab will employ the highest staff standards across the board, from the medical team to patient advocates, therapists to service support. The treatment team should have extensive experience treating both substance abuse as well as mental health disorders generally. Therapists should be licensed clinicians, Masters-level or higher, who treat both individuals and families. The physicians should be board-certified in addiction, psychiatry, internal medicine and other relevant specialties. The nursing staff should include nurse practitioners, registered nurses and licensed practice nurses—all of whom are specially trained at dealing with substance use disorders.
- Location. It used to be that inpatient rehab meant flying to Florida. But this isn’t always feasible or desirable. Having a local treatment facility removes the burden of travel and allows you to stay connected to your community and family, further facilitating the process of recovery. While there are fine facilities you could travel to, the value of neighborhood care cannot be overstated.
- Long-term recovery support. Recovery from addiction is an ongoing process, a way of life free from drugs and alcohol. A good inpatient treatment center, committed to comprehensive care, will provide the groundwork for a lifetime of recovery both through a foundation in 12-Step programs but also by furnishing the infrastructure for an ongoing peer-support system. Look, for example, for a rehab with something like an Alumni Association to maintain a long-term recovery community and help others get on the path of recovery as well.
- Medication. Many people begin inpatient drug and alcohol treatment with medically monitored detoxification. In order to detox in a safe and comfortable way, these medications are crucial both in managing withdrawal symptoms and also in providing comfort during periods of mental unease. At the other end of the medication spectrum, medication assisted treatment (MAT), using Methadone, Suboxone or Vivitrol, have been shown to promote better outcomes in treating opioid addiction in the long term.
- Relapse treatment. Ideally, relapse wouldn’t happen. But the reality is that it’s part of many people’s journey to recovery. A good inpatient rehab will have a program to deal with it, recognizing when a higher level of care is called for. An adequate treatment plan addressing the re-occurrence of SUD symptoms will involve a deep look into what has worked and what has not, affording greater accountability and easing re-entry.
- Specialized inpatient rehab programs. While what we note here are largely general features which distinguish a reputable inpatient drug rehab center from the rest, and apply broadly to the wide range of people who are seeking its services, it is also important to have specialized inpatient programs that take the unique needs and identities of its diverse patient population into account. Such inpatient offerings might include programs specifically tailored to the needs of young adults, older adults, first responders, members of a faith-based community, those dealing with trauma, or returning after a relapse.
Bringing all these features together, the general takeaway is that the best inpatient drug rehabs are those which combine comprehensive treatment with individualized care.