How to Find the Right Addiction Treatment Center for You (Expert Round-Up)

You or someone you love is struggling with addiction.

This is a trying time for you and your family, and you are desperately looking for help.

Amidst all this, you're expected to wade through all the different treatment options, figure out what type of treatment is best, and accurately discern between legitimate facilities and scam rehabs.

We asked the experts for tips on how to find out what kind of treatment is best for you...

And remember: You can always message us on the Recovery X page and we will help you find all the resources you need, free of charge.

Ellen Van Vechten, JD, MSW, CADC
author of
"On the Other Side of Chaos, Understanding the Addiction of a Loved One"

"When an individual has accepted that they need help, they have already cleared a major obstacle to recovery."

There are many different paths to wellness and finding the most appropriate treatment can be daunting, especially when in the midst of a crisis. When an individual has accepted that they need help, they have already cleared a major obstacle to recovery. To move forward, it is helpful to break things down and take things step-by-step. The first step is to obtain a clinical assessment, which is a clinical interview by a trained and licensed drug and alcohol counselor or other addiction specialist. A physician referral is not necessary, and individuals can self-refer for a clinical assessment. During an assessment, inquiries about the use of alcohol and other drugs are placed in the context of a holistic, biopsychosocial evaluation. The assessment process is designed to gather information relevant to application of the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorders that are classified as mild, moderate, or severe. The severity of the diagnosis will inform recommendations for an appropriate level of care, ranging along a continuum from educational counseling to long-term residential treatment. The background and history obtained during an assessment can also identify any special circumstances (such as a history of trauma or abuse) that may have contributed to the development of the disease and thus impact the selection of appropriate care.

Following a clinical assessment and diagnosis of a substance use disorder, an individual will receive a recommendation for an appropriate level of care, such as intensive outpatient or long-term residential care. That recommendation forms the basis for further inquiry regarding the range of potential treatment options. It is suggested that individuals investigate a full range of options identified from all available sources before determining which treatment program best meets individual needs and is consistent with available financial resources. Individuals can look to the preferred provider network of any available insurance, seek recommendations from the primary care provider, the facility that conducted the assessment, or other addiction specialists. The website of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a branch of the US Department of Health and Human Services, provides searchable directories of treatment facilities and providers offering medication-assisted treatment of opioid use disorders, as well as information on how to locate low cost and zero cost treatment options. SAMHSA also maintains a national toll-free helpline providing free and confidential information for individuals and family members facing issues related to substance abuse and mental health (1-800-662-HELP). The US Department of Veteran Affairs provides an online tool to search for treatment for veterans. See https://www.va.gov/directory/guide/SUD.asp.

Dr. Tom Doub
Chief Clinical Director at American Addiction Centers

"Just as with any product or service, greater transparency always benefits the customer."

It can be difficult and confusing to navigate the healthcare system, and that is no different when seeking treatment for addiction. At a basic level, one should look for well-established organizations that are fully licensed and accredited. It is also important to look for outcomes data if available. Treatment should be evidence-based and facilities should publish comprehensive reports on their outcomes. Be suspicious of facilities that claim 90% success or don’t provide detailed background information supporting their outcomes.

For starting a search, there are excellent resources online that can assist families who are looking for particular specialty or personal preference (e.g., co-occurring mental health diagnoses). Then the patient or their family should speak to a professional at the facility to discuss their specific circumstances and determine what services would be most appropriate.

In the past, individuals and families had to rely on word of mouth and specialized “interventionists” (who often have financial relationships with specific facilities) to make a decision. Fortunately the internet now provides a wealth of good information to allow people to sort through the sometimes overwhelming array of treatment options and find the correct fit for them. Like yelp and opentable for restaurants, rehabs.com provides a listing of addiction providers nationwide with detailed information on treatment specialties and comprehensive reviews from former patients. It is important to be a selective and informed consumer and use these resources to compare options.

Just as with any product or service, greater transparency always benefits the customer. Healthcare has come a long way in recent years with published benchmarks for quality and safety, which was required through federal mandate. This information now allows rankings of hospitals [health.usnews.com] even down to specific specialties. Behavioral health and addiction treatment have not received as much attention but would be well served to follow a similar path and establish national standards for quality. While many of the best providers nationally have taken the lead in publishing outcomes, there are not consistent standards and guidelines. If consistent outcomes for quality and safety were tracked and reported across the industry, it would take much of the guesswork out of the process for families looking for excellent treatment options.

Kristen Fuller M.D.
the Center for Discovery

"It is common for individuals to ask questions regarding insurance, cost and length of treatment but one of the biggest mistakes many individuals make is not asking the right questions."

Whether you have a substance abuse disorder, an eating disorder or a mental health disorder, finding a reputable treatment center can be challenging. It is common for individuals to ask questions regarding insurance, cost and length of treatment but one of the biggest mistakes many individuals make is not asking the right questions. Below are questions that every potential client should ask their treatment center:

  •  Do you treat co-occurring disorders?
  •  Do you have an aftercare program?
  •  Does your staff have updates state licensure and credentials
  •  Is your center state licensed and properly credentialed by the Joint Commission and Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation?
  •  Do you have a multidisciplinary treatment team that includes therapists, dietitians, physicians and ancillary staff?
  •  Do you accept insurance? If so, what kind?
  •  Do you advocate for and provide family-based therapy?
  • What type of therapies do you offer?
  • Do you offer medical detoxification?

 How do you know which treatment center is right for me? First and foremost, your treatment center should be credentialed and should be able to provide every type of service that you need. Once the above check boxes are fulfilled, the next most important aspect of seeking a treatment center is a matter of trust and comfort. Do you feel comfortable with the treatment team? Do you trust them with your care? Does your family feel comfortable with every aspect of your treatment plan? In other words, you should be interviewing your treatment center in order to make sure that they are not only competent but that you feel at ease with the individuals who will be treating you.

There are many great directories online that advocate for specific treatment centers. Psychology Today, NAMI, Eating Disorder Hope and NEDA are all recognized organizations that provide a list of treatment centers. Keep in mind that reading reviews online can be a double-edge sword; oftentimes clients may be paid to write reviews and most of the reviews are very subjective. Client online reviews may or may not be the most accurate way to learn about a treatment center so it may be better to stick with recommendations from well known organizations or seek recommendations from your doctors.