Factors to Consider When Picking a Rehab

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of why choosing a rehab is so difficult.

Now it is time to start talking about the steps you should follow when you are picking a rehab.

The first step is to get a better understanding of exactly what types of things you need to consider as you start your search.  Knowing what features are available will help you determine what requirements must be met for a rehab to be considered.

It is important to look at these options before you actually start trying to pick a rehab facility.

Picking a rehab when you aren’t sure yet of what features you want can be very confusing because you will be looking at different substance abuse treatment facilities that all have something different to offer.

Listed below are the different rehab options that you should consider when picking a rehab facility.  While reviewing the list, identify how important it is for that feature to be available in the facility you actually decide to use.


One of the first factors to consider when picking a rehab is whether you need them to offer a detox program.

If so, it is important to know if they provide the detox program it or arrange for local treatment.  You should also consider whether they use natural detox, medical detox, medicated detox, inpatient detox or outpatient detox.

Another important consideration is whether the cost for the detox treatment is included in the cost of the rehab or if there is an extra charge.

Type of Addiction

Some types of addictions can be treated with a basic treatment plan where people with all kinds of addictions are in the same group.   However, other addictions are better handled with a treatment that is specialized toward the addiction.  This can be especially effective when treating things like eating disorders or sexual or gambling addictions.

When you start looking for a rehab facility, you should think about whether the treatment needs to be specialized toward the addiction.

Type of Client Seeking Treatment

The type of client can also have an impact when you are picking a rehab.  Studies have shown that in some cases, grouping the same type of client together provides you with better results.

This is especially true for teens, certain types of professions, etc.  There are also programs available that have separate treatment for men and for women.

Consider whether your rehab facility needs to specialize in a particular type of client, or if you want them to cluster people based on this criteria for group therapy.

Treatment Modalities

A treatment modality is the approach taken by the substance abuse treatment center to treat problems with addiction.

Many facilities combine many different treatment modalities within the same treatment plan.  The belief is that if you treat the physical, emotional, social and spiritual self within the same treatment plan, there is a better chance that sobriety can be achieved and maintained.

Some of the most common treatment modalities for addiction include a 12-step program, cognitive behavioral therapy, medication and psychotherapy.

You must decide what type of treatment modality is best for your situation and look for facilities that can provide that type of treatment.


There are several different types of accreditation that can be held by a substance abuse treatment facility.

  • Joint Commission
  • National Committee for Quality Assurance
  • All-States and Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)

I strongly urge you to make sure that any treatment center you consider has accreditation from these organizations.


The location of the facility is another important consideration when you are picking a rehab, depending on your situation.  The decision is usually between using a local facility vs one that is much farther away.

Some experts believe local is better because features like family programs, support and aftercare can be included.  Other experts believe it is better to use a distant location so the sole focus is on recovery and there are no other influences that could derail the recovery process.


In a perfect world, you could choose the best rehab facility, regardless of the cost or payment terms.  However, most people don’t have that luxury and the cost of the treatment facility becomes important.

Treatment for addiction can be expensive.  However, you should remember that a rehab facility that is the most expensive does not necessarily mean they provide better treatment or get better results.

Some rehab facilities also offer a sliding scale related to the cost.  This means the cost of the rehab can be reduced if you do not have insurance and/or if your income is lower.

Don’t be afraid to try to negotiate regarding price. Sometimes substance abuse facilities can lower the costs a bit to fill the bed. If you are reluctant to do this contact me and I will try to help.  No guarantees, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Often, as treatment progresses the facility will strongly recommend a longer stay.  This is something to consider when weighing the affordability of a program.


Insurance coverage for rehab is becoming much more popular and can help handle some of the cost of the treatment for addiction.  However, insurance plans are all different.

You need to carefully review your policy to determine if there are restrictions. Many policies will restrict the type of rehab facility you can attend, the treatment modality, number of days, etc

This is an area where admission departments typically shine.  They are tenacious at finding insurance money (because it is in their best interest).  Though I have heard some complaints about the insurance money not coming through or patients getting thrown out when the insurance runs out.

Another thing to consider is that as treatment progresses facilities sometimes strongly recommend longer stays than insurance will pay for. A lot of people benefit from longer stays so this is something you should consider.

Payment Terms

In addition to the cost of the program, you must also consider the payment terms when you are selecting a rehab facility.  Many (but not all) facilities offer payment plans and can help with financing options for the treatment.

Other questions to consider:

  • What forms of payment are accepted?
  • Are the fees reduced if the facility isn’t full?

Dual Diagnosis

A dual diagnosis is when someone has been diagnosed with both an addiction problem and a mental illness.  It is critical for recovery and sobriety that both aspects of this diagnosis are treated.

If the person seeking substance abuse treatment has been given a dual diagnosis, you must make sure that each rehab facility you consider has the capability to handle this type of complex diagnosis.

Research consistently shows that the best treatment plan for individuals with a dual diagnosis is to treat both conditions simultaneously.

Education of the Rehab Staff

Another consideration when you are picking a rehab is the licensing of the staff.  There are many types of professionals that can work in a rehab facility.

These professional titles include:

  • M.D.
  • R.N.
  • Ph.D
  • LADC (licensed alcohol and drug counselor)
  • LPC (licensed professional counselor)
  • MFT (marriage and family therapist)
  • LCSW (licensed clinical social worker)
  • CAC (certified addictions counselor)
  • CCDP (certified co-occurring disorders counselor)

In our society we usually correlate the higher level of credentials with the best care.  While there is nothing wrong with this, it is often the person that the client spends the most time with that makes the most impact, regardless of their level.

Staff Ratio

You should also consider the ratio of staff to patients when you are trying to pick a rehab facility.  The smaller the ratio, the more individualized care will be given to the addict.  However, smaller ratios are also usually more expensive.

Group therapy will likely be included in most rehab programs.  The size of the group should also be considered when you are making a decision on which rehab to use.

Family Program

Depending on the specific situation, it can be beneficial if there is a family program included in the substance abuse treatment plan.  Addiction problems can affect the entire family and it can be helpful for everyone to be included in some portion of the recovery process.

If this applies to your case, you should make sure this is included in any facility you are considering.

Find out the extent of the family program as well as the whether additional charges are required.

Length of the Program

Most facilities start with treatment programs that run for 28 days.  However, some experts believe that a longer stay will provide a higher chance for lasting sobriety

When you are picking a rehab, you should consider the length of stay for the program.  You should also be prepared to handle the situation if the facility recommends a longer stay for treatment.

Aftercare Options

When you are trying to choose a rehab, aftercare treatment is another important consideration.   Aftercare can include a sober living home (half-way house), a follow up, refresher meetings or relapse prevention courses.

Some questions to think about are:

  • What follow-up do you offer after treatment?
  • Do you offer refresher courses or relapse prevention?
  • What is included in the cost of the aftercare program?
  • What is the cost of the aftercare program?

Most of these aftercare plans are set up for three months after the completion of the treatment.  Relapse prevention is the focus.  At the completion of three months, the plan is revised as needed.

The best case scenario is to use the after care options through the same facility where the addiction treatment occurred.

However, if you pick a rehab facility that is not local, this can be difficult.  In this case, using after care treatment at a local facility is the next best option.

Most primary facilities that are not local for you promise to supply you with an aftercare plan you can use at a local facility.  If they say this, make sure they follow through.

The most important aspect of aftercare is that everyone who finishes the treatment program for addiction, attends an aftercare program of some kind, regardless of where it is located.

Now you know about all of the things you need to take into consideration when you are picking a rehab facility.

Next, we will help you decide which of these features are important to you.

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