As the opioid epidemic threatens to spiral out of control, there are unethical business offering treatment programs emerging to take advantage of the people and families that are being affected. These businesses, posing as legitimate treatment centers for addiction, promise rehabilitation for those struggling with drugs and alcohol. It’s difficult to think that there are businesses seeking to capitalize on families that are in crisis, but that is today’s reality.
There is still a stigma associated with addiction which, coupled with a lack of information and a knee-jerk reaction to look for quick fixes, means that unscrupulous providers can often find ways to manipulate families into subscribing to their services. The three main reasons that families are taken advantage of are the stigma of addiction, a lack of information or knowledge and the desire for quick solutions.
Many families put off addiction treatment until the last minute because they fear being judged by friends and relatives. Treatment providers can take advantage of this by putting pressure on families to make a quick decision without consulting other people who would be able to help. Help will appear to be a gift offered by a compassionate stranger.
It takes time and research to find the top-rated rehabs and the right type of treatment for a close family member. If it is your son or daughter, you are the best person to make that decision. Even healthcare professionals may not give the best advice if they do not know enough about the programs and options available.
The journey to recovery is an ongoing process with much research to be done as the family learns how to navigate the treatment system. It is essential to do your homework, ask for recommendations and help from people that you trust and, when considering a treatment facility, to ask a lot of questions and ensure that you get satisfactory answers.
They have easy to find contact information and a physical address. Their website should be populated with photos of their staff and facilities (and they should not be using stock images). Highly successful alcohol or drug rehabs will have all the information readily available.
Two certifications to look for are: the Joint Commission Accreditation for Addiction Treatment (JCAHO)’s Gold Seal for Behavioral Health; or a certification of the Commission on Accreditation of Rehab Facilities (CARF).
Ethical rehabs have full-time staff that are specifically qualified in addiction counseling, not just in related fields such as recovery.
If your family member has a co-occurring disorder such as anxiety, ADHD, trauma, eating disorders, gambling; their treatment needs to be integrated into the curriculum rather than being treated as a stand-alone issue.
The developmental needs of a teen differ from those of a young adult and a mature adult. Often the experiences of women and men struggling with substance use are also different and should be treated accordingly
Detox for alcohol and benzodiazepines needs to be medically supervised to prevent seizures. The program should offer 24-hour medical care and medication to relieve symptoms of withdrawal.
Check that they incorporate life skills and evidence-based treatments (some examples include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Acceptance-Commitment Therapy (ACT), Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA), Community Reinforcement and Family Training/Motivational Interviewing (CRAFT/MI), Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) and Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)). They should form the foundation for counseling and not just practiced by a few of the staff members.
The daily schedule should be pre-planned and available on request. It should include counseling sessions (both individual and group based), recreational activities, and support groups.
Family members should not be excluded from the recovery process. This may take the form of education on substance use disorders, looking at past issues that have contributed to the addiction and ways that the family can support the person in their recovery going forward.
Aftercare should be taken seriously, and a good treatment program will ensure that follow-up appointments are set up before the patient is discharged.
Costs should be clear and easy to understand. They should be communicated upfront and include insurance deductibles, co-payments that will be needed and other incidental costs. Ask about extras that might crop up such as urine screens and other tests. A quality addiction center should not pay for patient referrals.
There are some warning signs that you should be able to pick up on when considering a treatment center.
This includes any difficulty finding a physical address or direct contact number, and using stock photography in place of photos of the staff members and facilities.
The staff of a Best Rehab Center should include professional clinicians; they should have addiction counseling credentials and experience in providing evidence-based treatments.
A one-size-fits-all approach to treatment is less effective than one that is personalized to the needs of the patient. 12 Step programs are helpful, but should only form one element of the treatment process.
Big screen TVs and private rooms are nice amenities to have, but they do not contribute significantly to treatment, the focus should always be on their clinical services.
A daily structure with set counseling sessions along with recreational activities and responsibilities is a sign of a good program. If these details aren’t provided, and the center seems unwilling to give details, be wary.
If they do not allow for family involvement it is a strong sign that it is not a quality program as family forms an integral part of the recovery process.
Aftercare treatment is vital. If there is no plan for continuing care, you should be cautious, as well as if they have a standard practice of referring patients to the same outpatient programs.
Programs should designed to keep participants safe, and discharging a patient that relapses can be dangerous. A good program will have a procedure in place to address relapses which will not include kicking them out without support.
Steer clear of facilities that:
“Curing” a person with a substance use disorder is often a lifelong process. Claims that your family member will be “fixed” within a short time are not realistic, and there is no evidence to support that this style of treatment works.
Additionally, if they claim to have “high success rates,” you should be concerned. Relapse is common with substance use, and every person is different. The best rehabs in the US won’t promise a quick, easy solution.
Understanding that there are good treatment providers and unethical businesses that will take advantage of you is the first step to finding a good treatment facility. Do not allow yourself to be rushed into making a decision and ensure that all your questions are answered fully and to your satisfaction. Use our comprehensive list of things to look for in a treatment facility as well as the red flags to help you judge whether the program that you’re looking at will help your family member get the treatment they need to get started on the path to recovery.
Dr. Vikram Tarugu, M.D, is the CEO of Detox of South Florida, Inc and medical professional focused on addiction. A veteran in the medical field with over 25 years of professional experience. He is a consultant for many South Florida Rehab centers. Patients travel from allover the US to seek his help with addiction and Hepatitis C treatment.
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