While choosing the best available program of course sounds good in theory, in practice, when faced with the hundreds of available options, facilities, and programming structures; it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the complexity of a decision that you feel pressured to get right. The stakes are too high, and no one wants to make a mistake at this critical stage in the process.
I’ve been through the process twice, and I know that the sheer variety of options make the choice problematic, but by thinking about the criteria that you value most, you can generally eliminate the majority of the facilities from contention and then just pick the one that feels best to you after that. I know it doesn’t sound very scientific, but it comes down to your comfort level with the facility and with the staff, and ultimately, you just have to choose one and hope for the best. Remember that getting into a rehab is always better sooner than later! The programs and facilities that I value may not match your needs and wants, and everyone has unique requirements, but the list of evaluation criteria as follows may help to get you thinking about the kinds of programs you might want to see in a facility.
1 Are medical professionals available around the clock?
Going through detox is a tough experience, and you don’t want to be at a facility that doesn’t offer the professional and certified doctors and nurses you need to help minimize the pain and increase the safety of this transition into sobriety. Additionally, even after detox, most addicts remain in a state of somewhat compromised health from their period of abuse, and having medical professionals always on staff ensures that the period of rehab improves the physical health of the body as it also leads you on the path to sobriety.
Obviously a facility that employs doctors and nurses around the clock will reflect this level of care in their fee structure, but I feel that during the initial month of rehab, constant medical attention can be very beneficial.
2 Is individual counseling a priority?
Substance abuse doesn’t occur in a vacuum, and for most of us the most necessary accomplishment of a month’s rehab is to work through the emotional or social difficulties that led us to abuse, and keep us abusing. Self awareness occurs during meditation and self reflection, and also during peer therapy, but it’s really during the individual sessions with a therapist that resolutions to these problems arise, and the strategies necessary for healing are developed. A regular period of individual counseling must be considered a priority in any rehabilitation facility.
3 Does the rehab facility offer cognitive and behavioral teaching?
Unfortunately no one strategy of rehabilitation will work for everyone, and as such the best facilities will offer a variety of strategies and teaching tools designed to give the recovering addict a number of recovery options on the path to sobriety. One of the most widely successful methods for long term sobriety is cognitive modification. Cognitive modification therapy aims to teach the addict to change the way they think in certain situations, to recognize the triggers that lead them to abuse, and to take responsibility for getting themselves in any situation that makes further abuse likely. This cognitive therapy gives a recovering addict the concrete skills they’ll need to resist the temptations that will inevitably arise after rehab has ended.
4 Is family counseling incorporated, and is the facility close enough to make family involvement feasible?
Continuing sobriety is more probable when the recovering addict receives the educated and empowered support of the family; and as such the family should participate in the rehabilitation process. Look for a facility that offers at least a few days of family involvement, and that will ideally teach the family about addiction, help the family heal some of the pain that the addict has caused, and teach the family how they can best help the recovering addict stay strong and stay sober.
Only the addict can choose to remain sober, but a family that supports, and never enables, makes sobriety a lot easier to sustain. Because the family will be involved in the process, the location of the facility becomes important. The facility should be within an easy day’s commute from the home, and should never be so far as to present a barrier to family participation in the process.
5 Is the facility comfortable?
No one goes to rehab for a country club experience, and rehab is almost never "fun", but that doesn’t mean that the suffering of rehab needs to be compounded through uncomfortable or un-private surroundings. Choose a rehab facility (within your budget of course) that offers the most comfortable living environments, the best sports and exercise facilities and the most tranquil and meditative surroundings. Recovering from an addiction is hard, and a comfortable and relaxing rehab facility lets the addict focus solely on getting better, and never on the discomfort or frustration of the facility. It doesn’t have to be luxurious, but it needs to comfortable, peaceful and private.
6 Does the religious tone match the beliefs of the addict?
Christian recovery facilities, that use the strength of Jesus Christ, prayer, and a study of the scriptures, can be very effective, but they are obviously not a good match for someone without a belief in God or Christianity. Look carefully at how religious elements are used in the programming, and make sure the teachings of the facility match the beliefs of the addict.
7 What about aftercare programming?
Recovery doesn’t stop with the end of rehab, and most addicts that remain sober need to stay in some form of a recovery support program. If the rehabilitation facility is located close to home, do they offer aftercare support and programming? The recovering addict may not choose to use this available support, and may prefer AA or NA meetings for example, but it should be an available option.
8 Does the facility feel right?
The last criteria in evaluating a rehab facility is a bit of an intangible, akin to saying "trust your gut" but I think that it’s an important factor in any decision. If you don’t like a major aspect of any facility, even of you can’t express in words what it is you don’t care for, then there is probably a better facility available elsewhere. You need to be very comfortable with any rehab environment, and if something feels wrong, choose another.
Do your best…and hope for the best Getting into any rehab is preferable to continuing abuse, so although the choice available can make selecting a facility overwhelming, you need to just do your best, think a little, and make the decision that feels right.