Guidelines for Choosing an Addiction Treatment Center


Choosing a treatment center for yourself or a loved one can be a daunting experience.

Thankfully, there are guidelines put together by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that you can follow. These guidelines will help you ask suitable questions to make sure you receive the best possible care, increasing the likelihood of treatment success.

Addiction Treatment Principles

  1. Effective treatment centers view addiction as a complex but treatable disease that alters an individual’s brain functioning and his or her behavior. There is risk of relapse since these changes can persist even when a substance is no longer being used.
  2. Effective treatment must be modified to fit each individual’s case, including the type of drug(s) used and the user’s unique problems, habits and personal characteristics.
  3. When addicted individuals are ready, the treatment must be immediately available or the opportunity may be lost. Early treatment is more likely to be successful than delayed treatment.
  4. It is critical that addicts remain in treatment for an adequate period of time. The amount of time depends on the addiction type and the person’s degree of need. Programs should have strategies in place to engage and maintain patients in treatment and to reinstate those who have left treatment and relapsed.
  5. Effective treatment centers provide behavioral therapies such as individual, family and group counseling. The effectiveness of the therapies used should be backed by scientific evidence and should address motivation, communication, problem solving, how to build habits that resist drug use, and ways to maintain abstinence.
  6. An important element of treatment for many individuals is the availability of medications to help them manage their cravings and stabilize their lives.
  7. Effective treatment facilities regularly reassess their patients’ treatment plans and adjust them to meet changing needs. This reassessment will include counseling, medication, medical, vocational, legal and social services.
  8. Because drug abuse and mental illnesses frequently co-occur, adequate treatment centers must asses for both and be prepared to treat both.
  9. Treatment facilities should have incentive strategies in place to encourage those who have gone through detoxification to continue treatment, since detox alone does not effectively change long-term drug habits.
  10. Effective treatment does not have to be voluntary. Criminal justice system sanctions and enticements from employers, friends and family can ultimately increase treatment entry and success rates.
  11. Because relapses can occur, it is essential that a patient's drug use is continuously monitored during treatment. This also provides patients with incentive to withstand urges to use, and the monitoring helps professionals adjust treatment plans as needed.
  12. Effective treatment centers test patients for hepatitis B and C, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other infectious illnesses. They also give risk-reduction counseling and provide medical treatment if necessary.
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