Click to toggle navigation menu.


ExpertBeacon Logo

Choose the right addiction therapy program to ensure recovery

David Sack, M.D. CEO Elements Behavioral Health Elements Behavioral Health & Promises Treatment Centers

Choosing the right addiction therapy program can seem overwhelming, especially since the decision to seek help is likely to come at a time when you are feeling your most vulnerable. A basic understanding of drug addiction treatment options can help take the mystery out of the process. Consider these tips for finding the path that’s right for you.


Do get an assessment

Addiction therapy is generally offered as a continuum of care, moving from more to less intensive as the person progresses in his or her recovery. For example, it’s not uncommon to move from medically assisted detox, to one to three months at a residential rehab facility, to an intensive outpatient program or a sober living house, while attending 12-Step meetings throughout. Which treatment option, or which combination of options, is best for you depends upon where you are in your addiction. There are no hard and fast rules, but in general, the more entrenched your addiction and the more damage it is doing to your life, the higher up on the continuum you’ll begin. A professional assessment can help you make a realistic evaluation of the problem.

Do think big picture

Don’t go to treatment expecting to be fixed and sent home. It is crucial for your long-term success to realize that treatment is simply the first step on the path to recovery. When choosing residential treatment, aim to stay as long as you can manage; research confirms that those completing at least 90 days have significantly lower relapse rates. And ask about aftercare programs. A good facility will connect you with support systems that can help you navigate your recovery after you leave.

Do know your needs and wants

Treatment facilities have different philosophies and services. Spend a little time analyzing what you need and prefer. For example: Will you need detox? Do the 12 Steps resonate with you, or are you looking for an alternative? What kind of surroundings make you feel safe and comfortable? Finding a good match at the outset will pay off in the long run.

Do find treatment tailored to you

Therapy should not be one size fits all, and the best rehab facilities realize this. Ask how they plan to tailor their program to your needs, and how they’ll adjust if things aren’t working. Also, confirm that you’ll receive individual counseling. While group therapy has many advantages and is the cornerstone of most programs, it should be supplemented by one-on-one help.

Do conduct due diligence

A slick website does not always equal an effective program. Ask about accreditation (such as CARF or the Joint Commission), staff education and training, and staff-to-client ratios. Look for evidence-based practices, meaning therapies whose effectiveness is supported by research findings. Alternatives therapies can be helpful supplements, but they shouldn’t be the whole package.


Do not assume it’s best to stay close to home

The program that is the best fit should be the goal. Some travel at the outset can pay off in the long run if it means you are more likely to get the help you need for long-term success. It can also sometimes be helpful to remove yourself completely from your old environment as a way to focus completely on recovery and to help minimize triggers to use.

Do not forget the family

You aren’t the only one affected by your addiction. Seek treatment providers that bring those closest to you into the equation. It’s a way of working on family issues that can underlie your addiction as well as providing support and healing for all. Family members will also learn ways to help rather than hinder your recovery.

Do not ignore the underlying issues

About half of addictions occur alongside a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety. If one is treated without the other, long-term recovery becomes much more challenging. Pick a treatment facility that comprehensively assesses and treats the issues underlying your addiction and that can offer integrated dual diagnosis treatment.

Do not always believe success rates

Some treatment facilities boast impressive success rates, but the numbers typically mean very little because they rely on self-reporting both by the facility and by its clients. A better question than “What is your success rate?” is “How do you define success?” Ideally, success means the facility helped the client complete treatment, that his or her individual needs were recognized and met, and that the client is monitored and provided with support to remain sober after leaving the program. It also means realizing that, due to the chronic nature of the disease of addiction, more than one chance at rehabilitation will be necessary for some.

Do not assume quality treatment is out of reach

High-quality treatment can be expensive, but there are ways to deal with the costs. Insurance is accepted at many facilities, and legislation such as the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity Act has helped expand coverage to the best levels in years. In addition, many treatment centers offer payment plans. Ultimately, the cost of getting treatment has to be weighed against the financial, physical and emotional costs of not getting treatment.

Jumping cartoon

Doing your research and spending some time honestly assessing your issues and needs will boost your chances for a successful addiction therapy experience. Just remember to keep your realism firmly in place; treatment does not promise overnight success. Ultimately, the most important element in dealing with your addiction, no matter which program you choose, is your commitment to getting well.

More expert advice about Drug Addiction

Photo Credits: dilsiz/; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas -

David Sack, M.D.CEO Elements Behavioral Health

David Sack, M.D., is board certified in Psychiatry, Addiction Psychiatry, and Addiction Medicine. As CEO of Elements Behavioral Health he oversees addiction treatment programs at Promises Treatment Centers in Malibu, The Ranch in Tennessee, The ...

View Full ProfileRecent Articles