Plenty of folks who recognize they need help find themselves asking, “where are the best drug rehab centers?” as they begin their journey toward sobriety. After all, if you’re suffering from an illness, you want to know who the best doctor is that can treat your particular condition, and addiction and alcoholism are no different.
The question isn’t where are the best drug rehab centers, however; it’s what makes a drug and alcohol rehab qualified to best help you with your problem. After all, as the National Institute on Drug Abuse points out, “In the United States, more than 14,500 specialized drug treatment facilities provide counseling, behavioral therapy, medication, case management, and other types of services to persons with substance use disorders.”
Quantity isn’t the same thing as quality, however, so let’s take a look at what makes those facilities “the best,” in terms of providing you with the treatment you need.
Where Are the Best Drug Rehab Centers: Quantity
It’s important to understand the drug and alcohol treatment, like all health care, is a business — and unfortunately, business is booming. According to the Centers for Disease Control, for a one-year period ending in September 2020, there were more than 87,000 overdose deaths in the United States — a record number. In addition, the CDC reports, “Excessive alcohol use is responsible for more than 95,000 deaths in the United States each year, or 261 deaths per day.”
It’s little wonder, then, that despite data collected by Research and Markets last year showing there are more than 14,000 treatment facilities in the United States that provided rehab services to 3.7 million people, “many more need it and facilities are filled to capacity.” The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that “among people aged 12 or older in 2019, 7.8 percent (or 21.6 million people) needed substance use treatment in the past year” … but only “1.5 percent (or 4.2 million people) received any substance use treatment in the past year.”
Put simply: There’s a lot of places to choose from when you’re wondering where are the best drug rehab centers, but not all of them have the ability to meet your needs. A number of factors, many of them financial, can prevent individuals from getting quality treatment, and resort-like facilities in states like California have made rehab more like a spa stay, with the focus on rest and recuperation, than on true psychological change. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but when you can’t afford $80,000 for a 30-day stay at such a facility, you need to look for cost-effective solutions that still offer quality treatment.
Writing for the online publication Vox, George Lopez spent much of 2019 looking at the rehab industry, and what he found was that “experts emphasized that patients should go for the most comprehensive and individualized treatments possible. It’s crucial not to settle for a one-size-fits-all approach, even if those worked for someone you know. Addiction is a complicated illness that varies from individual to individual, so different approaches can work better for different people. Programs should assess patients and adapt based on their needs.”
And while some patients may feel like they “need” top-shelf treatment because they associate opulence with quality, that’s not always the case, according to treatment center CEO Howard Samuels, who spoke to U.S. News and World Report: “Don’t go to a rehab charging $50,000 a month just because it’s in Beverly Hills or Malibu, has 800-thread count bedsheets and gives clients the option [of] not attending group or going to 12-step meetings. It’s a rip-off.”
Where Are the Best Drug Rehab Centers: Quality
Again, there’s nothing wrong with asking where are the best drug rehab centers, but if you understand that amenities don’t necessarily equate to quality, you can begin to focus on what will truly make a difference. And what might those be? No two programs are alike, according to the NIDA: “Treatment approaches and individual programs continue to evolve and diversify, and many programs today do not fit neatly into traditional drug addiction treatment classifications.”
There are, however, some general treatment paths that are common across the board, starting with medical detox (also known as medically managed withdrawal), which is considered the first stage of rehab: “Detoxification, the process by which the body clears itself of drugs, is designed to manage the acute and potentially dangerous physiological effects of stopping drug use … detoxification alone does not address the psychological, social, and behavioral problems associated with addiction and therefore does not typically produce lasting behavioral changes necessary for recovery. Detoxification should thus be followed by a formal assessment and referral to drug addiction treatment.”
So what does treatment look like after detox? As the NIDA points out, it can include:
- Long-term residential treatment, which “provides care 24 hours a day, generally in non-hospital settings,” wherein each patient is part of an overall therapeutic community, or TC. “TCs focus on the ‘resocialization’ of the individual and use the program’s entire community — including other residents, staff, and the social context — as active components of treatment. Addiction is viewed in the context of an individual’s social and psychological deficits, and treatment focuses on developing personal accountability and responsibility as well as socially productive lives.” Activities are designed “to help residents examine damaging beliefs, self-concepts, and destructive patterns of behavior and adopt new, more harmonious and constructive ways to interact with others.”
- Short-term residential treatment, which “provide intensive but relatively brief treatment based on a modified 12-step approach. These programs were originally designed to treat alcohol problems, but during the cocaine epidemic of the mid-1980s, many began to treat other types of substance use disorders. The original residential treatment model consisted of a 3- to 6-week hospital-based inpatient treatment phase followed by extended outpatient therapy and participation in a self-help group, such as AA.”
- Outpatient treatment, which “Outpatient treatment varies in the types and intensity of services offered.” While more suitable for those with an outside support system or who can’t take off of work to stay in a facility, such programs are only for several hours each day and rely heavily on group therapy sessions.
So How Do You Find These Rehabs?
So where are the best drug rehab centers? Many of them tout their effectiveness, but as a potential customer or patient, it’ll be up to you to find out of the facilities you’re considering can meet your needs. Fortunately, there are some suggested inquiries you can make that can address some of those concerns. Some of those might include:
- Does a facility offer dual diagnosis treatment? Many drug problems go hand-in-hand with psychiatric issues, and as Lopez points out, “if these aren’t treated as well, recovery can be much more difficult — if, for example, a person is using drugs to self-medicate depression or anxiety.”
- How is Medication Assisted Treatment, or M.A.T., used? Some programs offer buprenorphine tapers during the detox process, or naltrexone as a means of helping those who complete treatment overcome drug cravings. M.A.T. has a place in treatment, and it’s important to understand a facility’s philosophy.
- What is a facility’s success rate? According to Lopez, “addiction treatment typically succeeds 50 to 60 percent of the time. If a program claims a success rate of 80 percent or more, it’s likely not being honest with you. Find out how treatment centers track outcomes, and beware unrealistic promises.”
- Ask about the staff, according to an NBC News report: “What’s the staff-to-patient ratio? The lower the ratio, the better … does the facility have a medical director on staff? Are the doctors associated with the program certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine?”
- What sort of treatments does a facility offer? Lopez says to “look for evidence-based treatments like medications, cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and contingency management.”
- Another recommendation from NBC: “What kinds of support are offered after treatment? Does the program have an ‘alumni’ program that offers followup, and does it help families put together an after-care plan?”
- What is a facility’s track record? As Ruben Castaneda, writing for U.S. News and World Report, puts it, “Shy away from rehab centers that haven’t been in business for at least five years … some of these facilities may be fine, but others could be opportunistic, trying to take advantage of the high demand for such services.
- Perhaps most importantly, does the facility accept your particular health insurance plan? As Lopez puts it, a facility that “has connections with health insurance companies” can be a good sign that its services are recognized by insurance providers as effective.
Asking those questions might not reveal where are the best drug rehab centers, but it can put you a step closer to finding the right drug rehab center that meets your needs. Quality care can make all the difference, and some of the most effective facilities may not be considered “the best,” but the work they do for patients can and does change lives.