In light of the recent hype concerning the legitimacy of luxury drug rehabs/substance abuse treatment centers, it is critically important to become as best educated as to how to most effectively differentiate between “pure posh” and those facilities which utilize luxury as a complement to an already sound program. Unforunately, most folks inquiring into treatment for themselves or a loved one are commonly in a bad emotional state and can be easily swayed by a good sales pitch. Hope is a powerful thing, and we can all look back at our lives and recognize times when hope overtook intuition and later resulted in regret.
In the case of luxury addiction treatment centers that are commonly found in areas such as Malbu, California, Florida, Orange County, Arizona, etc., it is crucial to identify and assess their commitment to the overall recovery process. Luxury can be a wonderful thing if it is properly infused in order to enhance the recovery process. There are obviously many varying opinions within the professional addiction treatment community, but the common denominator is that all licensed treatment centers should focus on the greater good of the client and work diligently toward helping to best ensure one’s long-term sobriety, whatever that may entail.
It is highly encouraged for those seeking treatment for themselves or a loved one to diligently engage in the process of seeking the “right” treatment center for their specific needs. Here are a few guidelines, suggestions and questions that should be noted during this research process.:
DISCLAIMER: This article is meant simply to edcucate and create additional insight into the process of deciding on the right course of addiction treatment. While the author of this article has substantial experience within the realm of chemical dependency treatment services, he is not a physician nor is he a licensed addiction treatment specialist.
- Do some research first. Go to Google and type something which resembles “information on addiction” and read up on as much as you can. There are varying opinions on whether addiction is a disease or not, but most medical professionals do agree that addiction is a disease and is recognized as such by the majority of the medical community. There are 12 step approaches, holistic approaches, cognitive therapy, experiential therapy, etc.
- If you feel comfortable and have any friends, family or colleagues with experience in the field of treatment then definitely consider speaking with them as to what their thoughts are. As in nearly any other example in life, those closest to you and whom have no financial motive are more likely to tell it like it is.
- Next, while I hate to bring money into the equation, it is a necessary component. What can you afford? Does the person have health insurance? If so then what does it cover? You can save yourself some time by calling the number on the back of the insurance card and finding out what exactly is covered and which facilities they contract with. In many cases you will need to speak with the Mental Health Division which usually has a separate phone number.
- Be sure to have as much information as possible concerning the substances in which the patient has been abusing. Some chemicals such as ethyl alcohol and benzodiazepines (Valium, Zanax…) may require a formal medical detox and could potentially cause life-threatening conditions if the person just quits cold-turkey. Other substances such as opiates and opioids (heroin, Vicodin, Morphine, Oxycontin…) aren’t typically life threatening during withdrawal but can cause very severe flu-like symptoms which can be greatly lessened by use of certain medications. Again, we are not physicians; we are simply speaking from experience.
Some things to say and ask:
- When you begin calling or speaking with treatment centers, try to have someone else with you. It’s important that the information you get is processed with reason and soundness, and addiction – whether it’s for you or someone else you’re inquiring on behalf of – can cause substantial grief and confusion which may lead to impulsivity. Two heads are better than one.
- TELL THE ADMISSIONS COUNSELOR EVERYTHING! If you’re ashamed that your son is also shooting up heroin and you decide not to disclose that among the other things he’s abusing, then you could potentially be creating more problems. Be honest and thorough!
- Once you explain your situation be sure to ask if a medical detox is necessary. The person answering the phone will likely not be a physician and will not be able to give you a definitive yes or no, but you should ask if the in the case of a medical detox being required, will there be a physician on site or at a different location which requires travel? There are obvious advantages to an on site physician and in certain cases it really is quite important. Keep asking questions until you feel comfortable.
- What is the client to staff ratio? What types of certifications does the staff have? What levels of education and hands-on experience does the staff member have? How much one-on-one time will the client get with the assigned therapist and/or addiction counselor?
- What are their treatment modalities? (You may not know the first thing about treatment modalities, and that is ok, let the admissions counselor explain all about it to you).
- Are they a 12-step based program? Do they offer any holistic treatments within the program structure? What types of groups do they conduct on a day-to-day basis?
- Will the patient be seen and assessed by a psychiatrist to determine if there are any co-occurring mental health issues going on (depression, anxiety, grief & loss…)? And if so, will the facility take care of ensuring the medications are picked up for the client?
- What are the visitor policies? Do they offer a family group and family counseling by an MFT or another qualified specialist in order to help transition the family through this period of time, as well as to uncover and begin resolving any issues within the family dynamic?
- How long is the treatment program? What type of aftercare planning and support do they provide? FYI: Relapse is more common in cases when the client leaves treatment and goes from a structured & protected environment right back into little or no structure, and even more so if they return to their old stomping ground while having that new-found freedom, money and transportation. Transition planning is extremely important as the treatment phase nears its end.
- What types of fun activities do they offer? People in addiction often lose the ability to experience joy without the use of drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, etc., and if they can’t begin to re-learn the pure joys which life has to offer then it further sets them up for a greater likelihood of relapse.
- What kind of food do they provide? What about physical exercise? These are both important components and play integral roles in the treatment process available at many facilities.
- What about things like meditation, spirituality, etc? Addicts are said to be spiritually bankrupt and while drugs and alcohol helped to create this situation, the truth is that there almost always exists deeper underlying issues that were ironically alleviated by the use of drugs & alcohol early on before “addiction” actually set in. What elements within the program are geared to address this area?
With some of these questions you may not even know what the answer is in which you’re hoping to hear. That is why prior research about addiction can be very beneficial, but ultimately you will begin to get a sense of what level of treatment the facility offers. Listen for the details. For instance, if you ask “how much one-on-one time will the patient receive with his/her assigned therapist,” and they respond with “our clients receive quite a bit of individual therapy time” vs. “each client will receive at least one hour per day of individual therapy, and sometimes more if they’re having an especially difficult day;” which sounds better to you? If, for example, you ask them how much addiction-related experience their staff psychiatrist has and you get a reply stating that their chef was classically trained in Europe’s finest culinary academy then there may be cause for concern. There should ultimately be more emphasis placed on core purpose and treatment protocol than on the accommodations.
Upon admission to a facility, there are two things which will always be performed – aside from admission and psych-social paperwork. One, they will perform a toxicology screening (urinalysis) in order to find out exactly what substances the patient has been using. Two, they will require that all belongings and baggage are thoroughly searched by a qualified staff member in order to ensure that no contraband is taken any further within the facility. These are MUSTS, and while I would never go so far as to diminish the legitimacy of a treatment program, in the case where these two protocols were not diligently enforced it would be great cause for concern! Addicts & alcoholics whom are active in their addiction simply cannot be trusted and must be treated accordingly during the intake process in order to preserve the integrity and safety of the other clients and staff alike. This process will be performed with as much dignity and professionalism as possible, but must be performed nonetheless. The facility must have full and accurate knowledge of the chemicals in their system in order to determine the treatment & detox regimen, and likewise, must have the assurance that the new client is not bringing in anything which may pose a threat to the sobriety and well-being of the other patients.
For more unbiased information on addiction treatment you are encouraged to visit the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration Website (SAMHSA) at: www.samhsa.gov which is operated by the federal government. There is also substantial information available on the Sober Nexus Blog at: www.treatment-center-information.com. Best wishes to you during this process and remember, treatment works best when the patient is willing to let it work, so do your very best to keep a positive mindset and look toward the bright future that lies ahead rather than musty past that cannot be changed.