10 Things Rehab Facilities Won't Tell You


Sober Recovery Expert Author

As difficult as it may be, you should try to put your emotions aside when researching addiction treatment facilities. As with many other institutions, the statistics so proudly quoted to any interested party can be misleading or downright false. Being forewarned can assist you in asking appropriate questions of the rehabilitation centers under review. Be very aware of the following circumstances as you investigate several treatment facilities. You are looking at a major expense whether the treatment succeeds or fails.

1. Addiction treatment centers do not always work.

You don’t need to look at famous addiction rehab failures like Amy Winehouse, Janice Joplin or John Belushi to know that no addiction treatment facility can predict success or even improvement. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the relapse rate among drug addicts is 40-60 percent. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the treatment centers are to blame. The truth is that addiction is a complex, lifelong affliction and a tough thing to beat.

Rehab centers cannot offer guaranteed success. As you search for a treatment facility, make sure you keep these in mind—regardless of what they tell you.

2. The rates of success don’t really mean much.

Again, actual relapse and success rates are probably misleading numbers. Rates of success can mean simply the percentage of people who completed the program, regardless of the clinical outcome upon completion. A success rate could also refer to a period of post-treatment sobriety. For example, the number of months after a patient completed a program that he reports he has been sober. And, patient-reported figures may be suspect. Does every patient provide truthful reports regarding their post-treatment sobriety? Probably not. If a treatment facility’s published success rates seem too good to be true, they probably are.

3. A more expensive program doesn’t make it a better program.

A treatment center can feature ocean views from every room and cost upwards of $73,000 a month--like the Cliffside Malibu in California. Lovely views aside, results depend on the quality and expertise of the center’s professional staff. Many lower-cost facilities, especially those that rely on public funding, demand standards from their staff that is as high as the pricey, luxury facilities. When assessing treatment centers, pay attention to the quality of staff, not the quality of the view or fitness center.

4. The staff may not be well-trained or even credentialed.

Treatment counselors are the most important members of a rehab facility as they are the ones closest to the patients. Yet, according to a 2012 report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, only one state requires providers of addiction treatment to have a master’s degree. In 14 states, no license is required at all for treatment counselors, and 14 other states require only a high school diploma or GED as prerequisites before obtaining the necessary addiction counseling credentials.

Keep in mind that many facilities go far above these standards when screening and hiring counselors.

5. Rehabs scare the neighbors.

Residents in the vicinity of a potential rehab facility have fears of property devaluation, and merchants fear an upsurge in crime. There is no proof that either of these events occur near an addiction treatment facility any more than anywhere else. The treatment centers will rightfully respond that selecting a residential locale for their facility is good for acclimating addicts to the reality of daily life as part of their healing process.

6. Some addiction therapies are not based on science.

Many treatment centers boast of their new cutting-edge experimental treatments to announce their modern approach to therapy. You can find everything from acupuncture to yoga. The premise is that these alternative approaches are essential to healing the whole body, mentally and physically. There is absolutely no scientific proof that such methods add to a successful result in terms of sobriety.

7. Some treatment centers may be running a con game.

Scams have been uncovered in publicly-funded clinics in California that are similar to Medicare fraud cases where the government is billed for non-existent treatment of patients. In one case, teenagers who had no addictions whatsoever were bused in to centers from foster-care homes. The government was billed for counseling for hours where no counselors were scheduled. Such fraudulent activity was reported by CNN in their series “Rehab Racket.” The series estimated federal and state funding paid out $94 million to clinics in the two fiscal years prior to CNN’s investigation of deceptive practices.

8. Profits may take precedence over patient care.

Outside investment firms such as Bain Capital bought CRC Health Group for $723 million in 2006. The CRC Health Group now operates addiction treatment centers across the country and has expanded to more than 140 treatment centers.

Pessimists fear such investments are prone to the customary cost-cutting by corporations to improve shareholder satisfaction at the expense of patient care.

Optimists believe that the influx of money will lead to better, newer forms of treatment.

9. There is a long line for all clinical and non-clinical services.

Fortunately for those in need of a treatment facility who cannot afford rehab or are uninsured, The Affordable Care Act mandates that “all health insurance sold on health-insurance exchanges or provided by Medicaid to certain newly eligible adults…must include services for substance-use disorders.”

Unfortunately, such expanded coverage can overwhelm existing treatment facilities as they struggle to meet the increased demand. Addicts may be put on a waiting list for admission and, once they do get admitted, may suffer long waits for services.

10. You may do better in an outpatient program that allows you to stay at home.

I saved the best for last. Staying a month or more in an inpatient rehab facility is probably the classic treatment model, but it is far from the only one. Depending on the patient, the classic model may not even be the best model. Studies have shown that success rates in managing sobriety are just as high for outpatient programs as they are for inpatient ones.

So, who really needs residential rehab care? Anyone with medical issues does, as well as the addict that must remove himself from his drug-filled environment in order to free himself from serious drug or alcohol dependency. Additionally, withdrawal or detox from some addictive substances requires medical intervention that is best managed in an inpatient medical setting. Speak with a doctor about your addiction, and the safest options for safe rehabilitation.

If you or someone you know is seeking help for behavioral, alcohol or drug addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 866-606-0182 to start the path to recovery today.

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