Worried man researching substance use treatment center

Choosing a Substance Use Treatment Center

The decision to enter a substance use treatment center is a pivotal moment in anyone’s life.


Choosing the right substance use treatment center can feel like a big responsibility. We want to do our best for ourselves or our loved one, but the search can feel overwhelming. Let us help you make sense of the addiction treatment landscape. We’ll begin with the fundamentals everyone should look for. After that, we’ll discuss what program features might best meet your needs and potential red flags to watch for. Finally, we’ll summarize it all with some handy lists to assist you in your decision. By the end, you will know the right questions to ask and be ready to make informed decisions about treatment. Let’s begin!



What Should a Substance Use Treatment Center Offer?

The key to choosing the right drug rehab program is knowing the essentials to look for and then identifying your needs and wants. Start by prioritizing your needs. Then consider your wants and what resources you have. First, let’s start with those must-haves you should expect in the best drug rehab programs. Here are the core features everyone should look for:


Accreditation and Licensing

Always choose a state-licensed substance use treatment center. It is also wise to select a program accredited by at least one of the major medical commissions. The Joint Commission (formerly JCAHO) and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) are the most prominent. To check on the licensure of a facility, ask the program’s staff itself or contact the Department of Health and Human Services in the state where the drug rehab programs are. Confirming that you have a licensed and accredited rehab ensures that state and industry standards of care are met. Eliminating any program that lacks state licensing and at least one reputable accreditation will help narrow your focus.


Safe, Medically Supervised Detox

When receiving treatment, the most immediate need is usually medical stabilization. An addicted person has changed their physiology. They cannot abruptly stop all substances without some negative physical effects. Sometimes called withdrawal, these can range from anxiety and insomnia to dangerous seizures that can be fatal. It’s important not to panic but take this seriously. In many cases, a safe, medically supervised detox is the best and safest way to begin treatment.


Evidence-Based Substance Use Treatment

Recovery is tough. Effective drug rehab programs greatly improve a patient’s chances of success. You want the best help you can get. But how do you know if a program uses effective methods of treatment? One of the best ways is to look for evidence-based substance use treatment. Evidence-based treatments are scientifically validated methods of care. That means clinical research has shown they work. Look for a program that offers evidence-based substance use treatment. Make sure they can explain how they achieve this too.


Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Research shows that at least 64% of addicted people can be categorized as having dual diagnoses. A dual diagnosis means that someone has both a substance use disorder and another co-occurring mental health disorder. The additional diagnoses can range from depression and anxiety to PTSD to disordered eating. Many people with co-occurring disorders are not aware of their condition until properly diagnosed. Receiving dual diagnosis treatment is essential for lasting recovery among these patients. You can live a happy, healthy and successful life in recovery. A key part of achieving it is accurate diagnosis and treatment of any conditions you may have. Untreated or unmanaged mental health disorders are often a factor in relapse. Insist on dual diagnosis treatment, even if you aren’t certain about if an underlying condition is present.



About Detox and Levels of Care

The different phases of treatment at a drug and alcohol rehab are commonly referred to as “.” It’s best not to get too mired in the details of how they work, but it is helpful to know what they are. The first level to consider is medical detox.


Here are just some of the conditions which will usually require a medical detox:

  • Daily or almost daily drinking for more than 1-2 drinks.
  • Any history of seizures, whether in withdrawal or not.
  • Regular use of benzodiazepines like Xanax, Klonopin or Valium, for example.
  • Polysubstance abuse; means mixing several drugs or alcohol.


You should not try to determine the need for a medical detox on your own. The information above is to help you know what to expect, but only a trained professional can properly assess the need for medical detox. It is wise to choose a substance use treatment center that offers medical detox on-site. This way, they can provide this most intensive level of care at their facility rather than referring you out to a hospital or third party. Most patients find it a little easier to complete their treatment in a single program rather than transferring in and out of facilities. On-site medical detox is also usually a sign of a well-established substance use treatment center because it requires 24-hour medical staff on duty, licensing and certification.


The levels of care typically offered in drug rehab programs include detox, residential, partial-hospitalization (PHP) and intensive outpatient (IOP). All you really need to know about these is that detox is the most intensive, and they become decreasingly intensive as you go down the list. A rehab that offers more levels of care is generally able to treat a broader range of needs. While some returning patients find that intensive outpatient treatment alone is sufficient, the success rates for people who complete a full course of treatment are much higher.


Remember that it’s impossible to get “too much help,” but the consequences of not getting enough help can be serious. It’s best to defer to the experts when it comes to levels of care. This information is provided to help you decide on a substance use treatment center. If you have questions about detox or the other levels of care, we’re happy to help. Call Promises Brazos Valley at (800) 393-0391



Features to Look for in a Substance Use Program

A good drug and alcohol rehab program will offer evidence-based treatment and what is called continuum of care. Continuum of care means that a program supports the patient through all the critical stages of their treatment and early recovery. The ideal is a rehab that offers detox and inpatient care and can follow through with intensive outpatient, aftercare planning and a thorough alumni department. It means getting support from start to finish.


A good alumni department such as Promises Brazos Valley’s Rooted Program can help nurture new recovery and provide confidence as you find your footing. Virtual intensive outpatient treatment or VIOP is a cutting-edge form of treatment that has proven especially effective for patients who cannot be away from home. Many patients also find gender-specific program features useful. They can be especially helpful for anyone coping with trauma or sexual assault, but nearly anyone can benefit. People coping with trauma might also seek a program that offers trauma-informed care. Promises Brazos Valley offers both trauma-informed care and gender-specific treatment programs for both women and men.



Red Flags in a Treatment Center

While your focus should be on the features you want in a rehab program, it is also helpful to know the red flags and signs of a potentially bad or disreputable drug and alcohol treatment program. While most facilities are doing their best to help people, not all are created equal, and some “bad eggs” are out there. Some of the things to look for include “guaranteed recovery” or dubious success rate claims. Any facility that seems too “salesy” or claims 90% “success rates” is suspect.

By law, treatment facilities are not allowed to entice patients to treatment with offers of free airfare or pay them bonuses for referring new patients. Any facility that says they will give you a free plane ticket, pay your deductible or offer anything along those lines is unethical and should be scratched off your list.

Another red flag is any program that is evasive about its location or lacks a good set of clear pictures on its website of the facility and accommodations. If you see pictures that look like a beach in Tahiti, but the program is 25 miles inland, that’s a red flag for sure. High-quality, ethical programs are available; there’s no reason to waste your time with any place that seems even a little shady.


Putting It All Together

We at Promises Brazos Valley hope you found this guide informative and helpful. Choosing the right substance use treatment is a big decision. Equipping yourself with the facts, listing your needs and wants and knowing what to look out for will make it a lot easier. We’ve covered a lot of information above, so here is a quick summary you can use to make a checklist for yourself.


Must Haves:

  • State licensing and accreditation by The Joint Commission or CARF
  • Safe medical detox offered
  • Individual (one-on-one) therapy
  • Dual-diagnosis treatment
  • Evidence-based treatment
  • Continuum of care, aftercare
  • Alumni program


Features to Look For:

  • On-site medical detox
  • Treatment at one campus
  • Gender-specific treatment
  • Trauma-informed care
  • Wellness programs


Red Flags to Avoid:

  • Guarantees of recovery or dubious success rate claims
  • Offers of free airfare or “referral fees” for referring new patients
  • No or few pictures on its website or pictures that don’t represent the actual location
  • Evasive or vague about its location
  • Evasive or vague about insurance coverage
  • No medical doctors on staff


Promises Brazos Valley is ready to help you or a loved one begin their recovery journey. Please don’t hesitate to call us with any questions about treatment at our program or any recovery-related matter. We are happy to help. You can reach us at (800) 393-0391 or submit a form through our contact page here if you would like us to reach out to you. You deserve the miracle of recovery in your life and we can’t wait to help make that happen for you!

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