rehab research

25 Questions Before Sending Someone You Love to Rehab

We developed this questionnaire because numerous times we have been consulted about what to look for when choosing a rehab center. These questions were created from AARG’s extensive first hand knowledge within the field of addiction treatment. Use this as a tool during the process of vetting a rehab center. Remember, you are the client and you have the power to choose when given the tools. Please contact us if you have further questions or need help finding a rehab to suit your needs. Here are the questions and answers.

What is the centers primary treatment specialty?

  • Rehabs will generally specialize in substance abuse, eating disorders, trauma or mental health. Most will say they treat all of them or call themselves (co-occurring or dual diagnosis) but from what we find the first area they list is usually the most directed area of their program. Contact us if you have further questions.
  • Specialized mental health or dual diagnosis facilities generally prescribe much larger quantities of medications compared to others. So if you are hoping to try a more holistic approach with minimal medication involvement this may not be the best option. Often we have seen addicts think they need serious mental health treatment but when they get clean and chemical free their mind clears and their chemicals begin to balance naturally. Often times they end up requiring a minimal amount of medication. Every program should have a doctor on staff or independently affiliated to give each person specific medical attention on an individual and as needed basis. Always consult a doctor when wondering about specific medical needs.

Treatment modality?

  • The common treatment types marketed these days are 12-step, non 12-step(often heavily therapeutic), smart recovery, medication assisted treatment MAT programs(use medication to minimize cravings throughout the entirety of the stay and thereafter), and holistic. You want to know specifically the type of treatment you will be experiencing. If you attend a MAT program you can plan on continuing medications for cravings after leaving the facility, where a holistic program will likely not do that but you will have a stricter regimen of supplements and self help activities post treatment.

Is the facility an inpatient residential type rehab? Are they licensed to detox within this facility?

  • If you are going to be using substances up to the day you enter rehab you will most likely need to detox. Clarify that the place you are going to admit to detox’s on site so you don’t have to spend the first few days elsewhere and then move.

What are options when concluding the inpatient rehab stay?

  • Many programs now include aftercare facilities that encompass outpatient counseling as well as communal living environments. These can be good options if the client enjoys his/her peers and treatment team. If the facility doesn’t have one within its program where do they recommend? If it is a different company etc. you should call them specifically and ask these questions again.
  • AARG specializes in screening facilities for effectiveness 

Institutional or residential setting?

  • If your going to rehab locally you likely know the specifics of the facility but if your taking a bus or plane you want to know that what your planning on for accommodations is what you get. Verify that the pictures of the facility on the website are where you will be staying. You will want to know if it is a commercial like hospital building or a residential home feel.

What is the exact address of where I will be staying and address of where I will be receiving treatment if different?

  • Often times programs have satellite locations that they send clients to for various reasons such as census, amount of money paying, etc. It is wise to know exactly where you will be placed before you arrive so you don’t get shuffled around.

How often will they see medical and clinical professionals and within how long when admitting and paperwork is complete?

  • These are the one-on-one treatment areas where clients can often blossom. You want to know how much individual time you will have in front of professionals. Two therapy sessions per week minimum is standard when in inpatient treatment, plus any additional therapeutic needs. As far as the medical doctor, how often will he/she see clients upon their admission to the program and how many weekly follow ups? A good doctor will see a patient every few days after detox once a client is stable and daily during detox with the aid of licensed nurses.

Is the rehab accredited with SAMHSA, CARF or the Joint Commission in addition to state license requirements?

  • If you are attending an inpatient or outpatient rehab it is a good idea to go somewhere that is accredited by one of the above organizations. State licenses are very cookie cutter and don’t require nearly as high of standards of care. (If you are attending an aftercare program such as a sober living or halfway house they will not have this available to them but they should be a member of their city’s local recovery housing board. If they are going to outpatient treatment than the outpatient center should have one of the accreditations listed above. Visiting each accreditation website will allow you to look up a particular facility. Most facilities that have accreditations will have it posted on their websites.

What should I bring to rehab

  • Don’t bring anything you would be upset about if you never saw it again. This is like summer camp when you were a kid. Things will disappear, get legs and walk away. Hopefully not often but it tends to happen. Limit the amount of sentimental pieces and items of value that you bring. Its okay to bring money but probably shouldn’t bring a bunch of cash. Also, get rid of the drugs and alcohol before arriving if possible. It is highly probable that any controlled medications you have will be discontinued until further evaluation from a doctor.  If you’re a smoker show up with enough cigarettes to get you through a few rough days if the facility allows smoking.

What does a day consist of and do they have an example treatment or daily schedule they can provide?

  • It’s a good idea to know what you will be doing day in and day out.

How are meals prepared, are they prepared by a chef or do they cook their own food?

  • If meals are prepared with a chef can the client suggest foods they like? Can they go to the store to get extra items or place an order for them?

Can you bring your furry little friend, dog or cat? What about electronics?

  • Some places allow animals so it’s good to know one way or another. Find out about the facility policy on electronics. When and where can you use computers and phones? Do they hold them for you or do clients get to keep them in your rooms?

Does the facility take my insurance?

  • This is often one of the most important questions when looking at specific facilities. The process likely is that the admissions person will take your insurance information and call your carrier to do a VOB then let you know the answer. If you believe you have out of network benefits for mental health or substance abuse and call your insurance provider directly for facilities they will only be giving you a list of their in network providers. Many residential treatment programs choose to be out of network.

How much will this cost?

  • Even if insurance is accepted, more often than not there will be substantial expenses to pay for treatment costs. Unless you have incurred many medical expenses within your health insurance plans year it is unlikely your deductible and out of pocket expenses have been met. Many times we encounter people who believe their insurance should be covering the entire cost of treatment. Please contact us if you have further questions concerning this matter. It is very individualized per your insurance.

What items are included vs. additional cost?

  • You may not realize that additional therapies, medications or items will be billed to you separately from what your insurance or you personally are paying. It is good to have a list of those items prior to arrival.

Who is the point person to speak with while the client is admitted and what is their title?

  • Usually a case manager, social worker or operations manager will be a family’s contact person while they are there. It’s almost never the person you are speaking with on the phone initially so its helpful to have a name and number as the clients will likely not have phone access at least initially upon intake.

What is the laundry arrangement and how many to a bathroom and bedroom?

  • State licensing standards ensure a bare minimum requirement but you will want to verify what type of living arrangement you will be residing in for your time.

How many times per day or week do the clients go offsite?

  • This varies from 1-2 times daily to not at all during residential treatment. Get an idea of what each facility does.

What types of medications aren’t allowed?

  • Usually when admitting to substance abuse facilities they will not allow any controlled substances. You don’t want to arrive thinking your going to get off alcohol and continue using your prescription benzodiazepines then when arriving they take your bottle and put it in the medication destruction bin.

What is the staff to client ratio?

  • At times people new in sobriety can act like they are in a grade school classroom. It is nice to know that they are watched over as best as possible as the consequences of horseplay are much greater than they were in the classroom. Typically a 1:5 staff to client ration is sufficient depending on the size of the facility and the census. Also ensure that the overnight staff is more than a live-in employee who is on property but sleeps at night. That may sound crazy but we have come across these scenarios frequently and nighttime is when the poor judgment of clients comes out.

When is the designated time for family to call or visit?

  • This question is usually a no brainer to ask for family members wanting to check in regularly.

Has the person you’re speaking with on the phone for admission been to the facility? How often do they go there and how long have they worked with the organization?

  • Many companies have admissions people who work remotely. Not only do they not know much detail about program specifics but also they often have never visited the physical rehab locations. If this sounds like the case when calling ask for them to get a manager on the phone who can explain all the above to you as effectively as possible.

Is the facility gender specific or co-ed?

  • For obvious reasons it is important to know this. We aren’t saying that a gender specific rehab is better or worse only that you want to know ahead of time what the demographics will be. Some clients may have past trauma with the opposite sex and it would be detrimental to put them around that population in a therapeutic setting in the beginning of sobriety.

What is the average length of stay for clients?

  • A standard rehab model runs an average of 30 days for inpatient. This includes the 3-7 days of detox. Some will keep clients 45 days if necessary and able. It is a case-by-case basis that each person’s treatment team along with the operations department will decide. From there it is wise to stay in a structured environment for a few more months at a minimum if at all possible.

Is there a refund or credit given if someone leaves during a brief stay?

  • Many times addicts get scared or get cravings and leave abruptly. It is nice to know if this is the case how will the facility handle any types of payments that were made toward a month of treatment costs.

AARG is happy to clarify any questions you may have on the entire process of attending substance abuse treatment.

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