What to Ask when Choosing a Drug Rehab

Knowing what to ask when choosing a drug rehab center can be difficult if this is your first time seeking treatment for a substance abuse or alcohol problem. Because of unrealistic portrayals of drug treatment centers in the media it can be difficult to know what to expect, or what questions to ask to learn if a particular rehab is right for you. But the disease of addiction is very individualistic in nature and therefore treatment must be as well. This means that not every drug rehab center is right for every person. Asking the proper questions beforehand will help you determine which program will offer you the best chance of successful long-term recovery from addiction or alcoholism.


Different rehab centers call themselves by different names. In order to sort through the industry jargon and acronyms, you should know that there are generally only three categories of programs that a rehab will fall into:

1.) Residential Inpatient Treatment

The most intense level of treatment, people who attend an inpatient program will live in the same supervised, structured environment where they receive treatment. Total therapy or treatment time can be in excess of 50 hours per week in some cases, and patients are required to cook, clean and shop for themselves in order to make things seem as much like the real world as possible.

2.) Day/Night Treatment or Partial Hospitalization Program

This type of program is often attended by those who have recently completed an inpatient program or by those who have recently relapsed. Day/Night treatment programs are aptly named: patients received intensive therapies during the day and then are transported to supervised clean and sober living arrangements in the evenings. This helps with the eventual transitional process back to the recovering addict’s community.

3.) Outpatient Treatment

During outpatient treatment, people in recovery will attend therapy during the day; sometimes 7 days per week. The therapies employed at most outpatient centers are similar or identical to those used in inpatient and day/night programs. In the evenings some patients return to their homes, some go to “halfway houses” or other mandated locations, and some go to sober living environments.


Regardless of the type of rehab center, treatment duration can vary significantly from patient to patient. However, most programs are designed to be 30, 60 or 90 days long. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse;

“Individuals progress through drug addiction treatment at various rates, so there is no pre-determined length of treatment. However, research has shown unequivocally that good outcomes are contingent on adequate treatment length. Generally, for residential or outpatient treatment, participation for less than 90 days is of limited effectiveness, and treatment lasting significantly longer is recommended for maintaining positive outcomes.” (1)


The answer to this question is almost always yes. Including family members in a person’s treatment program is critical to their success. Family members often have powerful influences over an addict and can help guide them in the right – or wrong – direction. Therefore, many therapists feel that when addiction occurs the addict and all affected family members must take part in therapy.

Additionally, people who attend a drug or alcohol rehab program will be able to make phone calls, write letters and have visits. However, it should be noted that family members deemed detrimental to the health or safety of anyone else will not be permitted to be involved in treatment.


Drug rehab centers employ a number of therapies to help addicts gain control over their addictions and learn to live life without substance abuse or alcoholism. This is accomplished using evidence based practices such as reality therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, but can also include traditional therapies like one-on-one counseling sessions, family therapy and group counseling sessions. Rehabilitation centers that have the highest success rates use these therapies to address two primary issues:

1.) Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

As defined by KCI.org – an anti-meth website: “Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) is a set of impairments that occur immediately after withdrawal from alcohol or other substances. The condition lasts from six to eighteen months after the last use and is marked by a fluctuating but incrementally improving course. It has importance to the recovering addict’s ability to benefit from recovery, treatment, function effectively on the job, interact with family and friends, and regain emotional health.” (2)

More specifically, PAWS causes the following symptoms that often lead recovering addicts to use again in order to seek relief: insomnia, lack of physical coordination, inability to organize or articulate thoughts, depression, drug or alcohol cravings, exhaustion, anxiety and a host of other symptoms. Managing PAWS with the therapies mentioned above and – where appropriate – with medication can give people in recovery the skills needed to maintain a lifetime of sobriety.

2.) Denial Management

Denial keeps addiction alive, and addiction therapies work by exposing denial and creating new thought patterns to replace it. Denial management is one of the most critical functions of drug addiction treatment because all addicts and alcoholics exhibit patterns of denial:

“Denial is a normal and natural response for coping with painful and overwhelming problems. provides a practical system for describing the twelve most common denial patterns and guiding clients through a series of exercises that help them to identify and more effectively manage their own denial. The structured DMC exercises teach clients how to recognize and effectively stop their denial when it occurs so they can identify and clarify the problems that caused them to seek help.” (3)


In most cases people pay for treatment with insurance. Most health insurance policies have some type of provision for coverage of drug or alcohol treatment. In general insurance is a private, self-pay policy of the patient, or it can be part of an employer’s insurance program. Whatever the case may be, many treatment centers are experienced working with all types of insurers.

For those can afford it, self-pay for drug rehab is an option and in most cases treatment may be eligible for a cash discount.

Other options include these as listed by Columbia University:

“State and Federally Funded Drug Rehabilitation Facilities
There are drug treatment facilities that are funded by state and federal agencies. Many of these facilities operate on a sliding fee scale (people pay what they can afford) and/or are open to arranging payment plans.

Vouchers: In addition, the federal program Access to Recovery—Taking Action to Health America’s Substance Users provides individuals vouchers to pay for treatment in several states.

Clinical Trials: Another option is to look into clinical trials. Clinical trials look into new counseling and/or medication treatment approaches. These treatments are often still in the investigational phases. The great thing is that these trials are often free for qualified participants. To locate a clinical trial, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Clinical Trials Network.” (4)

If you or someone you care about is suffering from addiction or alcoholism, you may have many more questions than what is listed here. For a free, confidential consultation any time of day or night, just call the number at the top of your screen. We have addiction counselors standing by to discuss you options with you, answer questions, check your insurance and provide you with resources to take action right now. Why wait any longer? Call us now.


(1) National Institute on Drug Abuse Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research Based Guide
Accessed 09/27/2011

(2) KCI.org Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
Accessed 09/27/2011

(3) Gorski, Terence T. DMC – Denial Management Counseling 03/2001
Accessed 09/27/2011

(4) Health Services at Columbia University Drug Rehab on the Cheap-er Go Ask Alice
Accessed 09/27/2011

You aren't alone. You deserve to get help.
Recovery First is located in Hollywood, Florida, which is easily accessible from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. Our small groups means you get more one-on-one support and make stronger connections with the community. Take the next step toward recovery: learn more about our addiction treatment programs near Florida's Atlantic coast or learn about how rehab is affordable for everyone.