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Drug Treatment Program Accreditation

What to Look for in a Drug Treatment Program

When evaluating the many types of drug addiction treatment programs, remember that everyone’s needs are different. In general, the longer and more intense the drug use, the longer and more intense the drug treatment program you may need.

Regardless of a drug treatment program’s length in weeks or months, support and long-term follow-up are crucial to recovery. A quality drug addiction treatment program not only addresses the drug abuse, it also addresses the emotional pain and other life problems that contribute to your addiction.

The Drug Treatment Program Checklist

When you start looking for drug treatment, you may see advertisements for programs in tranquil settings with gorgeous views. While amenities like that are nice to have, they likely come with a big price tag. Focus on what is truly important: appropriate licensing, quality of care during the drug treatment program, follow-up services, and staff credentials. Things to check include:

  • Drug Treatment Program Accreditation

    CARF Accreditation

    Program accreditation and licensing. Make sure the drug treatment program is accredited by the state it’s in. Also check to ensure that the program is run by licensed, well-trained mental health professionals and drug addiction specialists.

  • The effectiveness of the program’s drug treatment methods. Drug Addiction Treatment centers should have at least some statistics on their success rates, preferably from an objective outside agency.
  • Type of aftercare services to prevent relapse. Is there a well-run aftercare program? Does it provide referrals to other recovery services and support groups in the community? Also make sure that a staff member will collaborate with you to create a discharge plan before you leave the program.

Phases of Drug Treatment Programs

Residential Drug Addiction Treatment – Residential treatment involves living at a drug treatment facility while undergoing intensive drug addiction treatment during the day. Residential drug treatment normally lasts from 30-90 days.

Partial hospitalization – Partial hospitalization is for people who require ongoing medical monitoring but have a stable living situation. These drug treatment programs usually meet at the hospital for 3-5 days a week, 4-6 hours per day.

Intensive outpatient program (IOP) – Not a live-in drug addiction treatment program, but it still requires a major time commitment. Intensive outpatient programs usually meet at least 3 days a week for 2-4 hours a day or more. The major focus is relapse prevention. These outpatient drug programs are often scheduled around work or school.

Counseling (Individual, Group, or Family) – Works best in conjunction with other types of drug addiction treatment or as follow-up support. Therapy can help you identify the root causes of your drug use, repair your relationships, and learn healthier coping skills.

Sober living – Normally follows intensive drug treatment like residential drug treatment. You live with other recovering addicts in a supportive drug-free environment. Sober living facilities are useful if you have nowhere to go or you’re worried that returning home too soon will lead to relapse.

Brief interventionThe Importance of Professional Intervention is for those at risk for drug abuse or drug addiction. Consists of several visits to a healthcare professional to discuss the harmful effects of drug abuse and strategies for cutting back.

The goal of drug addiction treatment is to stop drug use and allow people to lead active lives in the family, workplace, and community. One continual challenge, however, is keeping patients in drug treatment long enough for them to achieve this goal. That is why finding the right drug addiction treatment for a person’s specific needs is critical. Drug addiction treatment is not “one size fits all.”

Family and friends can play important roles in motivating people with drug problems to enter and remain in drug treatment. However, trying to identify the right drug addiction treatment programs for a loved one can be a difficult process.

Questions to Ask

To help, the National Institute on Drug Abuse created this brief guide containing five questions to ask when searching for a drug treatment program:

Q: Does the drug treatment program use treatments backed by scientific evidence?

Effective drug addiction treatments can include behavioral therapy, medications, or, ideally, their combination. Behavioral therapies vary in focus and may involve:

  • Addressing a patient’s motivation to change
  • Providing incentives to stop taking drugs
  • Building skills to resist drug use
  • Replacing drug-using activities with constructive and rewarding activities
  • Improving problem-solving skills
  • Building better personal relationships

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Seeks to help patients recognize, avoid, and cope with the situations in which they are most likely to abuse drugs.

Motivational Incentives.

Uses positive reinforcement such as providing rewards or privileges for remaining drug free, for participating in counseling sessions, or for taking treatment medications as prescribed.

Motivational Interviewing.

Uses strategies to encourage rapid and self-driven behavior change to stop drug use and help a patient enter treatment.

Group Therapy.

Helps patients face their drug abuse realistically, come to terms with its harmful consequences, and boost their motivation to stay drug free. Patients learn how to resolve their emotional and personal problems without abusing drugs.

Q: Does the drug program tailor treatment to the needs of each patient?

No single drug addiction treatment is right for everyone. The best drug treatment addresses a person’s various needs, not just his or her drug abuse.

Matching drug rehab settings, programs, and services to a person’s unique problems and level of need is key to his or her ultimate success in returning to a productive life. It is important for the drug treatment approach to be broad in scope, taking into account a person’s age, gender, ethnicity, and culture. The severity of addiction and previous efforts to stop using drugs can also influence a treatment approach.

The best programs provide a combination of therapies and other services to meet a patient’s needs. In addition to drug addiction treatment, a patient may require other medical services, family therapy, parenting support, job training, and social and legal services.

Finally, because addictive disorders and other mental disorders often occur together, a person with one of these conditions should be assessed for the other. And when these problems co-occur, treatment should address both (or all conditions), including use of medications, as appropriate.

Q: Does the drug treatment program adapt treatment as the patient’s needs change?

Individual drug addiction treatment and service plans must be assessed and modified as needed to meet changing needs.

A person in drug treatment may require varying combinations of services during its course, including ongoing assessment. For instance, the drug program should build in drug monitoring so the treatment plan can be adjusted if relapse occurs. For most people, a continuing care approach provides the best results, with drug addiction treatment level adapted to a person’s changing needs.

A patient’s needs for support services, such as day care or transportation, should also be met during drug treatment.

Q: Is the duration of drug addiction treatment sufficient?

Remaining in drug treatment for the right period of time is critical.

Appropriate time in drug addiction treatment depends on the type and degree of a person’s problems and needs. Research tells us that most addicted people need at least three months in drug treatment to really reduce or stop their drug use and that longer drug treatment times result in better outcomes. The best drug programs will measure progress and suggest plans for maintaining recovery. Recovery from drug addiction is a long-term process that often requires several episodes of drug addiction treatment and ongoing support from family or community.

Q: How do 12-step or similar recovery programs fit into drug addiction treatment?

Self-help groups can complement and extend the effects of professional drug treatment.

The most well-known programs are Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and Cocaine Anonymous (CA), all of which are based on the 12-step model. This group therapy model draws on the social support offered by peer discussion to help promote and sustain drug-free lifestyles.

Most drug addiction treatment programs encourage patients to participate in group therapy during and after formal drug treatment. These groups offer an added layer of community-level social support to help people in recovery with abstinence and other healthy lifestyle goals.

Get Help Today

Every day, people across the United States find themselves in need of drug abuse treatment. There’s a positive trend in the US where drug treatment is becoming more available to more people than ever before, thanks to recent changes that require insurance plans to recognize addiction as a medical issue.

However, there’s one disadvantage to this abundance of choice: the wide variety of drug treatment options leaves many people unsure which one is right for them. Some people find themselves re-entering drug rehab multiple times, because they’re involved in a program that doesn’t meet their individual needs. To find the best drug addiction treatment center, you need to know the options, and the right questions to narrow them down.


The Importance of Professional Intervention

InterventionTreatment for addiction does not need to begin voluntarily to be effective. The lower the bottom, the harder it becomes to ever return to the surface. Traditional psychiatry and counseling are most often not the answer. Research shows intervention to be successful 85% to 95% of the time. Truly successful outcomes for any serious illness require a variety of interventions—based on the latest research to include medicine, nutrition, education, relational support, etc. A professional interventionist will provide oversight and continuity to permanently raise the bottom of the entire family of those suffering from addiction.

Anyone who is consumed by alcohol or drugs of any kind is incapable of making consistently healthy choices, and thus requires professional expertise to help get healthy again. Working with a specialist will offer significant advantages that save families time, money, and emotional pain in the long run.

Consult an Addiction Professional

Consulting an addiction professional, such as an alcohol and addictions counselor, social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, or interventionist, can help you organize an effective intervention. A substance use or addiction professional will take into account the particular circumstances surrounding the alcohol or drug use, suggest the best approach, and provide guidance for what type of treatment and follow-up plan is likely to work best.

An intervention is a carefully planned process that may be done by family and friends, in consultation with a doctor or professional such as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, or directed by an intervention professional (interventionist). It sometimes involves co-workers, clergy members or others who care about the person struggling with addiction.

Much of the intervention process is education and information for the friends and family. The opportunity for everyone to come together, share information and support each other is critically important.  Once everyone is ready, a meeting is scheduled with the person everyone is concerned about.

During the intervention, these people gather together to confront the person about the consequences of addiction and ask him or her to accept treatment. The intervention:

  • Provides specific examples of destructive behaviors and their impact on the addicted person and loved ones
  • Offers a prearranged treatment plan with clear steps, goals and guidelines
  • Spells out what each person will do if a loved one refuses to accept treatment

Here’s a look at seven tips that will increase the likelihood of your family member saying “yes” to accepting professional help and walking into a new life of health and happiness.

Tip #1 Choose the Right Team

An intervention is not something to be performed alone. Most likely, you’ve already tried to “intervene” on your own. Choose somewhere between 3 and 8 people to participate; consider close friends, family members and colleagues who have first-hand knowledge of the problem.

Tip #2 Hire a Professional Interventionist

A professional interventionist is experienced and trained in addiction. They know how to prepare an intervention, respond to common reactions and set a proper tone for the event. Despite reading about it or seeing it on TV, nothing can substitute the value of experience.

Tip #3 Prepare and Discuss the Intervention

Team members should be prepared to speak knowledgeably regarding your family member and his/her addiction. Reading a one-page letter (written by each team member) to the addict is a common practice of interventions.

Tip #4 Omit Blame, Anger and Judgment

When rehearsing for your family member’s intervention, omit using any words or tones that may cause more confrontation than necessary. Read your letter aloud and discussing the proper tone with your interventionist before the big day. This is an important part of preparation.

Tip #5 Ensure It’s Unexpected

If your family member is aware of an intervention, he/she may prepare a defense or avoid the situation altogether. Although it might feel sneaky or dishonest, planning the intervention in secret is one of the keys to success and effectiveness.

Tip #6 Carefully Plan Your Objective

The goal of an intervention is to facilitate the immediate treatment your family member’s addiction. Typically, a treatment center will be lined up beforehand and they should be expecting your family member’s arrival. Professional counseling or therapy sessions should also be available for you and other family members following the intervention.

Tip #7 Understand Leverage and Compassion

Threats and ultimatums are sometimes counterproductive and dangerous, but you must be prepared to voice the consequences of treatment refusal. Whether it’s how the refusal of treatment will affect the addict’s relationship with the family, current living arrangements or the family as a whole, you must remember that you wield significant leverage. When used compassionately, your family member will ultimately thank you for showing such strength.

Remember; the point of an intervention is to help – not threaten, hurt or embarrass.


Relapse Prevention: Excellent Tool for Addiction Recovery

To err is to be human. We all make mistakes, and most of the time that’s how we learn. In the process of beating an addiction to drugs or alcohol, these mistakes are called relapses. When a recovering addict slips and uses the substance he or she is addicted to again, it is called a relapse. Several factors contribute to why an addict relapses. How an addict copes with these factors plays a crucial role in possibly preventing the relapse altogether. A common term used to describe the factors that contribute to a relapse is ‘triggers’. Relapse Prevention rests on if an addict can healthily avoid triggers.

Relapse Prevention (RP) is a cognitive-behavioral treatment method that identifies such triggers and formulates ways to avoid them while still maintaining a balanced life. Since anywhere from 50-90% of recovering addicts eventually relapse, RP serves as a welcome method for lowering this awful statistic.


What is Relapse Prevention?

In 1985, professors Marlatt and Gordon proposed the Relapse Prevention model as a method for preventing alcohol relapses. The method beings with identifying high-risk situations, which the professors define as “the environmental and emotional characteristics of situations that are potentially associated with relapse.” Once high-risk situations are categorized, appropriate coping responses are utilized. According to the model, an addict can either have effective coping responses or ineffective ones. The effectivity of coping determines self-efficacy, or the belief in oneself to be able to exert control and “execute behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainments.”

With self-efficacy comes decreased likelihood of relapse. A lack of self-efficacy leads to a relapse, which can trigger the abstinence violation effect. This effect is what happens when a recovering addict uses again, feels guilt and shame because of it, and therefore uses more to mask the guilt and shame.

Regarding treatment, once the triggers are recognized, the patient’s responses to the triggers are analyzed as well as the patient’s lifestyle. With this information, the responses and/or weaknesses causing relapse in the patient can be curbed and/or strengthened.

What are the triggers?

There is a variety of triggers for relapse. Frankly, what triggers a recovering addict to relapse is personal to him or her. However, the majority of relapses can be attributed to some factor outside of addiction. Among the many recognized, reasons for relapse include improper aftercare, lack of self-efficacy, sobering up to appease others, certain people and places, loneliness, and addiction replacement.

Relapse Prevention

Relapse itself has three stages: emotional, mental, and physical. In emotional relapse, the addict is not actually using, but is exhibiting signs of anxiety, mood swings, poor hygience/health, etc. Preventing relapse in this stage means taking care of oneself and realizing self-importance. Ask for help. Set small-term goals. Eat well and sleep well.

The mental stage of relapse is when you want to use but you do not. The internal struggle where you desire but refrain is known as mental relapse. Signs include reminiscing on the (drug-fueled) old times, fantasizing about using, and lying about what one is thinking and feeling. Preventing relapse in this stage means talking to others, distracting yourself productively, surrounding yourself with the right people, or something as simple as taking a nap. Cravings go away.

The final stage of relapse is physical relapse. This is when the addict indulges in use somewhere along the path to recovery. At this point, the addict should seek professional assistance. The abstinence violation effect can make relapse turn into full-blown addiction.

Outpatient Rehab: The Freedom to Help Yourself

Being in outpatient rehab means traveling to the rehabilitation center for treatment and then returning home. Some programs require patients to be there for many hours, and other programs require only a half-hour. It depends on the severity and nature of your addiction. There are also three basic types of outpatient rehab: therapy/counseling, intensive outpatient rehabilitation, and partial hospitalization. Discussed below is why outpatient rehabilitation could work for you, along with a breakdown of each of the three types.


First and foremost, if your addiction is out-of-hand, and you need full attention, then outpatient rehab is not for you. Seek inpatient rehabilitation, (living at the treatment facility), immediately.

Now, if you need help but not around the clock, here are some of the many benefits of choosing outpatient rehabilitation:

  • Costs significantly less than inpatient rehabilitation
  • Allows for the patient to still have time at home with family, to work, or for school
  • Behavioral therapy (optional) can help in all aspects of life
  • Many locations are available across the United States

The above facts are true for all three types of outpatient rehabilitation. Let’s find out which is best for you.


Therapy/counseling consists of the patient attending short counseling sessions, usually once a week, whether individual, group, family, behavioral, etc. Therapy-based outpatient rehabilitation is for someone who perhaps is already in recovery, or whose addiction is not as severe. Many groups exist that are open to the public, such as Narcotics Anonymous, but it is important to remember that these groups do not qualify as outpatient rehabilitation by themselves.

If you are in the process of beating your addiction, or you simply need support to maintain sobriety, therapy and/or counseling is perfect for you. A completely full life outside of recovery is able to be maintained.


Intensive outpatient rehabilitation consists of the patient attending long sessions, multiple days a week. Commonly, the scheduling of these sessions is based around the patient’s pre-existing life schedule, allowing a normal life along with treatment. Extended sessions allow the patient to dive deep and treat the issues behind the addiction. Even though a fair amount of time is dedicated to recovery, intensive outpatient rehabilitation still allows for a presence either at work or at home, and allows for time with family and/or friends. Also, the network of support you establish utilizing this method of recovery is vast. All of your loved ones, as well as the entire staff & patient body, are available to you 24/7. Lastly, intensive outpatient rehabilitation allows for the treatment of more than one addiction simultaneously. Many of us have multiple addictions, and this method can help beat them all.


Partial hospitalization is exactly what it seems like. Patients who require consistent monitoring yet desire a stable life should consider partial hospitalization. Usually three to five days a week, for several hours a day, patients will have the benefit of hospital resources, as well as all the aforementioned benefits of therapy, counseling, and intensive rehabilitation. You would not live at the hospital. This method of outpatient rehabilitation is also ideal for those going through a detoxification, as the bodily changes may require hospital-grade equipment and knowledge.


No matter what you may be addicted to, an addiction is still an addiction. The methods used in outpatient rehabilitation can be applied to drug addiction, sex addiction, gambling addiction, etc. The bottom line is always the same: Help yourself and let others help you.

Blog Coming Soon

Thank you for all the support over the last few months. We are working on getting our writing team together, and will be releasing the blog in the near future. Please continue to help support us as we strive to provide the best information possible for those seeking inpatient treatment information. – Team