I get asked for recommendations on treatment programs at all different levels of care for people wanting to know where to go for treatment. I'm not the greatest at knowing all the best treatment programs around the country.
But, I know what you should look for when doing your research.
What makes an exceptional addiction treatment program?
First and foremost, I think any good program will take the time to listen to the person before the person comes into the program. Not only listen to the person but listen to their family as well.
Every individual has their own specific needs, anxieties, and fears. A good program will take the time to listen to you as an individual, understand what you need, and assure you're a good fit.
Too many programs do something I call "the factory of mental health," where it's similar to an assembly line.
When it comes to addiction, it's even worse than that. You will get responses like, "come back when you're ready, or you're just not willing enough. If you don't want to bend to our program, you don't want recovery."
I think that's a ridiculous response to someone in a distressed state.
The second thing I think a great recovery program will have is one that addresses mental health concerns and addiction issues.
You rarely see someone who has an addiction and doesn't have other mental health concerns. In most cases, the mental health concerns led to the addiction. If you're missing the mental health piece, you're missing a big piece of the puzzle.
Most programs, at least in the United States, will say they offer mental health treatment. But most of the time, if it's a primary addiction treatment center and they hand you some worksheets and a pamphlet or two or say, oh, I'm sorry, you feel so bad. Then they call that mental health. Conversely, If you go into a treatment program that's primary mental health, sometimes they'll say they do addiction treatment too. While in reality, they say here's a meeting schedule. Are you going to your meetings? Have you called your sponsor? That's just barely wiping the surface either way. Make sure the treatment center you pick does have a plan and a way of addressing this issue.
Most addiction treatment centers and programs operate in groups, but great programs will also offer some level of individual treatment as well.
Number three is the most important of all five of these. That is that a good addiction treatment program will build you up.
Good programs have things placed purposefully to help you feel good about yourself. You need to have the skills and autonomy to fill your pride bank. When you have the serotonin happening in your brain, it helps to protect you against addiction.
The number four thing that any good addiction treatment program has is the staff that is involved. I hate to say this, but in some treatment programs, they're so overworked and overrun that they can't even keep up with the number of people they have.
You need involved staff to get the attention you need, but you also need team involvement to ensure no drama and bad business is going on too. The more engaged the staff is, the more engaged the clients are.
The fifth thing that a great addiction treatment center will have is a good aftercare plan.
What happens next? Let's say you go to an inpatient addiction treatment program. Maybe it's 30 days or 60 days, but what happens after that? Is it a place that you go away and stay? Do you go back home, and they'll find you a local counselor to connect with?
People that find recovery, do it in a solid community setting. They're involved in a group or go to meetings where they have sponsors or coaches they belong to. They're invested in that community, and that community invests in them.
You can't help but connect to other people in these programs because people are genuine, and you get to know them. When you're in such a tight-knit, vulnerable kind of situation, and that's very important to the recovery process, connection, meaning purpose, all of that is what creates good recovery, and one great way to find that is in community.
In the past, I have run some intensive outpatient programs. One of the things that I've always done to help meet this need is that if you graduated from our IOP program, you could keep coming back, and for as long as you wanted to, as a mentor for free, that was a great way to create community.
Examples of Great Addiction Treatment
My good friends at Greenville Transitions are a perfect example of all five things we need to look for when researching good treatment programs. Greenville Transitions is an addiction recovery program that checks off all five things extraordinarily well.
They will talk to your family and listen to your needs, who you are as a person, and your personality to ensure that you fit well into the community and your needs will be met. They do an excellent job of addressing mental health concerns, and all the therapists on their team are mental health-trained therapists. Every client at Greenville transitions gets access to psychiatric care when needed. The thing that Greenville transitions does best build you up. They have this woven throughout their program.
They have a great level system that they go by, and once you complete a certain level, you get to move down to what they call the step-down house.
When they move into that step-down house, they automatically start forming those systems. You can see that they're putting in place all the things they learned in the earlier levels of care.
Watch this video next, which will explain the various kinds of sober living options out there and what questions you should ask a sober living program.
Here's the link to my insider's guide for understanding the different levels of care and options that are out there for you.