Dear Rae: How to Choose the Best Addiction Treatment Center?

Dear Rae:

My wife’s addiction and mental health issues have gotten out of hand. It is impacting our quality of life, and our children’s lives. But I am overwhelmed by the options for treatment. How do I find the best addiction treatment center for her? How do I know what she needs? We would like to find something near where we live. Is there a list of things I should look for?



Dear TJ:

Choosing a drug and alcohol treatment center for a loved one (or yourself) can be an overwhelming process. Unfortunately, there are unethical organizations in the mental health field who can cause the selection process to be unnecessarily confusing. These days, it is important to research the options. Arm yourself with the right questions to ask when you call a treatment center. At Sanford Behavioral Health, our admissions team spends time answering all of your questions.

Warning Signs

If the person on the end of the line is abrupt, pushy, or wants to send you far from home without a good reason, hang up. Also, look out for programs that offer to pay for your plane tickets or travel. Also those who say they will waive all deductibles, coinsurance, and out of pocket costs, or offer to pay for your insurance coverage. If it seems too good to be true, it is.


And Questions to Ask and Important Information to Gather Before you Decide

Where Are You Located?

This is no time for a runaround, so ask for a specific location. Respected rehabs should be transparent. Sanford Behavioral Health is located in five beautiful facilities in Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan. We treat patients living in Michigan and beyond.

What are Your Accreditations, Credentials and Licenses?

Reputable treatment centers are licensed by the state and are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) or The Joint Commission. Both base criteria on industry performance standards. Similarly, LegitScript certifies rigorously vetted facilities to advertise on Google and Facebook, which provides consumer protection. Look for marks of distinction displayed on websites.


Do You Have a Multidisciplinary Team? What are Their Credentials and Licenses?

Clinical and medical staff must meet nationally recognized standards for professional practice. Consequently, make sure to ask about training and staff experience, medical depth, and clinical credentials. The team should include:

  • On-site psychiatrists and medical doctors
  • Medication management and medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Advance practice providers with addiction and psychiatric specialties
  • RNs, registered dietitians
  • Master’s level and above clinicians
  • Case managers, peer recovery coaches, recreation therapists, and administrative staff.


Do You Have Mental Health/Co-Occurring Services?

More often than not (about 85% of the time at Sanford) addiction and eating disorders come with complicating factors such as depression, anxiety or trauma known as co-occurring disorders. In fact, up to 35% of those with a substance use disorder also have an eating disorder (NEDA).


What About Evidence-Based Practices? Individualized Treatment?

Evidence-based means therapies are effective, science-based and proven.. At Sanford we use cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical-behavior therapy, experiential therapy, emotion-focused family therapy, seeking safety, acceptance and commitment therapy, and more. Additionally, we offer individual, group, or family therapy throughout the treatment process. Of course, we use person-centered, highly attuned therapeutic interventions in all our programs at Sanford.


Do You Have a Full Continuum of Care? Does it Include a Family Program?

The term “continuum of care” means the delivery of care over a period of time. This means connecting individuals to the various parts of the continuum, based on the assessed needs, at any given point in the recovery process. At Sanford, our continuum includes assessment, detox, residential treatment, PHP, IOP and outpatient services. We include family in our signature Family Program. We also provide long-term support for alumni and families.


Are There Extracurricular Activities?

Boring treatment, or treatment isolated from the “real world” is not as effective as treatment that incorporates snippets of real life in the safety of treatment. At Sanford, we include experiential therapy into the recovery process whenever possible. Experiential therapy utilizes recreation, creative expression, and other activity-based techniques and excursions to restore physical and psychological health.


Can You Tell Me About Your Outcome Data/Success Rates?

Ask about the treatment center’s research-based methods for tracking outcome data. Similarly, ask them to define “success”,


Last But Not Least, What Insurance Do You Take?

The cost of addiction treatment is an expense most individuals have never planned or budgeted for. So, look for rehab facilities that are in-network with your insurance. Today Sanford has fifteen in-network insurance contracts and many initiatives in the works.


Research and Discuss

TJ, as you conduct your own careful research and discuss recommendations with professionals and friends you will feel confident making a decision about treatment. Perhaps presenting several options will help your wife feel that she has some input in the decision. Be sure to encourage family involvement in both the search process and the treatment process. And most of all, try not to get discouraged. There is a program out there suited to your family’s needs, ready to help your wife begin her treatment journey.