Drug Rehab: The Eight Most Frequently Asked Questions
This entry was posted in Addiction Recovery and tagged Drug Addiction, Drug Addiction Characteristics, Drug Use, Signs of Drug Use on July 23, 2019 by Justin Baksh, MS, LMHC, MCAP, Chief Clinical Officer.
Drug rehab may have not been your first thought. This problem, though, it has probably been weighing on your mind for a while. It can consume your daytime hours and even keep you up at night. You know something drastic needs to happen, you are just not sure what exactly that is. You are searching for something – anything – that can help.
You or a family member is struggling with drug addiction.
To get to this point, usually there are serious life consequences occurring. It can start small, with missed time from school or work, a distancing from family members and friends, and money troubles. It can then progress to lost jobs, lost relationships, lost custody of minor children – and then even to criminal behavior (even felony convictions), including robbery and prostitution (to get money for drugs), and homelessness. These are just a few of the things that can happen when drug addiction is in the picture. Changes to the brain, along with the onset of “dope sickness” whenever withdrawal starts to set in, can cause the addict to prioritize the next high above all else.
Drug addiction is a very serious thing – it’s a road that ends with either recovery or death, as harsh as it may sound.
There is hope, however.
In fact, many of those who are addicted will call out for help in their own way at certain points. If it’s affecting someone you love, you do not want to ignore those calls, especially since most of the time (if not all the time), the addict will be in denial about their drug addiction.
Those moments of awareness and reaching out, though, that’s what you live for.
When you do see a glimmer of hope, you may find yourself searching online for an answer. This is when you may come upon websites for drug rehab facilities.
It’s not an easy decision to make, what to do to help your loved one. Anyone who has found themselves at this point has many questions in mind. Here are answers to the most common questions that potential clients or their families ask when searching for help:
1. What is drug rehab?
Drug rehabilitation centers – or drug rehab for short – are facilities that help individuals overcome addiction while developing behaviors and tools to prevent relapse.
Of course, drug rehab centers vary widely in the levels of care they provide, their certifications, the certifications of their employees, the scope of their treatment, their effectiveness, and even their reputation.
2. How do you go about vetting a drug rehab?
First, it’s important to make sure a drug rehab is certified and licensed. This may vary by state. In Florida, drug rehab facilities must be licensed by the Department of Children and Families. There are limited exceptions to this under Florida law. For example, substance abuse education programs, federal government facilities, psychologists and similar providers, churches, DUI education and screening, and service providers for those who were exposed to drugs in utero do not have to be licensed. All of these exempted entities, however, must meet other requirements in order to provide the services they do. You’ll have to check your state’s licensing requirements to be sure that the facilities you are considering are actually licensed to provide the services that they do.
Other credentialing bodies include the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (the Joint Commission or JCAHO for short) as well as LegitScript.
An independent, not-for-profit organization, JCAHO accreditation and certification is the “gold standard” in terms of nationally recognized quality and commitment to high performance standards. Nearly 21,000 health care organizations across the U.S. voluntary undergo the accreditation and certification process with the Joint Commission, who assesses organizations based on unannounced evaluations at periodic intervals. If a drug rehab facility has JCAHO accreditation, it implies that they have gone above and beyond in their commitment to quality of care and client safety.
LegitScript is another above-and-beyond certification that some drug rehab centers obtain. Drug rehab centers go through an application and review process to obtain LegitScript certification. In a news release issued by the company in April 2018, LegitScript’s CEO John Horton said that the program “helps patients distinguish between effective, evidence-based, and compassionate drug and alcohol treatment services and fraudulent drug and alcohol treatment centers that take advantage of patients’ recovery efforts and insurance billing opportunities… Some fly-by-night treatment centers put profits ahead of patients, providing substandard treatment or no care at all. We want to ensure that patients are afforded the opportunity for quality treatment.”
How do you tell if a drug rehab center has these certifications? You can check with JCAHO and LegitScript directly, ask the facility, and/or check their website. LegitScript has a logo encrypted with coding that displays the current date. So if a drug rehab facility website has a LegitScript logo and the date is not current, it is not an authentic logo from LegitScript.
It all boils down to one thing, however – the most important thing: The proof is in the final product. Does the facility have testimonials from people who’ve been through the treatment? Can you talk to their alumni or attend a meeting? What do the people who’ve been through the program have to say? One place to start is with Google reviews.
3. Does it work?
In a word, yes.
According to scientific research cited on drugabuse.gov, most people who receive treatment will stop using drugs and experience a host of benefits from doing so, including decreased criminal activity and improved job, relationship, and psychological functioning.
There is a qualifier to this, however.
Each individual’s outcome depends on many factors.
First, the degree to which addiction has a hold on an individual and their willingness to change comes into play. Also, going through the full course of appropriate treatment and services needed to properly address the problems, as well as how fully the person participates in treatment are determinants of success. Many treatment professionals, though, would be quick to say that the most important factor, by far, is the willingness and participation of the individual undergoing treatment.
Unfortunately, relapses can and do occur. This does not mean treatment was a failure. In fact, to successfully treat addiction, individuals must be continually evaluated and their treatment plan tweaked.
This is similar to what we do for any other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. While undergoing treatment, diabetes and hypertension can be brought under control. This defines success in treating those illnesses. However, when treatment stops and diabetes and hypertension symptoms start popping up, we do not say that the treatment failed. Rather, chronic diseases need continual attention and treatment in order to maintain the symptom-free status. Addiction is no different.
This is not to say that the addicted must be in a facility for the rest of their lives. It means that they will need to take steps to maintain their recovery indefinitely. Obtaining treatment from a drug rehab is like triage – and once that critical period has passed and things are under control, the person must incorporate coping mechanisms, 12-step meetings, and similar methods into their daily lives.
Relapses are not failures. Instead, they simply mean that more treatment is needed and/or that adjustments need to be made.
Just as with any other chronic disease, the goal is to reduce symptoms and improve health and functioning in everyday life. It’s important that the facility treat any underlying co-occurring mental conditions,such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder as well, and that ongoing recommendations for treatment continue. Most addiction does not happen in a vacuum – there is a reason that the addicted turn to drugs to get through life.
Just as individuals vary in their success rate with conquering addiction, so do facilities. That’s why it’s important to look into each facility and their treatment modalities and philosophy. A drug rehab that is right for one person may not be for another.
4. Is rehab really necessary (can’t I just do it on my own)?
Drug addiction causes changes to the brain which drive those who are addicted to use again and again… even as negative consequences pile up.
In trying to stop using unaided, addicts are trying to fight their own brain – a very difficult thing to do. Simply put, it’s not a matter of willpower any longer. That is why it is so much easier to not only stop using drugs but to stay off of drugs with the help of a team of professionals who can assist with every stage, from detoxing from the drug’s harmful effects to finding the root cause of addiction to learning strategies and building a support system.
Addiction is a disease, and relapse rates are similar to those we see in other chronic diseases, according to drugabuse.gov. You wouldn’t try to conquer diabetes or heart disease on your own. For that same reason, it’s best to seek professional help for addiction.
5. What happens at a drug rehab?
Depending on the facility, clients will first go through a process of detoxing from the drugs they were using. It takes about five to seven days to physically withdraw from a drug, or to get most of it out of your system and move past the most acute effects. During this time, many recovering addicts feel ill, or “dope sick.”
After detox comes an inpatient or partial hospitalization level of care (otherwise known as “day/night treatment”). This level of care (again, depending on the facility) provides 24/7 monitoring along with individual and group therapy, outdoor activities, excursions, and even external 12-step meetings to establish a circle of support.
During the first two weeks, clients may still feel some lingering effects of the drugs (called post-acute withdrawal system, or PAWS) as the body adjusts to life without the drug. However, they will continue to improve as time goes on. The aim is to bring clients to an understanding of what is driving them to use drugs, and to equip them to be able to achieve and maintain lifelong sobriety.
After a typical 30 to 45 days of partial hospitalization treatment or inpatient care, clients step down into the intensive outpatient level. Typically, they still live in sober living facilities with others who are also recovering from addiction, yet their in-facility treatment drops to half a day, five days a week. After clients stabilize here, they may drop to three days as week. This still allows for clients to build a network of support, hunt for employment, and attend 12-step meetings and church services or other functions as they so choose… all while still receiving treatment.
After intensive outpatient, clients may also continue with an outpatient level of care, which involves fewer hours of treatment and greater freedom. Clients will live on their own (or in a sober living facility if they choose), and attend anywhere from one to three hours a week of therapy.
6. Can I talk with my family member in (or outside of) drug rehab?
Drug addiction doesn’t just affect you – it affects everyone your life touches. Those closest to you are affected the most, and typically that is your family. It is entirely possible that there are family genetics and dynamics that contributed to (or increased susceptibility to) developing addiction. Sometimes family members become “co-dependent,” unknowingly enabling the addictive behaviors they wish to quell. For all these reasons and more, family wellness should be a component of any drug rehab treatment program.
That said, how this is carried out depends on the needs of the patient. Some may need to cease all contact at first and then gradually loop the family in. In other cases, the addict may benefit from regular check-ins, for example, with their young children (and the children may benefit as well).
Imagine being on a flight that suddenly experiences trouble. As a precaution, the oxygen masks are released and passengers are asked to put them on. What is it the flight attendants say? Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. The simple reason for this is that you can’t help others unless you help yourself first. Therefore, good drug rehab treatment typically focuses on helping the addict first, then extending that help outward to the family and friends.
Remember that you will need to sign a consent form in order to have a family member (or any individual) contact you. If you don’t, the treatment center cannot even confirm or deny your presence at their facility to that person.
7. How do I go from drug rehab to a normal life?
Drug rehabs generally have step-down levels of care which allows you to gradually ease back into normal life over time. It’s important not to rush things, so that you do not become overwhelmed. You may have started with a day/night program or inpatient treatment, which involves 24/7 care. Going from that high level of care right back into the real world can be a recipe for disaster. Instead, look for facilities which add intensive outpatient and outpatient steps to your treatment plan. With those additional levels of care, along with a sober living component, you can gradually take on more and more until you are ready to fully be immersed in the demands of everyday life.
For example, you can start with completing household chores. While you are mastering that, you are learning to relate to other people when you are clean and sober by living in a sober home or halfway house. Next, you may look for a job and then concentrate on becoming a solid, steady performer at that job. Finally, you may move out of the sober home and back in with your family, or on your own. It may take up to a year to fully integrate back into society and to feel as though there is solid ground under your feet, but it’s a year well-spent — a year invested into a rewarding, clean life. Twelve months that pull you out of the lowest depths, back onto a road that is going somewhere. Three hundred sixty-five days that gives you a future. What can be better than that?
Programs with a strong alumni component can help you in completing your first year of sobriety or being clean with support and regular contact. As busy as you may get, don’t neglect your recovery. Without that, the rest of your life is not possible.
8. How much does drug rehab cost?
Facilities vary widely in the amounts they charge for a drug rehab program. Generally, smaller, more intimate facilities charge less than do large-scale ones. Many of them take insurance, so if you are covered by a health plan, be sure to ask about that. Also, something to keep in mind as a general rule of thumb is that, the more intensive the care, the more it costs. However, typically you aren’t at the most intensive levels (detox, day/night treatment and inpatient) for long, and so after the initial period of about 30 to 45 days, the cost decreases.
Some facilities offer scholarships, or even partial scholarships, for those who are not covered by insurance. Some may offer special private-pay rates and/or break up their fees into smaller payments, allowing those to be put on a credit card. This is helpful if a friend or family member is pitching in for the addict’s care. It’s important that the addict be really ready to change, so that this investment in their recovery isn’t wasted. Some people, after recovering through treatment, make payments back to the friend or family member who helped them in their time of need.
According to the Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, “well-supported scientific evidence shows that treatment for substance use disorders- including inpatient, residential, and outpatient – are cost-effective compared with no treatment.” This means that it actually ends up costing less overall to receive treatment than it does to let the addiction continue. Think about that for a minute!
Many drug rehab facilities have 24-hour phone lines where you can speak to an admissions counselor and find out about payment options. Don’t let money stand in the way of getting treatment. If one treatment facility can’t help you, call another. Many times, admissions counselors will have an idea of who will take your insurance, for example, or which facility takes Medicare or Medicaid, or which one will provide detox services for those who have no financial means.
Just ask, and you’ll find most people are more than willing to help.
Whether it’s for you or a family member, drug rehab can be life-changing for those struggling with addiction.
Unfortunately, only 10% of those who need addiction treatment from a substance abuse rehab receive it. There are many reasons why this is true; however, it is unfortunate.
According to a Surgeon General’s report, one in seven Americans will face addiction. That means that each of us knows someone (or knows someone who knows someone) who is struggling with addiction. Until the addict is ready to face their addiction head on, all you can do is let them know you are there and be ready when they are to do something about it. We can also provide a support system for those whose friends or family members may be struggling. Know that help is out there, and people all over the world have and do recover from the horrors of addiction. I see it every day, and it’s what keeps me going.