Asking the Right Questions to Find the Best Alcoholism Treatment Program

By Stefanie Hamilton

Trying to find the right alcohol treatment program can be confusing and overwhelming. There are seemingly countless options. This list of questions will give you a place to start, but it’s important that you ask as many questions as you need in order to feel comfortable with a particular program.

What is your program like?

Different treatment centers offer different programs; everything from outpatient detox to longer term residential programs. And some of them can be very strict (which can be a necessity for heavy users). Some residential programs limit the amount of contact patients can have with people outside the program; some even limit the amount of time patients can spend outside the building. In less acute cases, such as outpatient treatment or a transitional living program, patients simply come to the treatment center for therapy, but enjoy relative normalcy in the rest of their lives.

Not every program is suited for every person, so it’s important to find out exactly what each program entails; what would be required of you, your family, and your friends. Speak to a staff member (one with medical experience, if possible) and ask for his or her honest opinion. Ultimately, though, the decision has to be right for you.

What are the costs associated with each program?

Getting accurate information about the cost of a program can be tricky. Most treatment centers can give you a per-day, per-week, or per-month cost, but you should ask about additional costs as well. Some services are pay-as-needed, and things like medication or therapy sessions may not be included.

The best way to find out what your total cost will be is to have an assessment done at the treatment center and have them recommend a tailor-made program. Once it’s all been put together, ask for a line-item breakdown of the treatment.

Do you have health care professionals on staff?

Some treatment programs are run primarily by people who are themselves recovering addicts, or family members of recovering addicts. They have first-hand experience, which is great, but they may be lacking important medical and/or counseling training which is vital for successful recovery.

Health care professionals can provide a higher, more individualized level of care, especially in the initial stages of detoxification. Staff members that are certified in addiction counseling or treatment can also offer a higher level of care because they have a better understanding of the physiology and psychology of addiction and alcohol abuse.

Ask treatment centers about the experience level, training, and accreditation of their staff, and of the program itself.

Does the program include family therapy?

Alcoholism and alcohol abuse don’t affect just one person; they affect the entire family. As such, family therapy is an important part of any recovery program. Family members may not realize how much they’ve been affected by the addiction or abuse until they sit down to process their thoughts and emotions. The family unit as a whole needs to be restored to health, and that can only happen if the entire family is involved in therapy.

Find out which treatment centers offer family therapy as part of their recovery programs, and ask for details. Some will offer workshops aimed at teaching family members more about the causes and consequences of alcohol abuse or addiction. Other programs will offer family counseling sessions. The more comprehensive the family program, the better.

Do you have an aftercare program?

Though a treatment program is an important first step, addiction or alcohol abuse recovery is a lifelong process. You may spend three to six months in a treatment program, but you’ll spend the rest of your life implementing what you learn there.

An aftercare program will help you make and maintain the changes you need for a successful, long-term recovery by continuing your counseling sessions, giving you access to physicians and/or other health care professionals, and holding you accountable for your choices.