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Beware of Bait & Switch: 6 Signs of an Effective Treatment Center

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Beware of Bait & Switch: 6 Signs of an Effective Treatment Center

Let’s get down to brass tacks: for most people, substance abuse is not a well-understood disease. Getting help feels daunting and foreign. Loved ones often find themselves at a loss as they try to help and find treatment options for their struggling spouses, children, and friends with a confusing and scary vice. How does one go about fixing a problem that defies reason? What makes an effective treatment center?

Effective Treatment Center
It’s easy to get caught up in the maze of treatment centers offering resort-like comfort. The promises of cozy mattresses, ocean views, and catered meals open the average layperson up to misdirection, distraction, and general hoodwinkery. Unfortunately, treatment centers are often driven by profits and the “bottom line” at the expense of quality therapy. We’re here to help you look past the fluff and understand what important questions you should ask.

Rehab is not about the amenities. Although they help make a pretty package on the outside, the real signs of an effective treatment facility center around the program itself.

#1 Proof of Licenses & Credentials

Hands down, a rehab facility’s credentials are the most important indicators that it’s a reputable treatment center. Accrediting bodies for behavioral health exist solely to protect people (i.e. prospective clients) and their families through defining ethical standards and facility evaluations. The big standards in the addiction treatment industry are:

Joint Commission

Joint Commission is a nonprofit organization in the United States that accredits medical services on the national level. In order to get JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) certified, treatment facilities must pass requirements from several classes, including:

Individual-Focused Requirements

Infection Prevention & Control • Medication Management • Provision of Care, Treatment, And Services • Rights and Responsibilities of the Individual • Record of Care • Treatment and Services • Waiver Testing

Organization-Focused Requirements

Emergency Management • Environment of Care • Treatment or Services • Resources • Information Management • Leadership • Performance Improvement • Life Safety

This is not an exhaustive list, but it does hint at the work that goes into becoming JACHO certified. Facilities must pass on-site surveys from JAHCO inspectors to receive and maintain accreditation.

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CARF is an acronym for the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, a non-profit organization founded by a former US Social and Rehabilitation Services Commissioner. This organization offers a consultative accreditation process that specializes in improving the quality of rehab facility services. It follows internationally recognized program standards for addiction treatment.

Core Treatment Program Standards

Assertive Community Treatment • Assessment and Referral • Case Management/Services Coordination • Community Housing • Community Integration • Court Treatment • Crisis Intervention • Crisis Stabilization • Day Treatment • Detoxification/Withdrawal Management • Diversion/Intervention • Employee Assistance • Inpatient Treatment • Integrated Behavioral Health/Primary Care • Intensive Family-Based Services • Intensive Outpatient Treatment • Out-of-Home Treatment • Outpatient Treatment • Partial Hospitalization • Prevention • Residential Treatment • Specialized or Treatment Foster Care • Student Counseling • Supported Living • Therapeutic Communities

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#2 Staff Education Level

Master’s Degrees & Industry Certification

Unfortunately, the staff of treatment facilities are not as regulated as, say, the staff of a university. There is no guarantee that you or your loved one’s therapists will have master’s degrees. But good facilities will offer this, and they will be 100% transparent about the education level and credentials of their staff. Look for these degrees:

Doctorate Level

Doctorate in Psychology – Psy.D. or PhD

PhD Psychology

Graduate Level

MFT – Marriage and Family Therapist

Master’s in Social Work (MSW)

#3 Full Time vs. Contract Staff

Consider Staff-to-Client Ratio

It’s really easy to “contract out” the heavy lifting of treatment to private practice therapists and psychiatrists, or to keep a handful of part time staff on call. Those methods, however, benefits a treatment center’s bottom line rather than your or your loved one’s welfare. To avoid this, ask these questions beforehand to investigate how invested the staff is:

  • How many full time therapists are on staff?
  • What’s your staff-to-client ratio? (For reference, New Start has more than three full time staff members for each client bed)
  • How much experience do your therapists have in addiction treatment?
  • What is your day to day activity curriculum?
  • How many groups happen each day?

If you’d like to know more about what questions to ask, our addiction counselors are very transparent about what you should look for: 855-737-7363

#4 Therapeutic Modalities

Range of Therapies

As a reference point, we offer these therapeutic programs:


Adventure Therapy

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Rock to Recovery

Music Therapy

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Family Night

Therapy for Loved Ones

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Serenity Sunday

Monthly Alumni Event

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Sober Bowling

Alumni Networking Event

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Weekly Meetings

Free Aftercare Therapy

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#5 Continuum of Care

How Long is the Program?

When you invest in one comprehensive treatment program, you don’t waste time trying to recreate the wheel. Stability acts as a boon to a successful treatment environment. When working with the same individuals over a period of time, you establish feelings of comfort and familiarity. This encourages people to open up to the treatment process and really invest in therapy. Full time staff really helps in this department as well, as it’s more likely that clients will stay with the same therapists and case managers.

There are three main phases of treatment. Read more about New Start’s program, or talk to our one of our addiction counselors for a free consultation: 855-737-7363


Get Clean Safely

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Inpatient Treatment Care

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Building Sobriety

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#6 Aftercare Options

Alumni Network, Family Groups, Free Events

Reputable treatment centers offer free comprehensive aftercare. Period. Since recovery is a lifelong process, it’s only reasonable to expect that your treatment center will have your back the rest of the way, free of residual costs. New Start takes pride in building our treatment family and alumni network, and we take care of our own for life.

What does that mean, exactly? We offer weekly fellowship meetings, open family group nights, lifetime Phoenix Multisport memberships, and a multitude of other free sober events. If you’d like to hear more about our free aftercare, talk to an addiction counselor today: 855-737-7363

What Makes an Effective Treatment Center

In the end, amenities definitely make a stay in treatment more comfortable. But they are not what makes an effective treatment center. Don’t get fooled by the bait and switch tactics of treatment centers who talk a big game, but lack effective programs.

Effectiveness grows from component parts. Accreditation, investment in full-time qualified staff, a range of therapeutic modalities, continuum of care, and a strong aftercare program are great measures of any treatment center. Be sure to ask about all of those factors before entrusting them with you or your loved one’s life.

If you’re ready to get help for substance abuse, talk to one of our addiction counselors any time: 855-737-7363

Posted in Addiction, Detox, Featured, For Loved Ones, Recovery, Residential