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What To Look For In An Addiction Rehab Facility

What To Look For In An Addiction Rehab Facility
Written by Seth Fletcher on October 23, 2019
Last update: February 26, 2024

For many who make a commitment to seek help with drug abuse and addiction issues, finding a suitable rehab facility is a key component when deciding to get sober. Attending a drug rehab program can not only help the addict with withdrawal symptoms, it can introduce the therapy needed in order to create a life in sobriety. Becoming sober is a very difficult thing, and if you have made the decision to seek help in the form of inpatient or outpatient treatment, it is important to do your research and not just attend whichever facility is nearest you. There are some key components to think about when deciding on what is the right rehab, and if you take the decision seriously you will be able to find a drug and alcohol addiction program that is right for you.

Initial Assessment

It is important for the addict to see their family doctor before they attend a rehabilitation program. Not only will their doctor be able to assess what level of care they might need when withdrawing from alcohol or drug use, they also have a wealth of information on what might be available to them in their area. A General Practitioner will have knowledge about local rehabilitation centres and their reputation, which can help the addict narrow down the treatment options. This is an important first step when looking into treatment facilities - instead of looking at multiple options, they might be at least be able to narrow it down to just a few. As for the medical side of the assessment, the doctor will be able to gauge what the addict's general health looks like, which can be helpful when looking into treatment. Some drug addiction centres will have a medical detox program that most patients will attend prior to starting the next step of the recovery process. By having a physical examination before going to a rehabilitation program, the addict will be able to determine whether medical detox is needed, and thus narrow down some of their options. Also, with a recent medical exam, the rehabilitation doctors will be able to see what the health status of the patient is before they attend the program, which can help in building a treatment plan that is suited for the individual's specific needs. This can be especially important if the addict suffers from a health condition that requires medication or specialized medical care.


One of the biggest things to have in mind when choosing a rehabilitation program is your budget and the cost of rehab. Knowing exactly how much you can and are willing to spend on the program will help you narrow down the choices significantly. When looking at your budget, also look at any private health insurance coverage you may have from your employer, as well as funding that might be available to you from other sources, such as family members. This will help determine your overall budget for the rehab program, which will allow you to make a better decision. Also remember to check with the facilities themselves - some are fully private, others are publicly run, while others are a bit of both. Once you decide how much money you can spend on rehab, you should then look at what might fit into that budget instead of the other way around - you would not want to have your heart set on one particular inpatient program and then realize that you cannot afford it. Determining the budget is one of the most important aspects of finding the proper rehab facility for the individual, as all other aspects of care will be determined on how much money you are able to spend.

Program Information

Once you know your budget, it is now time to look at the individual programs themselves. There is a wide variety of outpatient and inpatient programs available, so thinking about what type of program you might be interested in will help narrow down your rehab choices. For example, what is the length of stay for the program? Some rehabilitation facilities allow the patient to choose how long they will remain in treatment, while others offer a program based on a specific length of time. When thinking about how long the program runs, also check with your employer about how long you may be able to take off work. If your employer does not allow for a long leave of absence, you can also look into outpatient programs. Outpatient rehab usually requires patients to check in daily, participate in individual therapy and group counselling sessions, and in some cases, submit to drug testing. Although outpatient programs allow the addict to continue their usual daily activities, you will need to ensure that you have flexibility in your schedule so that you can attend all mandatory appointments. Again, speaking with your employer would be strongly advised, as you will have to have some leniency when it comes to working hours.

In addition to the duration of rehab, it is wise to check what the admission requirements are for the different rehabilitation facilities. Some do not require you to be sober when you arrive, while others do. If the rehab program requires sobriety upon check in, you might need to look into medically supervised detox programs. These programs are short in duration, they ensure that addicts can safely get through any withdrawal symptoms, and they ensure that you arrive at the rehabilitation facility with the required sobriety.

When choosing a rehabilitation facility, it is also important to check if the facility has any wait times. Depending on the facility, you may need to go onto a wait list, meaning that you have to decide how to handle the time between choosing a rehabilitation centre and the time of actual admission. Some addicts may not be able to handle waiting for rehab without a relapse, and if this is the case, it is critical to choose a facility with no waiting list.

Approach to Therapy

There is a lot to be said when looking at a rehabilitation centre’s approach to therapy. Some facilities will take more of a holistic treatment approach, meaning they treat the addict's mind, body and spirit. These facilities will create a program specific to the individual's unique needs, and may be better suited to treating severe addictions to heroin, alcohol, opioids and other substances, and to managing dual diagnosis situations. Treatment methods might include counselling, mindfulness practices such as yoga and nutrition, art and music therapy, and more. Alternatively, there are rehab programs that are mainly therapy-based, where patients participate in both individual and group therapy. These programs try to get at the root cause of the person’s addiction and often offer extensive aftercare in the way of continued therapy.

Twelve-Step programs are often used in rehabilitation centres as a way of giving the addict the tools they will need once they leave the facility. These programs are often paired up with outside twelve-step support groups that will come to the facility to hold a meeting. This can be a great way for the addict to create a community within the twelve-step program, something that is important when trying to achieve long term sobriety. If patients in the rehabilitation facility are able to make connections with sober people in the outside world, they can continue these friendships once their therapy is finished, and this may help them stay sober. It is also important to look at what type of aftercare is provided by the facility. When people are able to have continued care after their addiction treatment program is finished, they can gain helpful skills in dealing with everyday life challenges, which they have been sheltered from during their stay at the facility. Having extra help after the rehab program finishes can help the individual find long term sobriety.


Along with the therapy approach, it is very important to check the facility’s credentials. Rehabilitation programs take many forms, so care can vary from one facility to the next. Some questions that you may want to look into are as follows:

  • If the program offers a medical detoxification, what type of supervision does it have?
  • What type of therapists do they hire - counsellors, psychologists or psychiatrists?
  • If there is aftercare, who is the treatment provider for this?
  • Does the facility itself have the proper accreditation or certification for their services?

If any of these questions seem important to you, then it would be good to take a look at this information before deciding on which rehabilitation facility you will attend.

Facility Environment

When choosing an inpatient treatment facility, it is important to know what type of environment you will be healing in. Some facilities, such as the Canadian Centre For Addictions, have five-star estates with many different activities such as swimming and yoga, in addition to top quality treatment. Others are more basic, providing living conditions that are comfortable but may be somewhat institutional, and just a few recreational activities. Another aspect of the facility’s environment is what type of population it serves. Some facilities cater to all genders while others only allow a single gender. You can also find facilities that provide care specifically to different communities such as Indigenous or LGBTQ. If any of these factors are important to how you receive the help provided, then taking a close look at the environment the facility provides should be a consideration as you make your choice.

Another thing to consider is where you would actually like to receive treatment. Some people prefer to be close to home, in facilities that friends and family members can easily get to for visits or family therapy sessions. Others might need to be in a completely different environment that enables them to distance themselves from people who they may have used with, or who trigger complicated emotions. All of these factors should be taken into account as it could determine how successful the addict's addiction treatment is.


Another consideration is how long the rehab centre has been around and what people are saying about it. If a centre is a veteran in the field of drug and alcohol rehabilitation, they will be a well-organized facility that knows how to treat addictions successfully. By reading what former residents say about the facility, you can get a sense of what you might expect when going into the program, and this can be very helpful when making a decision about treatment. Not only will the reviews say something about the facility itself, they might also mention what it is like to work with the staff on hand. It is very important, when seeking help for addiction, to find professionals you can trust, because the counselling that is done at these facilities can be quite intense. If past residents speak highly of the facility and staff, you can be assured that your stay will be a helpful step on your road to recovery.

When looking at the reviews, you can also take a look at things such as the size of the program. For example, how many people can the rehabilitation centre accommodate at any one time? What is the size of the group sessions? What are the accommodations actually like? These kinds of questions are important to answer, as they may help determine what facility would be the best for the individual addict. If the addict needs more one-on-one time with a counsellor, going to a rehab program that has a low patient to counsellor ratio might be advised. If sharing accommodations might trigger negative behaviour, it would be important to know whether private rooms are available.

Final Thoughts

Finding the right substance abuse treatment program for the addict can seem a very difficult task. There are numerous options for those looking for help, and sifting through the different programs and figuring out the right choice might seem daunting. It is important to look at different criteria when deciding on treatment, as the needs of the individual have to be taken into account. By determining what aspects of a rehab program is important to the addict, the more likely it is that they will be happy with the facility they attend, and the more likely it is that they will have long-term success at avoiding relapse.

Photo credit: Sacred Heart. This picture has a Creative Commons attribution license.


Certified Addiction Counsellor

Seth brings many years of professional experience working the front lines of addiction in both the government and privatized sectors.

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