What to Look for in a Residential Treatment Facility

The decision to enter rehab is one of the most important decisions a substance abuser can make, and the next step is finding the right program. As PsychCentral discusses, it is most advisable to discuss treatment service options – such as inpatient/residential versus outpatient rehab – with a qualified counselor during a diagnostic assessment.

When paying for rehab is a concern, the matter should be raised with a counselor who can help identify affordable programs or those that accept the substance abuser’s health insurance. The assessment will weigh the pros and cons of different programs to make the best recommendation based on the client’s specific treatment needs. In the event that a residential program is most advisable, this treatment model usually includes the following features:

  • Lasts a minimum of 28 days
  • Immersion in a safe, structured, drug-free environment
  • Daily schedule that focuses on intensive treatment for substance abuse
  • Inpatient care can be especially helpful for clients who require detoxification and/or medication services to manage potentially dangerous or uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms

The substance abuser’s history of treatment services may be another factor in selecting a residential program. Those who have received outpatient rehab treatment and relapsed often achieve success in a residential program as living on site and receiving intensive care services provide additional safeguards against relapse or early termination. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) points out, 40 to 60 percent of substance abusers relapse, based on research reported in 2008.

For those who are new to rehab, entering a residential facility can start the process out on secure footing and help to achieve a successful outcome. It is important for substance abusers who are considering entering rehab to understand that there is no single right way to go about recovery other than finding the program that is right for him or her.

Weighing the Options

Some prospective clients may be hesitant to join an inpatient program before first finding out if outpatient services would be sufficient. Anyone who has this concern is urged to raise it with a counselor who can help guide him or her to the best choice. In certain cases, a counselor and/or a family member may be concerned that opting for outpatient treatment is a sign of lack of commitment. This will not always be the case, but it can happen. For this reason, it is best to work with a qualified counselor and involve supportive family members in the decision-making process when possible.

To stem any fear about immersion in a residential treatment program, substance abusers should be advised that family involvement is one of the hallmarks of most programs. Many rehab centers invite family members and loved ones for group therapy sessions, educational programming, and workshops. Rehab specialists understand that loved ones are often instrumental to helping a substance abuser into rehab, and their involvement remains a helpful part of the healing process.

While no words can fully explain what the experience of residential treatment will be like, prospective clients do not have to enter blind. A counselor at the rehab center will discuss the course of treatment with the incoming client and lay out what to expect on a day-to-day basis. The more one knows about what to expect from residential rehab, the less likely they are to be influenced by pre-existing prejudices that may have no connection to the real experience.

What to Expect

Addiction specialists understand that no two rehab clients are alike, even if they are abusing the same substances. While substance abuse experiences vary, certain features (such as the physical aspects of addiction, like cravings and side effects) are common, and different people can benefit from the same treatment methodologies (such as withdrawal medications like methadone, and individual and group counseling). While a generalized discussion of what to expect to rehab may not exactly mirror a person’s experience, it does provide insight into how these programs are structured.

To demystify the process and clear up any misconceptions, the following information provides a window into what really happens in a residential treatment program:

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  • Freedom. There are no locks on the door, and clients are free to move about.
  • Varying accommodations. Centers vary widely in appearance and amenities range from basic to luxury standards (the quality level of the accommodation is not as predictive of success as individual commitment).
  • Education. Treatment includes releasing delusions about one’s addiction (such as denial) and learning about the nature of addiction and its effects on the brain and the body.
  • Counseling. One of the cornerstones of rehab and relapse prevention, both individual and group counseling (often modeled after the 12-Step program) may begin during drug treatment but are an advisable part of a lifelong recovery plan.
  • An aftercare plan. Since the intensive residential part of treatment may not exceed 28 days, the assigned rehab counselor will work with the client to provide a structured aftercare plan that may include living at a sober facility, joining a local 12-Step group, checking in on a weekly basis with a counselor, and other supportive post-rehab plans.

Even the best structured residential program is no substitute for one’s commitment to sobriety, which is the key ingredient of recovery success. A residential program provides the necessary tools, at an intensive level, to help a recovering substance abuser not only to jumpstart the recovery process but to also make it long-lasting. Residential programs provide a supportive environment, in part, to show recovering substance abusers how to create successful support networks in their lives post-rehab. Although the around-the-clock care and heightened attention to the substance abuser’s needs that occur in rehab cannot be mimicked in life, it does not need to be because rehab teaches one how to care for himself, and in so doing, to make decisions and build a life that is not dependent on drugs or alcohol.


Our admissions coordinators are available to confidentially discuss your, or your loved one’s, substance abuse and treatment needs. In order to assess your needs, we will speak with you about the immediate reason for your call, and ask for important information including your demographics, treatment history, and insurance or financing options. Call now.

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