10 Questions to Select the Best Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program for Your Daughter

Different drug and alcohol dependent or addicted patients require different treatment settings based on age, diagnostic profile, maturity of addiction, type of addiction, and gender. This means that there is a dizzying array of drug rehab, and drug and alcohol rehab options available. Selecting the right one for your daughter can seem overwhelming at first. The following questions can help you make the best match between your daughter and the drug treatment or alcohol treatment program you select for her.

  1. Does the program specialize in the treatment of adolescent girls and/or young women?

    Research supports the increased efficacy of single-gender treatment – especially for females who have experienced sexual trauma, promiscuity, or abuse. Programs that specialize in single-gender treatment can often move to underlying issues more quickly and effectively than co-ed programs. Young women are more likely to engage verbally in the treatment process in a single-gender environment, meaning that their treatment program will move more quickly and effectively.

  2. Does the program provide approaches beyond 12-step, such as SMART Recovery or Motivational Interviewing?

    The twelve-step model provides a wonderful, tried and true recovery option for many people and, because of its ubiquity, is an easily accessible resource after treatment. In conjunction with other approaches, however, such as SMART Recovery and motivational interviewing, many suffering from chemical dependence or addiction are better equipped to effectively achieve and maintain sobriety.

  3. Is the program focused exclusively on drug and/or alcohol rehab or is it designed to treat adolescents with dual diagnoses?

    Some programs are focused primarily or exclusively on treating substance abuse; these programs are best for patients who are not suffering from a complex constellation of one or more issues – such as depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, or oppositional-defiant disorder – in addition to substance abuse. Programs designed to treat patients with a dual diagnosis treat both the addictive behavior and the underlying pathology that may drive that behavior.

  4. Are there alumni parents and program graduates that you can speak with?

    Most reputable programs will have alumni parents and program graduates you can speak with. These are usually, of course, families who have had a good experience of the program. Be sure not to just ask for the list of families; it’s critical to actually talk to these people! Can you relate to their story? Did they get the kind of help that you feel you and your daughter need? Does their description of the program resonate with you or leave you flat? These are the people who can most accurately and objectively give you information about what it’s like to be a client family at one of these programs. It’s not unusual to have these calls turn into supportive, long-term relationships too!

  5. Is a transitional or aftercare program offered or recommended by the rehab program?

    Statistically, treatment is much less effective without a program of aftercare to help the patient transfer skills learned in treatment to the real world. Ask whether this service is provided by the program or if they have a relationship with an aftercare program that they recommend. In either case, the program should include community-based support; this support should include identifying and coordinating local resources, and at least one visit with patient in her home environment. A family aftercare component is recommended as well. Ideally, this program is flexible and can be expanded or contracted according to the needs of the patient.

  6. What are the credentials of the staff?

    Any adolescent treatment facility should have licensed therapists, medical personnel (e.g. nurse or physician), and psychiatric support. A program with a drug rehab component should also have at least one regionally certified drug and alcohol specialist, such as CAADAC in California, AAC or CAC in Utah, etc.

  7. Does the program provide detox or does detox need to take place prior to admission?

    Detox is a medical procedure that safely removes drug and alcohol toxins from the system so that the treatment process can commence. Some programs require detox prior to treatment, which means that a short hospital stay is required prior to admission. For planning purposes, it is important to know if your drug and alcohol treatment program does detox in-house or requires it prior to placement.

  8. Is there a family component to the program?

    Most therapists and drug and alcohol counselors agree that the family system is almost always part of the etiology of addiction and, therefore, should be part of the treatment process as well for best results. Ask about the frequency, format, and cost of these family services so that you can prepare emotionally and financially to take full advantage of them.

  9. Does the program provide payment plans or other financial assistance?

    Unfortunately, providing adequately staffed 24/7 medical, psychiatric, therapeutic, and educational support in a residential setting is expensive; there is no easy way around that expense. Because you don’t want to compromise quality of care or placement appropriateness, payment options, rather than bargain prices, are what you should be looking for to make the financial aspect of treatment more manageable. Ask about payment plans and insurance reimbursement options (ask your own insurance company too). In rare cases, treatment programs may have a scholarship fund or endowment to help families with demonstrable financial need.

  10. Is the program accredited? By whom?

    There are stringent national and regional accreditations that you should look for in a treatment program. The foundational accrediting bodies are JHACO, CARF, and CERT, so be sure the program has at least one of these. If the program is long-term and includes an academic component, you may want to check on their school accreditation status. Some programs utilize distance learning options, in which case you should check on the accreditations those distance learning providers have.

You will have your own questions too, some of which are factual questions and some of which are “gut” questions (What’s the food like? Is it a warm place or a sterile place? Does the staff love their work? Will my daughter feel safe and welcome?). Write them down – anxiety can make questions tough to remember when it comes time to ask them. Remember that no question is off limits when you’re selecting a drug and alcohol treatment program for your daughter! Some of these questions – especially the gut questions – are best answered by visiting and seeing/feeling for yourself. If you are able to do so, visit your top two or three choices before making a decision. Eat the food. Talk to the girls. Insist on meeting and talking to staff from every department. Good luck. There is hope.