Things to Avoid in Treatment

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  • Treatment for addiction to alcohol and other drugs must be tailored to fit the person.
  • Treatment programs should be able to give you information, including data, that explains what they do and what their success rates are.
  • Be cautious about treatment programs that make fantastic promises.

Although beginning a treatment program is a stressful time for an addicted person and his or her family, it is an important moment to ask many questions. Try to learn as much as you can about the treatment philosophy and approach before entering a program.

Be cautious about a program that:

  • promises 24-hour detox - this rapid detoxification can be dangerous, even fatal
  • promises rapid recovery - experts believe that meaningful treatment usually takes at least 90 days, sometimes much longer
  • uses a treatment approach that's based on shaming and berating the patient - while this approach was once widely accepted, experts now see that it is not the most effective approach, and that this shaming can actually increase the chances for relapse
  • simply ousts a patient who relapses, rather than works to identify the triggers and underlying issues that put the patient at risk.
  • cannot give you information on its track record: What proportion of the patients successfully complete the program? What proportion of the patients sustain long-term recovery?
  • does not have accredited caregivers
  • employs clinicians or counselors who believe that the same plan works for people addicted to alcohol, marijuana, opiates, and stimulants

Remember that drug and alcohol treatment is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Treatments vary widely according to the addictive substance, the existence of co-occurring illnesses, the age, gender and cultural background of the patient and many other variables.