Evaluating addiction treatment services and providers is one of the toughest – and most important – decisions you will ever have to make for yourself or your loved one.

To help you navigate the landscape of the addiction treatment providers and understand why they are different, we have put together an overview of different treatment approaches and some important questions to ask.

Although some providers embrace just one treatment approach and others may combine approaches, understanding which approach or combination of approaches a provider takes, and why, is extremely helpful in determining what addiction care provider is right for you.

Different Types of Treatment

Evidenced-Based – these are treatment practices that have been clinically proven to work. An example of an evidence-based treatment is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which helps individuals identify and understand the negative thought processes that feed addiction. This active intervention works to alter these thought processes.

Holistic – the focus of holistic treatment is on addressing the individual as a whole and treating the mind-body-spirit connection. The aim of holistic treatment it to improve one’s overall health and it employs various tools and therapies, such as meditation, counseling and physical training.

12-Steps – Originated in the 1930s with the development of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the 12-Step approach has been applied to address most forms of addiction. The steps help individuals admit they have a problem and to acknowledge they need help, along with other steps to aid in their recovery process. In addition to focusing on different types of addiction, there are also different versions of 12-step programs including some that are not religious-based, like the original AA model.

Some addiction treatment providers may combine approaches to create a customized treatment plan that integrates different modalities. However, some treatment centers are more rigid in their philosophy and not only do they not incorporate aspects of other types of treatment modalities, but in some cases they may be strongly opposed to certain treatment options.

For instance, many 12-step programs are opposed to certain evidenced-based treatments, such as Medication Assisted Treatment, even though it has proven to be an essential treatment for so many with opioid-use disorders. Some treatment providers are opposed to it on principle because they feel it trades one addiction for a new dependency (click here for information about Medication Assisted Treatment).

Questions to Ask

  1. What type or types of treatments do you provide? Are there any evidenced-based treatments that you do not provide? As noted above, there are different addiction treatment philosophies and therapies. It is critical to understand these different approaches and to select a treatment provider with the philosophy and approach to addiction treatment that provides you or your loved one with the greatest chance of recovery.
  2. What is the goal of your treatment services? Although the answer may seem be obvious – sobriety and long-term recovery. Some addiction treatment providers recognize that not all suffering with addiction are ready to make the changes necessary for achieving sobriety and long-term recovery. These providers focus on delivering addiction treatment services that aim to reduce harm, instead of working toward long-term recovery. It is critical to understand the difference in focus and goals and to select a treatment provider whose mission and services best align with your treatment goals.
  3. Do you provide services for mental health conditions that are co-occurring with the drug or alcohol addiction? According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use & Health, 40% of adults suffering with substance abuse disorders are also diagnosed with a co-occurring mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder. For anyone diagnosed with both a substance abuse disorder and a mental health disorder, it is imperative to select a provider that is equipped to treat both the addiction and mental health condition in an integrated way, including a relapse prevention plan specifically designed for these co-occurring conditions.
  4. What addiction treatment services are available? Continuum of care is a term that is used to refer to the different levels or categories of care that are available as part of a provider’s portfolio of services. The types of addiction treatment care that could be available include Detoxification, Partial Hospitalization, Residential Inpatient, Intensive Outpatient, Outpatient and Aftercare. It is important to understand what stage in the rehabilitation process you are in and to select a treatment provider that is equipped to help you progress along your path to long-term recovery.

Understanding the different types of treatment philosophies and services that exist, across the different stages of rehabilitation process, is critical when choosing an addiction treatment provider. Selecting the right addiction treatment service provider is one of most important decisions you will ever have to make for yourself or your loved one, so be sure to ask questions and understand the differences, so you choose the option best suited to your needs and goals.