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10 Ways to Spot a Bad Substance Abuse Rehab Facility

10 Ways to Spot a Bad Substance Abuse Rehab Facility

Trying to just get help for your loved one, or even more difficult, yourself, when they are struggling with drugs or alcohol can be worrisome and frustrating under the best circumstances. Finding a good treatment facility can be even harder. There may be some signs up front that can help you figure out if this is a good or a bad treatment facility. Here are some things that you can see or find out in the very beginning that can give you a good indication that this is a bad substance abuse treatment facility.  

  1. They are not accredited. Accreditation is another governing body coming in and examining how the treatment unit works, giving their seal of approval that they are within a certain standard of care for their operation and clinical treatment of clients. Typically, you would see JCAHO (Joint Commission Accreditation Health Care Organization or CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities). While it is possible that a bad rehab could be accredited, it is much less likely than one that is not accredited. 

  1. There are no medical staff. While medical staff may not always be involved in substance abuse treatment, therapists and social workers will do a lot of the counseling, medical staff should be on hand or available for medically fragile clients or those detoxing.  

  1. They do not try to connect with other care providers in your life. A good treatment facility will try to coordinate care with your doctor, psychiatrist, probation officers, and others that are involved in your life. If they are not even trying to get permission to talk with them, that should be a warning sign. 

  1. Undisclosed fees. This may not be seen upfront, but if there are a lot of fees that you were not aware of upfront, that is a bad sign. A good rehab facility should be able to tell you with high accuracy how much their services will cost for a certain length of time. 

  1. They cannot tell you how long you will be there. While this may change as they get to know you and your circumstances, they should be able to give you an idea of how long you will be receiving treatment.  

  1. Strange or excessive fee schedules. If there are excessive fees or things you think are out of the norm, then follow that and look into it more. It may be that it is true. For example, if the rehab is mandating you take daily drug tests, and charging you hundreds of dollars for each test, that is an exorbitant fee, and likely a warning of a bad rehab. 

  1. Bad reviews. Google can be your ally in searching for a good drug rehab. Reviews may not always give you a perfect idea of what it is like, as people can be mad and leave a bad review as payback. They can, however, give you a good idea of what it is like if there are a lot of reviews describing the same things and the same experiences. 

  1. Calling a referral center? Are you calling the rehab directly or just a referral line. Some addiction referral lines will get referral fees for sending your business to them. This is not necessarily bad, but the financial incentive can cloud someone's judgment and you may end up in a treatment facility that is not fit for your needs. 

  1. Can you see it beforehand? This may not always happen, but it can be one fast way of getting a feel for the place. Is the place kept up? Or is it an expensive rehab with leaks in the ceiling and mold in the shower? 

  1. Success rates. Obviously, you want to go to the best rehab you can, and if one is openly stating their success rate is over 90%, then you would want to go there. Right? Well, be careful. Advertising ridiculous success rates may sound good, but looking at it closer, can be shady use of numbers. That 90% could mean that 90% were sober after they left rehab, and nothing more than that. It still is possible to use numbers to lie, in other words. 

While this is not a comprehensive list, paying attention to these warning signs can help you spot a bad substance abuse treatment facility and avoid it. One final note, pay attention to how you feel about the place. If you have a bad feeling, then that is likely another warning sign to listen to. Rehab is hard work, and you need a strong, competent treatment facility to help you through this journey. Use this list as a means to find that. 



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Jason Simpkins
Posted on 05/04/2018 by Jason Simpkins

Jason Simpkins is a writer at Open Counseling. He is a clinical social worker in Michigan and is dedicated to having quality mental health care available to everyone. And as a University of Michigan graduate, he says a hearty, Go Blue!