steve castleman

SFYB Staff Writer

How Do You Find A Good Rehab?

By: Steve Castleman

It takes courage to break through denial and begin to consider getting professional help. It may start with a glimpse, a fleeting flash of willingness. Such a moment should not be wasted.


And yet, as soon as you start thinking about rehab, for yourself or a loved one, you face a daunting challenge: finding a good one. It’s such an important decision that it makes sense to take as much time as necessary to fully research the choices.

But the more time it takes, the more likely it is you or your loved one will succumb to denial’s fallback position: delay. Waiting risks squandering a moment of willingness and prolonging the agony of addiction.

How do you shop for a rehab?


First, search for websites that review them. They can give you an overview of what’s available. But it’s hard to know whether they’re truly objective or just another marketing tool, so be skeptical. Use them as a starting point for further investigation, not an end point.


If you have friends or family you’re comfortable talking to, they are often a good source of referrals. If you don’t, support groups for addicts and their families can not only provide invaluable help in coping with addiction, they are a collective repository of information about rehabs, particularly local ones. (Meeting schedules for both 12-Step and non-12-Step support groups are available on the web).

How do you evaluate a rehab?


The key to success in rehab is immersion in a therapeutic community. Therapeutic communities are made up of people, starting with doctors, nurses and counselors. Their training and experience enables them to create a safe space for patients to confront the hard truths of their addictions. That spurs patients to risk being honest with themselves and others, building and strengthening the therapeutic community and making it more effective in sharing successful strategies for sobriety.



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In evaluating rehabs, try to assess their staff. If possible, visit potential rehabs with someone you trust who can add to your impressions. Talk to the Intake Director and as many other employees as you can, including volunteers, if they have them, who are likely to be alumni of the rehab. (Don’t expect to talk to current patients, however, as that would compromise their medical privacy.)


Ask a lot of questions. What’s the staff’s training and experience? How long have they been involved in addiction treatment? How long have they been at this particular rehab? How many are recovering addicts themselves? How long have they been sober? How do they accommodate special needs like dietary restrictions? What about family counseling and Aftercare?

The answers to these questions, together with referrals from friends or support-group members, will help you get a feel for which rehabs might be a good fit. In making a decision, remember that a good staff makes a good rehab.

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steve castleman
Steve Castleman writes about the subjective view of addicts -- how they feel and act -- and the neuroscience explaining why they feel and act that way. He is also the author of a memoir.

Filed under: Rehab