Finding the right program can set you or your loved one on the path for a lifetime of sobriety.

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Finding a good treatment center is one of the most important decisions you make when choosing to treat an addiction. The right program, with experienced counselors, can set you or your loved one on the path for a lifetime of sobriety.

Addiction treatments can vary greatly, and according to the National Institutes of Health they may include behavioral counseling, medication, medical devices that treat withdrawal symptoms, mental health evaluations and long-term follow-up care. Which of these therapies is best for your situation?

Asking the right questions to get a feel for the center’s style, the staff’s experience and techniques is an important first step in finding the best solution. Here are seven important questions to get you started.

  1. What skills are necessary for a person to maintain sobriety?

In the very beginning, the participant doesn’t need any special skills, just the willingness to give the program a try. Then, Ryan Opsahl, the director of clinical outreach at Crestview Recovery in Portland, says they need to be ready to learn and grow.

“In order to sustain long-term recovery,” Opsahl says, “you need a lot of sustainable and healthy coping skills, the ability to deal with life on life’s terms, and the ability to experience joy in your life and to be comfortable in your own skin without having to use drugs and alcohol to achieve that feeling.”

  1. Can the person’s family participate in treatment?

Many treatment centers host therapy sessions with the family. Family can include anyone from a close friend to a girlfriend, boyfriend, sister, brother, spouse, parent or adult child.

According to Opsahl, some treatment centers also have family education weekends. These are a great way for family members to meet other people who are having similar experiences and to gather information and resources to help and support them and their loved ones after treatment.

  1. What types of counseling or therapy are practiced?

Behavioral therapies are used to help patients modify their attitudes and conduct related to drug use, increase their healthy life skills, and persist with other forms of treatment. The methods can include cognitive-behavioral, family, motivational interviewing (to encourage someone to change their behavior and enter treatment), and motivational incentives therapy.

Opsahl agrees that therapy and meetings with peer groups are important and he continues on to say, “Mental health is in one big tangled ball with addiction. There’s a whole other part of treating addiction, which includes mental health disorders and trauma and attachment disorders. All of these, fall under the mental health umbrella and used to be overlooked. But now many treatment centers are treating the entire client.”

  1. Is there a religious or spiritual component of treatment?

Some people may be looking for a faith-based program and that should be determined early on. Other programs rely on the 12-step philosophy that requires participants to admit the presence of a god or higher power of the person’s choosing.

  1. What are your credentials?

When evaluating a treatment center and counselors, you should be able to go to their website and read about their certification and licensing, and the staff’s education and experience. Also, be sure to ask how long the center has been providing treatment, and what levels of training different kinds of staff have received.

  1. Is the program short or long term?

When entering a program, participants are at the highest level of care and receive the most intensive service. Then, gradually those services are scaled back. According to Opsahl, this less intense time is also crucial for the recovery. This is when plans are made to transition back into the community. This can include arrangements for long-term housing, employment, education or vocational training.

The NIH also highlights the importance of giving patients time to learn to recognize, avoid and cope with triggers they’re likely to encounter after treatment, saying that drug use changes the function of the brain and many things can trigger strong cravings.

  1. What type of support is available after treatment?

Long-term sobriety requires follow up and support to prevent a relapse. The types of aftercare that a counselor or program offers are important. Do graduates of the program have a chance to get together and talk?

“When you’re in treatment you’re surrounded by people in the same situation,” Opsahl says. “They’re working toward the same goal. Out there in the real world, the average person is kind of by themselves. Recovery in the real world looks a lot different, and that’s something discussed a lot in aftercare.”

Crestview Recovery Center in Portland, Oregon is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center with the experience to help you recover. Our caring and understanding staff members are among the most experienced in the field.