Just as there are appropriate questions to ask when seeking the best place to receive treatment for cancer, heart disease or surgery, that same discipline needs to be applied to seeking treatment for addiction.
By Dr. Ronald J. Hunsicker, President/CEO of National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP)
Perhaps the most important process to undertake once the decision has been made to seek treatment for your addiction or the addiction of a family member is "how do I go about making the best decision on matching our needs with the strengths of a particular treatment organization?" Just as there are appropriate questions to ask when seeking the best place to receive treatment for cancer, heart disease or surgery, that same discipline needs to be applied to seeking treatment for addiction. It is just as important to ask the right questions for treatment of addiction, so these questions have been developed to assist you in determining which treatment organization best meets your needs.
1. What state licenses and national accreditations does your organization hold?
It is extremely important that the delivery of health care be both regulated and periodically reviewed. By being licensed and by being accredited, an addiction treatment organization commits itself to maintaining the highest standards possible and to participating in continuous quality improvement processes.
2. What are your organization's education and licensing requirements for counselors? Can you supply a list with their education, licenses and credentials?
Treatment of addiction is directly linked to the clinical staff that delivers the treatment that it is important for you to review the clinical staff and their credentials. You need to be comfortable both with the staff and their training and experience.
It is absolutely essential that you and your family understand the communication process.
3. Have you had any clinical practice lawsuits filed against your organization in the last three years?
While lawsuits are not necessarily an indicator of negligence, they may give you information about the culture of the organization and the way others have experienced the organization.
4. Are there family sessions, when are they scheduled?
It is absolutely essential that you and your family understand the communication process in terms of frequency and the quality of communication. Your input about treatment is best addressed prior to commencing treatment. Clear expectations and clear accountability eliminates a lot of anxiety for the patient and family members as the treatment process progresses.
5. Do you accept insurance and will you process that for me?
We all know that good health and recovery from addiction is priceless, but at the same time all of us are limited by our resources. It is important to have the treatment organization completely explain all the costs associated with treatment in their organization and review the various payment options. Their experience with insurance is very important to understand and to recognize that you may be responsible for any unpaid balance not covered by your insurance company.
6. What are my responsibilities during treatment? Are there limitations on my normal personal activities?
Addiction treatment may contain a different component than some other forms of health care. You may have access to your phone and contact with family and friends limited. You may be required to participate in activities provided by the treatment organization. It is critical that you have these options explained to you prior to engaging in treatment.
7. What can I realistically expect after my treatment with your organization?
When you have a hip replacement, it is standard to ask the physician what to expect in terms of mobility, range of motion, etc after surgery. Likewise, it is important to ask the treatment organization what to expect in terms of change, behavior, etc as a result of treatment. Since addiction is a chronic disease, treatment is about getting you started on the path of managing the disease for the rest of your life.
8. What resources do you provide in assisting me to manage my disease for the rest of my life after I leave your treatment program?
For most persons, the treatment experience is the beginning of a journey that lasts the rest of their life. This disease needs management as does hypertension, diabetes, etc. You should know what support services this organization has available for you and what is and is not included in your total costs.
9. How will my other medical professionals be informed about my treatment for addictive disease disorder?
As health care becomes more and more integrated, communication between all health care providers will grow in importance. Knowing the position this organization takes in terms of keeping or not keeping your health care providers informed will be critical.
10. What is your position on the use of medication to assist me in maintaining abstinence both initially and long term?
There is a growing reliance on the use of medication to assist persons with their abstinence. For some persons the decision to use medication frees them up to take the step toward recovery. For some organizations, the use of medication is not part of what they offer. It is essential that you get all the information possible on the different ways to approach treatment for your disease and that you select an organization that offers an approach that best meets your needs.
All Treatment does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information.