Carole Bennett M.A.

From Heartache to Hope

Choosing the Right Residential Rehab Program

Take your time in choosing a proper rehabiliation program

Posted Jul 08, 2014

As with many of my columns I write what is currently happening with my clients as I think it might be pertinent to others as well. I have been working with a bright career woman from Connecticut for the past several months as her son is dealing with some addiction issues.

All too often, instead of the alcoholic/addict deciding on their own that they need a recovery program, it is an outside situation that illuminates the problem and consequently strong arms the alcoholic/addict into recovery.

So it was with my clients’ son whom had a car accident which in turn sent him to rehab…again. He ended up in a residential rehabilitation program in San Diego. Why he had to go all the way to San Diego was beyond me when he lived in Connecticut, as I am certain that there are very well established residential programs right there. Maybe its ego or some think that a rehab out of state would be better with new surroundings. Hog wash. If the institution is good and accredited, why not look in your own backyard or at least in your own state.

I kept in contact with my client throughout the first week of her son’s recovery and both she and I were relieved and hopeful that maybe this time a professional recovery program would hit the mark. When I spoke to her a few days after his intake, I was distressed to learn that they had not set up any kind of specific program or mapped out what his recovery days would be consisting of. One of the restrictions was that he was prohibited from using the phone or having any contact with his family for a week, but one of the counselors said that it might be okay if he wanted to say a quick hello and he could arrange that. My client and I couldn’t help but question their honesty or creditability.

When my client started sending emails and making phone calls about the lack of communication with the staff regarding her son’s program no one got back to her. It seemed to her that there were a number of interns and case workers assigned to her son’s program, yet not one professional therapist.

Two days ago she asked me to step in and I called the facility not to check on her son (as that’s none of my business), but as a professional to ask them how they run their program, what is their mission statement and aftercare recommendations. I spoke to another case worker and was told that someone would call me back and as of this moment, no one has called.

I think you get the point that we felt this was a slip shod institution and my client felt frustrated and saddened that this may be her son’s only opportunity to grasp onto a new and healthy way of life and so far nothing was going according to plan.

So what should one look for or avoid when checking out residential rehabs for a loved one?

• Do a thorough investigation of the facility and the program. What are the credentials of the staff and who will be the point person with your loved one? Have your loved one do the initial footwork to find a program that might work for them and maybe take a trip to facility to check it out.

• How long is the program and what is their mission statement?

• What do they specialize in? Alcoholism, Opiate addition, Meth, etc.

• How informed or kept up to date with your loved ones progress are you going to be?

• Are you required to attend family therapy sessions and if so what is the agenda?

• What does the aftercare look like? What do they suggest? Do they offer an outpatient program of their own?

A few more things to consider:

• Be mindful that the recovery business is exactly that…a business and they want your money just like any other business would. I have been to many, many addiction/recovery conferences and there are hundreds of rehabs that have rented a booth or table in order to hawk their wares. Their brochures are beautiful and often give you sticky pads, emery boards, candy or Chap Stick with their name on the outside.

• I have always been wary of the spa type rehabs. I live in California and when I see the ads for the rehabs with symphonic music showing beautiful people dipping their toes into an infinity pool, I want to scream. I’m not saying that these may not work, but…really?

• Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you and your loved one are very clear and in sync with the recovery program that is being presented. Of course there is no guarantee that your loved one will stay clean and sober upon completion, but you want to know that they have the best fighting chance possible.

My client asked me where I think her son should have or should still attend for recovery and without missing a beat I told her The Salvation Army–Adult Rehabilitation Program. I worked there years ago as head counselor and respect their program immensely. Though they have a Christian based thread running through their program, it is more spiritual than religious. The best part of the Salvation Army is that it is a structured, work, counseling, spiritual recovery program with dormitory style living where one’s ego is left at the door. For the first few months the resident’s are very restricted regarding outside communication and leaving the premises. Notice I said a few months and not a few weeks. I very strongly believe in at least a six month program with six months aftercare of a sober living environment so one can slowly and hopefully learn to live life on life’s terms alcohol/drug free.

There certainly aren’t any guarantees when it comes to any kind of recovery program. But make sure that both you and your loved one do as much due diligent as possible before signing a contract and forking over some hard earned cash.

If I can be of service, please visit my website or call (805) 695-0049. In addition, I invite you to explore my book Reclaim Your Life – You and the Alcoholic/Addict at, PayPal or on Amazon. In addition, my book is available as an audio on my website only.

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