When calling or visiting a prospective drug treatment center, don’t hesitate to ask as many questions as necessary about its staff and services. A program that meets the following guidelines should inspire reasonable confidence in its caliber of care.
Inpatient programs and hospital-based outpatient programs should be approved by the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, the largest accreditation organization of its kind. To find out if a treatment center is accredited, call the JCAHO at 630-792-5000.
- The program works towards an abstinence-only policy, but does not expel teens who use drugs.
- The program includes a comprehensive evaluation by an experienced physician to diagnose and treat any associated medical, emotional or behavioral problems.
- The staff includes a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist with expertise in adolescent behavior and development and in treating substance use disorders.
- The facility maintains a low ratio of patients to staff.
- Support groups led by a professional facilitator and self-help groups are integral components of treatment.
- If the center treats both minors and adults, the adolescent unit should be separate from the adult unit.
- The program must include family therapy.
- The program must include an aftercare or planning process phase, typically consisting of outpatient counseling or attending a peer support group for at least 1 year.
- Depending on the teen’s needs, the program should include academic classes, vocational training, social-skills training, physical education and other services intended to aid his reentry into society.
- The program’s administrators should be willing to discuss financial arrangements.