Choosing a treatment program is no easy task.  Often loved ones of those with substance abuse problems are the ones doing the research and it can be almost impossible without assistance to navigate these waters.  Doing a simple goggle search brings up countless websites that are not of actual programs but are instead paid directories of treatment programs.  Often these are very expensive and out of the immediate area.  (Here is an industry secret:  Most of these directories are owned by treatment programs and are disguised as directories but you will notice some programs seem to stand out on them.  Often that program owns the site.) It seems like finding a program that is actually in your area can be surprisingly difficult!

Even local searches can sometimes yield strange results.  For example, the last time we checked, True North shows up on the third or fourth page for most search queries related to finding a rehab on google places.  Google Places is supposed to yield only results that are nearby but even this service struggles to help us find the way.  What makes this even more difficult is that many of the programs listed are not even in the San diego area, let alone North County.  This is the same on several other “locally” driven searches.

So with the internet being such a difficult place to manage, how then can one find a a good program in their area?

Below is a list of other ways to find a program that is a fit for you or your loved one:

1. Look up a psychiatrist that is Board Certified in Addiction Medicine (other physicians are very hit or miss and usually have little to no expertise in the area of locating decent treatment).

2.  Find therapists that specialize in addiction.  There is a caveat here.  Many therapists and clinicians of all kinds claim to treat or specialize in addictions.  Often they have an average familiarity with it and not a true expertise.  The risk here is that they may feel they can do the treatment themselves when they really cannot and they may be more likely to give referrals that are a poor fit.  Try to look for counselors or therapists that also carry a certification in chemical dependency such as a LAADC (Licensed Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor), CADC (Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor, or MAC (Master Addictions Counselor). These certifications and licenses actually offer much more quality assurance in regard to addiction specific expertise than being a Psychologist, LMFT ,or an LCSW do (this is of course a general statement.  There are many good Psychologists, LMFT’s and LCSW’s out there but this can be difficult for many to discern).

3. Call recognized treatment programs and find out who they refer to in your area.  Places like Betty Ford or Hazelden may or may not be the right fit for you, but they have a longstanding history and professional reputation to uphold so they have databases that have been constructed over many many years of quality treatment programs all over the country that they will refer to.

4.  Ask people in your area that you know are in recovery themselves.  Because most of them have either been to treatment themselves or will interact in places like AA with people who have been to treatment, they will have a good idea of the local recovery subculture.  This will include a good idea of which programs to look into, and which ones to avoid.

5.  Friends and family often have heard things somewhere about different providers in the area.  If you haven’t picked up on it yet, it is important to look at your own network of people.  Addictions are very common and someone you know will have been through one themselves or they will have people in their own families or social networks that have.  This information can be vital.

We hope this helps you in the process of locating the program that is right for you.  It can be a daunting and overwhelming process.  It can also be an expensive process that occurs during a time when people are feeling desperate and are vulnerable to snake oil salesman.