By: Anne M. Herron, M.S., Acting Director, SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Treatment
It can be overwhelming and confusing to know where to start if you need to find treatment for an alcohol or drug addiction. Addiction touches nearly everyone in some way, yet, like all health care, effective treatment must be tailored to the needs of the individual. With many addiction treatment options, finding a program that will provide the quality care you or your loved one needs to address the specific addiction issues can be challenging. These steps will help you know what to look for to find a treatment program that is high quality and tailored to your needs.
How do you Find a Treatment Provider?
If you have insurance, a good first step is to contact your insurer. Ask about your coverage and whether they have a network of preferred providers. If you don’t have insurance, you still have access to quality care. Each state has funding to provide treatment for people without insurance coverage.
What Should You Look for in a Program or Provider?
Quality treatment programs offer a full range of services which have been shown to be effective in treatment and recovery from addiction. Keep these points in mind when weighing your options.
- Accreditation: Make sure the treatment program is licensed or certified by the state. This ensures the provider meets basic quality and safety requirements. You should also check that the program is accredited, which means it meets standards of care set by a national, compliance organization. Be sure to ask the program to show you how people using their services have rated them.
- Evidence-Based Treatment: Check to determine if the program offers effective and proven substance use disorder treatments, such as medication management, cognitive behavioral therapy, drug and alcohol counseling, education about the risks of drug and alcohol use, and peer support. Quality treatment providers or programs offer more than one form of effective treatment. Effective programs will also be mindful of or address mental health and physical disorders that will affect substance use treatment.
- Medication: Confirm whether the program offers FDA approved medication for recovery from alcohol and opioid use disorders. However, keep in mind that currently, there are no FDA approved medications to help prevent relapse from other problem substances.
- Families: Family members have an important role in understanding the impact of addiction on families and providing support. Make sure the treatment program includes family members in the treatment process.
- Continuing Care: For many people addiction requires ongoing medication and supports. Quality programs provide treatment for the long term, which may include ongoing counseling or recovery coaching and support, and helps in meeting other basic needs like sober housing, employment supports, and continued family involvement.
Once you’ve identified a treatment program that meets the criteria above, call for an appointment. Many programs provide walk-in services. If they can’t see you or a family member within 48 hours, find another provider. (It is important that the provider or program connect you to care quickly).
You can find more information about finding addiction treatment by visiting: or calling the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).