Navigating the Bewildering Task of Selecting a Drug Rehab Program

Sad woman in need of rehab is comforted by her spouse.

When someone you love is addicted and you’re looking for a recovery program, it’s an intensely stressful and traumatic time. You need something right now but at the same time, you want something that will truly enable a person to stay sober afterwards. Because you’ve heard the catchphrase, “Relapse is part of recovery.” Is it really? Does it have to be? You’re not sure you believe it so you’re looking for a program that might enable your loved one (or you) to achieve lasting sobriety, if humanly possible.

To help you make the right choice here’s a checklist of points to check before you make your selection.

  • Ask yourself: What should completion of a rehab program accomplish? You might expect lasting sobriety as a natural result of rehab, but be forewarned—some programs consider that finishing a 28-day-program as their measure of success. Look for someone who agrees with you and structures their program with an expectation of lasting sobriety.
  • Speaking of 28-day programs, look for one that sends a person home when he has achieved confidence in his (or her) ability to stay sober and not before. The mental and emotional changes should include the person accepting a higher level or responsibility for himself, his family, community, past and future. It’s critically important that an individual feel more capable of resisting common triggers such as other people drinking or using drugs, old drug-using friends or drug dealers and other reminders of the past. We’re talking about actual stronger personal abilities here, not having been shown how they should think in a lecture or a presentation.
Woman can’t deal with her cravings and goes back to drinking.
  • It’s vitally important to find out if the program actually teaches the recovering person to rely on his own abilities to create a new sober life, or is he expected to rely on a drug-based solution? Thousands of rehab programs offer methadone or the newer drug in the toolbox, buprenorphine, usually sold as Suboxone. These are addictive opioids and maintain a person in the state of addiction—just a medically prescribed and legal one. These medications can be useful in the short term to help a person normalize his lifestyle and gain admittance to a rehab program but beyond that, they impose the depressant effects of an opioid on a person’s spirit, mind and body, every hour of every day.
  • Other rehab programs prescribe an extended period of benzodiazepines like Xanax or Valium or antidepressants, all of which are addictive. The truth is that if the drugs a person was abusing are removed from the scene, many confused and upset people will recover a good measure of mental health and won’t then need drugs like these. An individual should be given the chance to achieve a fully drug-free life whenever it is possible.
  • How are cravings addressed? It’s been discovered that through improved health, thorough detoxification and nutritional support, physical cravings can be reduced or even eliminated. Cravings are perhaps the most intense, ruinous barrier to recovery. With no improvement in this area, many people struggle from hour to hour and day to day, just to resist their cravings and stay sober.
  • Are there life skills taught on the program you are considering? To prevent relapse, increased abilities to deal with life’s challenges, to cope with one’s own emotions and disappointments and to overcome impediments in the way of one’s goals are vital.
Couple walking in surf.

This is a brief examination of the qualities needed for a rehab program to provide the lifelong sobriety you seek for yourself or a loved one. Learn how the Narconon program satisfies all these factors and many more in a residential, holistic approach to recovery. Read Narconon reviews shared by families and graduates of the Narconon program.

Call 1-888-477-5527 today to discover the story of Narconon, a drug-free program that has enabled tens of thousands to return to lasting sobriety.


Karen Hadley

For more than a decade, Karen has been researching and writing about drug trafficking, drug abuse, addiction and recovery. She has also studied and written about policy issues related to drug treatment.