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How to Choose the Right Rehab Treatment Provider for You

Elena Hill, MD, MPH profile image
Medically Reviewed By Elena Hill, MD, MPH • Updated Oct 10, 2022 • 8 cited sources

Rehabilitation treatment programs should provide a personalized experience. Each program is different in terms of their structure, requirements, and resources that are available. Some programs may be an ideal fit while others may not work for you and your specific recovery needs.

For example, if you are struggling with heroin use and depression, you may prefer a program that also has providers experienced in treating mental health conditions in addition to substance use disorders. [1] If you have unstable housing, you may prefer an inpatient facility that can house you while you get connected to housing resources in order to maintain abstinence long term.

Rehab experience will vary based on factors like these:[2]

  • How long you plan to stay
  • The amount your insurance will cover
  • How much you can afford to spend out of pocket
  • Whether or not you’re willing to travel to the program
  • The amenities you seek
  • The areas of specialty offered by the providers
  • Your goals for recovery

Things to Consider When Choosing a Treatment Provider 

When it’s time to look through available treatment providers, it’s important to keep track of the details as you determine which option is best for you and your family.

Make a list of all the options that sound interesting to you and then take notes on the following details as you seek out the right fit:

Level of Care

Depending on where you are in your journey to recovery from substance use disorder (SUD), different levels of care may be more or less appropriate.[3]  You can choose from the following:

  • Evening or weekend care: Sessions a few times a week or on weekends define many people’s treatment program, as they begin the transition back into a life that is defined by living at home and going to work every day. While they may not be ready to leave treatment behind completely, they can deal with the stressors that come up in their new life with the support of trained therapists, addiction treatment professionals, and a community of people in recovery with them.
  • Day treatment: For those who have a safe supportive home to live in but still require a more intensive focus on treatment and recovery, day treatment services are a strong option. Rather than going to work from 9 to 5 each day, they instead attend a schedule of therapeutic interventions during the day with evenings and weekends to spend at home, starting a part-time job, or volunteering.
  • Short-term inpatient care: In some cases, living in the rehab facility is the ideal approach. This is especially true for people who do not have a safe and supportive place to live that will allow them to buffer themselves from people who drink and use drugs. The round-the-clock support in an inpatient short-term rehabilitation program will generally last for 30 days with an option to extend if needed and/ or an expected transition into a day treatment program or sober living establishment.
  • Long-term inpatient care: In some cases, it may be clear from the start that more than 30 days of inpatient care is needed. In these cases, a long-term inpatient treatment option that lasts three months, six months, or longer may be available to provide ongoing treatment and support. The care provided can evolve as needed.
  • Sober living communities: For those who are ready to step away from intensive treatment but prefer to continue living in a safe sober space, a sober living community is a good solution. They can begin to live a life where they connect with a case manager or therapist on a weekly basis in addition to attending some 12-step meetings.


Your goals for your treatment experience and your life matter and play a huge role in determining what type of rehab treatment program is right for you. Your goals might include:

  • Treatment styles for addiction: You may wish to experience specific treatment options, medication regimens, or holistic care to help you manage the issues associated with withdrawal, detox, and long-term recovery. Conversely, there may be treatment styles that you wish to avoid based on your past experience.
  • Treatment for mental health issues and SUD: If you are living with symptoms of mental health issues like depression and anxiety, like 9.2 million other Americans, you may require treatment for these issues along with the treatment for SUD.[4] Because one disorder cannot be disentangled from the other, it is imperative that the treatment program you choose employ the professionals who can help you address both issues proactively.
  • Connection with community: Developing a community of peers who understand where you’ve been and want to join you in your journey toward stability can help you stay committed to recovery. For that reason, the population that the rehab program caters to may be important to you as it may help you to facilitate relationships that can last a lifetime.
  • Learning coping skills: Long-lasting recovery is more than just not using drugs or alcohol. It means building a life that feels stable, joyful, healthy, and purposeful. This takes learning coping skills that will guide you through the toughest of times, and the right drug rehab program can help you to develop these if it is comprehensive enough.


Every rehab program prioritizes a focus, type of treatment, or specialty as their primary mode of care or philosophy of treatment. In some cases, that specialty may be something that you are unfamiliar with personally but are open to — something that resonates with you on every level. It may also be something that does not fit with your perspective, culture, or experience.

Here are some specialties that may be valuable to you in your rehab program:

  • Religious affiliation: Many rehabilitation programs are free from religious dogma or structure, but some ground their philosophy on the tenets of a specific religion. You may not need to necessarily adhere to that religion in order to find value in a religious-based program, but it’s a good idea to be familiar with how that religious focus may impact some of the therapies and support you will receive.
  • Gender or sexual identity: Some rehab programs work hard to create a safe space for those who identify outside of the hetero or CIS gender norm. While almost all rehab programs will have space for all genders and sexual identities, there are some who cater to this population specifically.
  • Dual diagnosis: When a mental health disorder co-occurs with SUD, it is essential that both disorders be addressed in treatment. Some programs specialize in the treatment of dual diagnosis disorders and have a particular emphasis on treatment of mental health disorders.
  • Age-based care: Some programs cater specifically to younger individuals or teens who are struggling with a substance use disorder.
  • Gender-based treatment: In an effort to avoid the development of romantic relationships that can be distracting during rehabilitation, some rehab programs offer gender-specific programs or lodging for inpatient programs.


Most rehab programs focus primarily on the services that have been proven to be most effective in the treatment of addiction disorders without a lot of frills. Because SUD treatment is very expensive, most patients appreciate the focus on what is important rather than on bells and whistles that do little to move treatment forward. However, if you do have the financial resources to pay out of pocket, some facilities offer:

  • Single rooms: In most rehab programs where inpatient care is offered, patients are housed two or three to a room, in quads with shared bathing and living space, or in dormitories. In more upscale rehabs, single rooms are available.
  • High-end dining: Similar to the living situation, dining can be highly variable across inpatient rehab programs. Some programs may offer nutrition services and more upscale dining services, particularly for clients who are particularly concerned about healthy eating during recovery and a diet that contributes to their overall wellness.
  • Medical care: Most rehabilitation centers provide little to no medical care. There is the ability to be administered medication when needed and get treatment for basic illnesses or injuries, but when it comes to the detox phase of substance dependence, where withdrawal symptoms can be intense, or extreme chronic illness, most rehab facilities rely on outside support. Some do provide medical care on site, including but not limited to detox support and maintenance.
  • Personal trainers or a fitness focus: Physical health is always important once the patient is past the detox phase, and exercise is encouraged. However, in some rehab centers, there is a heavier focus on workout regimens, personal training, and rigorous exercise as a part of the treatment process.
  • Horseback riding and other outdoor amenities: Some rural rehab centers have land and barns to house horses and offer horseback riding and similar amenities to patients. Depending on the surrounding land and landscape, some rehab programs will offer kayaking, skiing, yachting, backpacking, and other outdoor entertainment options.
  • Experiential and holistic therapies: Personal therapy, group therapy, and 12-step meetings are the centerpiece of most rehab programs, but some rehabs will offer a handful of experiential therapies as well. These can include any combination of treatments like aromatherapy, acupuncture, dance therapy, exposure therapy, EMDR, animal-assisted therapies, and other treatments that speak to the specialties of the professionals employed there and the philosophy of the program.


Many people will choose a drug rehab program that is close to home, especially if they have loved ones nearby who are supporting their recovery. By staying close to the familiar, they are better able to include their families in their recoveries, whether they choose an inpatient or outpatient rehab program, but they may also be at greater risk of relapse because they can easily reach out to old connections and friends who are still actively using.

Others prefer to choose a rehab program that is out of town. This may provide them with a buffer between them and their usual stomping grounds, tough situations at home, and situational memories, allowing them to avoid old triggers.

Length of Stay

Almost every rehabilitation program has a recommended length of stay. In general, the longer someone stays in treatment, the better the outcome. Longer times in treatment generally have been associated with higher rates of sustained abstinence [3] But if cost or other responsibilities, such as the need to return to work or home life, requires that you spend a limited time in treatment, it may be a reason to opt for a shorter or more condensed program.


Drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs are expensive. Depending on your insurance coverage, rehab may be covered in part, fully, or not at all. If insurance is covering the bill, they often have specific limitations about which programs and what type of programs they cover. The first thing to do is reach out to see what type of program and what specific programs are covered in your area.


For those who have no insurance coverage of rehab, the cost of treatment is most certainly a determining factor. In these cases, there are some rehabs that will immediately be out of reach due to cost, but others that may be accessible if there is access to state or federal funding like Medicare or Medicaid.

Never assume that a rehab option is out of reach based on cost if you don’t have insurance. Instead, reach out, ask questions, and find out what other avenues of financial support or scholarships are available.


In the post-COVID world, access to medical care can be limited. This is due in part to the fact that many people refrained from seeking treatment for SUD during COVID and then flooded rehab facilities afterward.[6] Many people developed or worsened their issues with SUD during the pandemic, and many medical professionals got burned out during COVID and left practice.

This is a situation that will hopefully even-out over time, but in the meantime, it can mean long waitlists for access to a bed at a rehab facility. The more proactive you are about getting on a waitlist if there is one, the sooner you can get plugged into care.

Questions to Ask Rehab Treatment Providers 

Not all of the following questions will be important to everyone, but it is a good idea to highlight the ones that speak to your needs in order to make sure that you get the answers you need up front:

  • What types of treatment do you offer, such as inpatient, outpatient, day treatment, intermediary support, or sober housing?
  • Do you offer detox services or post-detox medical care and support? 
  • Do you have medical staff on site in the event that I have a medical or mental health concern?
  • Do you have the ability to treat co-occurring mental health issues?
  • Do you offer different tiers of support so I can transition from one level of care to the next without gaps in treatment? 
  • Do you offer family support or services in the form of childcare if I have children? Do you offer family therapy if my loved ones want to work on rebuilding relationships during my treatment?
  • Am I allowed to be on maintenance medications, such as methadone or Suboxone, during treatment? 
  • Does the program espouse a specific religious or political philosophy or affiliation?
  • Is your program supportive and understanding of the needs of the LGBTQ+ community?
  • Are there facilities for teens or young adults that are separate from older adults? 
  • Is it possible to maintain my current employment during the rehab process? 
  • What therapies are included for everyone, and which ones are optional? How is it determined what therapies are included in an individual’s treatment plan? 
  • Is it possible to update or change treatment plans or levels of intervention if the original one is not working? 
  • What support do you offer during the transition out of treatment? 
  • Do you work with my insurance company?

How to Find a Treatment Team That Meets My Needs

It’s important to find a treatment team that you feel good about. Take your time during the decision-making process and ask as many questions as possible. Ask your loved ones to weigh in on which they feel would be a good fit. 

Oftentimes, your primary care physician or another member of your treatment team may be able to recommend a reputable SUD treatment facility. With so many options available today, including telehealth services, you’ll be able to find the treatment provider that works best for you. [7]

Medically Reviewed By Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where ... Read More

  1. Bidirectional Relationship Between Heroin Addiction and Depression: Behavioural and Neural Studies. Current Psychology. August 2020. Accessed August 2022.
  2. Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide. National Institute on Drug Abuse. 
  3. Accessed August 2022.
  4. Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)
    Types of Treatment Programs. National Institute on Drug Abuse. July 2018. Accessed August 2022.
  5. Co-Occurring Disorders and Other Health Conditions. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. April 2022. Accessed August 2022.
  6. 12-Step Interventions and Mutual Support Programs for Substance Use Disorders: An Overview. Social Work in Public Health. August 2013. Accessed August 2022.
  7. COVID-19 Pandemic Curtailed Young Adults’ Access to Addiction Treatment. Johns Hopkins Medicine. June 2022. Accessed August 2022.
  8. Use of Telemedicine in Addiction Treatment: Current Practices and Organizational Implementation Characteristics. International Journal of Telemedicine and Applications. March 2018. Accessed August 2022.

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