Finding Treatment for Alcohol and Drug Addiction

It can be hard to find the right place to get professional treatment. Here are some important things to consider:

  • There are different types of treatment to choose from.

  • Some programs are live-in (residential) while others are not (outpatient). Sometimes a combination is offered.

  • No single type of program is right for everyone.

  • Most treatment programs involve a combination of education, counseling, and a 12-step, spiritually-based approach.

  • There are non-spiritually based programs (not 12-step).

  • Some treatment programs are government sponsored. They are geared for patients without private insurance.

  • Treatment programs can vary in many respects such as:

  • Cost and types of insurance accepted.

  • Types of on-site medical services offered.

  • Length of stay, setting, and size.

  • Overall philosophy of treatment. 

A person may need specialized treatment or have needs not addressed by all programs. For example, adolescents need treatment appropriate for their age. Other people have secondary disorders that must be managed as well. Secondary conditions can include mental illness, such as depression or diabetes. Often, a period of detoxification from alcohol or drugs is needed. This requires medical supervision and not all programs offer this.


  • Is the program certified by the appropriate government agency? Even private programs must be certified and employ certified professionals.

  • Does the program accept your insurance? If not, can a payment plan be set up?

  • Is the facility clean, organized, and well run? Do they allow you to speak with graduates who can share their treatment experience with you? Can you tour the facility? Can you meet with staff?

  • Does the program meet the full range of individual needs?

  • Does the treatment program address sexual orientation and physical disabilities? Do they provide age, gender, and culturally appropriate treatment services?

  • Is treatment available in languages other than English?

  • Is long-term aftercare support or guidance encouraged and provided?

  • Is assessment of an individual's treatment plan ongoing to ensure it meets changing needs?

  • Does the program use strategies to encourage reluctant patients to remain in treatment long enough to increase the likelihood of success?

  • Does the program offer counseling (individual or group) and other behavioral therapies?

  • Does the program offer medicine as part of the treatment regimen, if needed?

  • Is there ongoing monitoring of possible relapse? Is there a defined relapse prevention program? Are services or referrals offered to family members to ensure they understand addiction and the recovery process? This would help them support the recovering individual.

  • Are 12-step meetings held at the center or is transport available for patients to attend outside meetings?

In countries outside of the U.S. and Canada, see local directories for contact information for services in your area.