Detox Local

Finding A Trustworthy Detox Program

Medically Reviewed By: Benjamin Caleb Williams RN, BA, CEN

Written By: Phillippe Greenough

Article Updated: 10/05/2020

What should someone look for when seeking a detox center? This is a very important question and a failure to do research beforehand could cause a trip to detox to be a waste of time, money, and energy. Here we will discuss what things may inspire confidence in the professionalism and effectiveness of a given detox facility and how to identify these markers.

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What Should I Look For First?

Short answer: accreditation and certification. While these may not necessarily mean that the facility is amazing, it is a very good sign for a detox center to hold some form of accreditation. These seals of approval cost time, money, and a great deal of effort on the part of the detox center which means they are making a serious investment in their clients by seeking certifications.

Many of these accrediting bodies are non-profit organizations whose goal is to promote best practices and raise standards in the healthcare sector. While they may be helmed by professionals who have a career in the addiction treatment field, these organizations live and die by their word. It is critical for their continued survival and profitability that their seal of approval carries great weight.

The way many of them achieve this is not only through requiring a detox facility to meet stringent guidelines for quality of care but they also routinely interview detox centers that have already been approved. The goal of consulting is to stay on the cutting edge of addiction treatment techniques and to promote the most effective therapies, medications, and practices.

In the end, certification or accreditation should be a very encouraging sign for someone seeking a reliable and professional detox center.

What Certifications Should A Drug Detox Program Have?

While any medical or behavioral health facility only needs to be licensed by the Department of Public Health in the state they operate, there are several different non-government entities whose accreditations carry great weight. These accreditation programs act as a seal of approval by the accrediting body and indicate the performance of a facility in a variety of areas. The standards required to achieve accreditation are often higher than the minimum standards needed to become licensed by a state or federal government licensing agency. These can include transparency, safety, treatment effectiveness, and provide access to funding or referral programs to partner facilities who have likewise received accreditation.

Since there is often a high level of medical risk while someone undergoes drug detox, these accreditations may help to put someone’s mind at ease. Any medical detox center will typically have accreditation from at least one of the major accrediting bodies in the country.

Some of the major accreditation organizations both in the US and internationally include:

CARF (Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities): CARF is a non-profit organization specifically aimed at drug and alcohol detoxification and rehabilitation facilities. This accreditation program can ensure a facility meets treatment program requirements, safety practices, and facilities with CARF accreditation may have lower insurance premiums for admission.

Joint Commission (formerly JCAHO): A non-profit organization that provides accreditation inspections for a variety of healthcare facilities in the US and around the world. Joint Commission accreditation can indicate effective safety and treatment practices, as well as lowering insurance copay costs for patients.

HFAP (Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program): A non-profit healthcare accreditation organization, an HFAP accreditation is a sign of compliance with regulatory and quality of care standards. They offer 3-year accreditations in a variety of fields, including Behavioral/Mental Health for addiction treatment and recovery.

NAATP (National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers): NAATP is a nonprofit organization whose membership is made up of recovery sector professionals. The goal of NAATP is to foster best practices in addiction treatment and to lobby for legal reform on behalf of the industry.

NCQA (National Committee for Quality Assurance): This is a non-profit which promotes best practices not only in healthcare facilities, but also across health insurance providers, and advocates improvement in government healthcare policy. They also work to verify and certify healthcare providers and coordinate care between disparate healthcare provider groups.

LegitScript: This is a private company that is primarily in the business of validating recovery centers that have an internet presence and provide a clinical treatment setting. They also verify online advertisements or websites which offer treatment services or crisis phone lines.

Most of these accrediting bodies offer a database that is accessible to all for looking up certified and accredited providers. Someone need not look around at every detox to see who is accredited. Several of these providers have search tools which can find certified detox centers by zip code, city, or state. These are often reachable within a click or two of the home page; all of which are linked above.

One more resource to use is not technically a healthcare accreditation, but rather a business accreditation. As detox programs are businesses at the end of the day, their business reliability rating can be indicative of their morals and ethics regarding detox and treatment.

BBB (Better Business Bureau): The BBB is over 100 years old and focuses on promoting trust between merchants and consumers. They have a review, accreditation, and complaint services on their website where anyone can interact with their certification process directly. This can take the form of requesting accreditation, writing a review of a business, or filing a complaint against a potentially untrustworthy business. They also provide a business search tool that can be used to look up the rating or score of any registered business.

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The Benefits Of An Accredited Detox

Receiving accreditation from a non-government organization can provide some direct and immediate benefits other than peace of mind. Holding a seal of approval from a private certification organization can lower insurance copay costs for individuals seeking treatment, so in that sense, there is a direct and immediate benefit in seeking a facility that holds an accreditation. Additionally, requirements for private accreditation are higher than the bare minimum standards to simply obtain a license as a detox center, so the quality of care will often be higher.

These cost reductions may be minimal, but with detox being an expensive investment, every little bit counts. Additionally, if someone were to be court-ordered to attend a detox or rehab, they may need to enter a certified facility. These are most often certified by a government agency, and this process is much less intensive than a private accreditation.

What About Non-Accredited Detox Centers?

Just because a detox center does not hold an accreditation does not mean they do not provide quality care. Take, for example, the government-funded detox programs that are commonly offered for free or on a sliding scale payment plan. These programs rarely if ever have these types of accreditations or certifications. The reason for this is that companies must pay fees to gain and retain accreditation, and government funds are intended and directed to serve the people in need of treatment.

If a detox center is receiving government subsidies or is a non-profit detox center, they simply may not have the funds or personnel to apply and gain a private accreditation. Likewise, stipulations in the contract for receipt of government-assistance funds may forbid a detox center from spending these funds on matters that do not directly relate to addiction treatment. This would essentially prohibit them from using what meager additional funding they do receive for the purpose of accreditation.

What About Reviews?

The reviews of a detox facility should be a fairly accurate indicator of their professionalism and commitment to care. Google, Yelp, and even Facebook reviews can be both informative and encouraging to anyone searching for a detox program. These may be left by former clients and can paint a very detailed picture of the staff, routine, and therapies that a certain center provides.

One thing to keep in mind while looking at reviews; it’s common that a detox center is going to have a few bad reviews, as there are sometimes people brought there against their will. These can sometimes read like a horror novel and are far-fetched or outlandish. Do not be discouraged; a few of these are par for the course as far as a drug or alcohol detox center is concerned. Even the best detox in the world will rack up a few wild reviews simply based on the nature of the illness they are attempting to treat.

What To Avoid & Possible Red Flags

While there are many legitimate detox centers, the amount of money that detox costs has introduced illegitimate detoxes onto the scene as well. These may be uncommon, but there are predatory practices occurring in the addiction treatment field so someone should be vigilant when looking for a detox program. A few red flags which may be immediately apparent include:

  • No phone number listed, or an out of state area code for a “local” detox
  • No address listed
  • If a detox attempts to collect payment before an in-person evaluation has been done
  • If a detox accepts someone before doing an evaluation or assessment first
  • They do not have trained medical professionals on-site
  • No detox program details are listed, or they only list “alternative treatments”
  • Claims of unrealistic detox treatment success or guarantees of lasting sobriety

Where To Start

Do your research, ask questions, take a tour of the facility, and ask for credentials about the medical professionals who work at the detox. You are your own best advocate and champion, and the more vigilant you are, the better the chances of getting the treatment you may need. Recovery is possible but it’s going to require willingness, work, and some discomfort at first. It will get better and life after addiction is possible, but nobody can do this alone. Pick up the phone or start a detox center search right now down below.

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