Getting someone to go to rehab isn’t easy. There is a very small window of time (hours even) when an adult person is willing to go—unless they’re pressured by their employer or the legal system to avoid further calamity.

If you are in a position to help research and find a rehab, such as a parent for a child, or if your loved one will be going to a rehab, here are some of the questions you might wish to ask, along with a few thoughts for consideration:

  1. Does the rehab require the person to be clean from drugs and/or alcohol before attending? Typically a detoxification center is needed first prior to being admitted to a rehab. Some rehabs offer both.
  2. Should out-of-state rehabs be considered and why? In my son’s situation, there weren’t many local options. In addition, I was afraid my son would run away from the rehab and back to his addicted friends. I wanted him to go out of town to reduce those odds. While this was helpful at first, if they are determined to use alcohol or drugs again, they will find new friends in a new place.
  3. Is there a specific population that the rehab specializes in? (teens, women, co-occurring disorders, etc.?) Focus on those that best fit the needs of your loved one.
  4. Is treatment based solely on the 12-steps? There is no one remedy for addiction that suits everyone. Being forced into a 12-step program doesn’t work for everyone. On the other hand, many find that it does work—even if they dismissed it previously.
  5. Do they believe in alternate therapies? (acupuncture, outdoor activities, yoga, equestrian therapy) These can be very helpful. Having alternative modalities help heal the body and mind in different ways than abstinence alone.
  6. Do they believe in MAT? (Medically Assisted Treatment: Methadone, Vivitrol, Suboxone) When my son went, they only allowed Suboxone for a very short time. The belief at the time was that it was another addiction. This thinking has changed, and now MAT is keeping addicts alive with the ability to live a normal life. This should be a personal decision on a case-by-case basis, but it should be an option.
  7. What is the time frame and cost for treatment? Longer is better. A minimum of 6-12 months is preferred; however, many insurance plans only provide inpatient stays of 28 days. Ask them if they’ll work with you to reduce the costs of a longer stay, if possible. Many of them will.

While you might think that finding the right place will increase the odds for success, don’t get too hung up on finding a flawless one. I’m not sure it exists. Oftentimes, it’s a special person that your loved one connects and bonds with that makes all the difference in their recovery – and it’s impossible to predict that beforehand. The seemingly perfect or less-than-perfect place might result in the same outcome. 

Relapse is an all-too-common occurrence. Some people get sober the first time, but that’s very rare. Don’t be surprised when and if relapse occurs. Rehab is not the magic cure-all that people might think.

If you are the loved one, work on your own issues in the meantime and be prepared to handle a relapse should it occur. If you want them to work on themselves, you must do the same. Otherwise, it’s no different than them going back to their old friends and their old patterns—you are one of the old patterns. The old dance needs to change.

Begin to draw on your own power to reclaim your life. Attend an Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meeting, talk with a therapist or clergy member, begin a yoga or meditation practice. The changes you make will dramatically affect your outlook on life and remind you that you can be happy again. You deserve that, and so does your loved one.


Cyndee Rae Lutz