Choosing a Rehab Facility: What to Consider and What to Look For

If you are considering seeking treatment for drug or alcohol addiction but aren’t sure how to choose a rehab facility, you aren’t alone. Many people aren’t sure what to look for, and it’s not an easy decision. There are many factors to consider when choosing a rehab facility.

In this article:

What to Look for in a Rehab

It takes a lot of courage to make the initial decision to attend drug or alcohol rehab. Then, you are faced with another big decision: which rehab to attend.

If you are unsure what to look for when choosing a rehab facility, start by looking at the treatment centers near you or in your desired area and comparing certain qualities and characteristics, such as:2,3,4

  • Accreditations: Check which, if any, accreditations the facility holds. One trusted accreditation to look for is The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), a worldwide non-profit accreditation company that accredits facilities based on specific standards and criteria.
  • Credentials: Compare the credentials of the individual providers at the rehab facilities you’re considering. Most rehabs will have a combination of medical doctors, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, social workers, and addiction counselors.
  • High staff-to-patient ratio: Choose a drug rehab with a high staff-to-patient ratio over one with a low staff-to-patient ratio. The more staff they have available, the more individualized care and attention you’ll likely receive.
  • Individualized treatment plan: There is no one-size-fits-all approach to addiction treatment. What is successful for one person, may not be successful for another. Choose a rehab facility that will provide you with an individualized treatment plan catered to your unique needs.
  • Expertise: When choosing a rehab facility, be sure to choose a drug rehab that is experienced with treating your specific addiction and any co-occurring mental health disorders you may have. For example, you wouldn’t want to attend a rehab facility that specializes in treating opioid addictions if you have a cocaine addiction. If you have a co-occurring mental health disorder like anxiety or depression, you may want to consider choosing a rehab facility that specializes in these conditions as well, or at the very least, has experience in treating them.
  • Aftercare planning: For many people leaving rehab, relapse is a common experience. It is important to choose a facility that provides aftercare planning and support to reduce the risk of relapse. Ongoing support may include sober living homes, 12-Step meetings, individual therapy, group counseling, and more.

Factors to Consider when Choosing a Rehab Facility

After exploring the initial qualities and characteristics of potential treatment programs, you can start to narrow down your search. There are still other factors to consider to help you choose the best rehab program for your unique needs.

Levels of Care

When choosing a rehab facility, you’ll need to consider which level of care is most appropriate for you. There are a few different levels of care for substance addictions, each varying in treatment intensity and duration. These include:4,5,6

  • Outpatient treatment: This is the least intensive level of care and involves attending sessions (sometimes telehealth is an alternative option) with your treatment team for counseling, psychotherapy, and medication-assisted treatment.
  • Intensive outpatient or partial hospitalization: These programs provide a higher level of care while still allowing you to reside at home. You will attend outpatient therapy sessions or go to the hospital for a specific duration of time, usually around four to five hours a day, five days a week.
  • Inpatient rehab: Inpatient rehab programs involve living at the facility 24 hours a day for a designated period—ranging from 3090 days on average—but some programs may last six months, one year, or longer. Inpatient rehabs can be high or low intensity depending on the treatment center and patient need. You’ll receive a myriad of modalities like individual, group, and family therapy, as well as support group meetings, drug education, and beyond.

Generally, outpatient rehab programs are best suited for those with milder drug addictions who wish to reside at home throughout the treatment process or need to continue to work, attend school, or fulfill other obligations outside of rehab.

Inpatient treatment may be best suited for those with more severe addictions who would benefit from being immersed in the recovery environment away from the stressors and triggers of the outside world.

Treatment Modalities

The next factor to consider when choosing the right rehab for you is the treatment modalities the facility offers. There are a variety of treatment modalities available to treat a substance use disorder, including:2,5

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): The goal of CBT is to recognize unhelpful thinking patterns that lead to drinking, reframe those thoughts, and develop healthy alternative coping skills. CBT is usually conducted one-on-one with your therapist but may also be done in small groups as well.
  • Brief interventions: These are short one-on-one or group therapy sessions where the counselor gives you information about the risks of substance misuse and works with you to set goals to change patterns of substance use. Treatment is usually completed in just one to four sessions.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy (MET): MET is another short-term treatment with the goal of enhancing motivation to stop drinking or using drugs. Your therapist will help you identify the pros and cons of addiction treatment, form a plan to change your behaviors, build confidence in your ability to follow through, and develop the coping skills needed for you to succeed.
  • Group counseling: Most rehab programs will have some form of group counseling available, including interpersonal process groups. Group therapy can be helpful by offering you the added benefit of peer support from people who understand what you are going through. These groups may also focus on specific topics related to recovery.
  • Marriage or family counseling: Marriage or family counseling helps you address any marital or family problems that may be contributing to your drug or alcohol misuse. It also helps your spouse or family members to provide you support throughout the recovery process.
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT): The Food and Drug Administration has approved several medications for the treatment of opioid addiction or alcohol use disorder. Many treatment facilities will offer MAT, which is a combination of an addiction treatment medication and counseling, to provide comprehensive care.

Treatment Approaches

Another thing to consider when choosing a rehab facility is the treatment approach the program uses.
Some facilities may just offer a behavioral and medical approach involving the treatment modalities previously mentioned.

Others may provide a holistic approach to treatment that encompasses all aspects of the human experience: mind, body, and spirit. Holistic treatment approaches usually include services like:

  • Yoga
  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Massage and spa treatments
  • Spiritual or faith-based services
  • Nutritional counseling

Meanwhile, other rehabs may take a more spiritual or faith-based approach, integrating religious studies and groups into treatment. When comparing rehabs, you’ll want to find one that aligns with your beliefs and interests.

Treatment Specialties

When it comes to drug and alcohol rehabs, there are many different treatment specialties, especially those that cater to certain demographics. Some common treatment specialties available include:

  • Gender-specific: These programs are exclusively for men or women and will cater to their unique needs. There may also be programs that provide a safe space for transgender and gender-nonconforming patients.
  • Veterans: These programs are exclusively for veterans struggling with addiction and cater to the unique needs that veterans may face after serving in the military, such as trauma or re-integrating into the community.
  • LGBTQ: These rehab facilities cater to those in the LGBTQ community and may provide counselings and services to help with needs specific to this population, such as internalized homophobia.
  • Pregnant people or parents with young children: Some treatment centers cater to pregnant people or parents of young children who may need to continue to parent throughout the treatment process. These facilities may allow the children to reside with the parent and provide prenatal care, daycare options, and other related services.

Amenities and Features

Another factor to consider when choosing a rehab facility is the amenities and features offered. Each facility offers different services and amenities, such as:

  • Exercise facilities
  • Yoga and meditation
  • Expressive arts therapies
  • Equine therapies
  • Gourmet meals
  • Private rooms
  • Luxury services
  • Beautiful views
  • Massage and spa services
  • Pool access


Location is another crucial factor to consider when choosing a rehab facility. Consider if you need the treatment center close to your home or if you’re okay with traveling to the facility. If the rehab center allows visitors and/or offers family therapy, you may want to remain close to home so that your loved ones can be involved in treatment.

On the other hand, you may be drawn to a specific facility due to the fact that it’s in a different setting than your drinking or substance-using environment. Perhaps you want to attend rehab in the mountains or at the beach for a calm, serene experience.

Treatment Cost and Insurance Coverage

Addiction treatment can be expensive. It is important to choose a drug rehab that is affordable for you. Compare the costs of the treatment centers you are considering and ask yourself some questions, such as:

  • Does my insurance provide coverage for this facility? And to what extent?
  • Is this within my budget?
  • Do they offer payment plans or sliding scale fees?

How to Find a Drug or Alcohol Rehab

If you need assistance choosing the right rehab program for you, call 866-968-5444Who Answers? to speak with an addiction treatment support specialist today about your treatment options. We are happy to help you take this important step toward a positive change in your life.


  1. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (June 2021). Alcohol Facts and Statistics.
  2. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (August 2021). Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help.
  3. CARF International.
  4. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. What Types of Alcohol Treatment are Available?
  5. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (August 2021). Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) Treatment.
  6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2006). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 45. HHS Publication No. (SMA).
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