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Dr. Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT

Individuals seeking addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one are presented with an almost endless array of options. And pretty much all of those options have a slick sales pitch and a great looking website with pictures of fancy lodgings and lots of super-enjoyable looking activities. It’s enough to make you wonder if addiction rehabs are just another version of Club Med.

Well, they’re not. Or they shouldn’t be, anyway.

Effective addiction treatment involves a whole lot of individual and group psychotherapy, education about addiction, and recovery-driven support. Everything else is extraneous to the purpose of rehab. Facilities that crow about things like adventure work, yoga, therapeutic massage, and guided meditations are touting luxury extras, not modes of treatment. Admittedly, many of those “therapeutic extras” can be useful adjuncts to good treatment. But they are not necessary elements.

So, when you shop for a rehab, skip over the pretty pictures and slick sales pitches and look for information about the nature of the psychotherapeutic work being done and, more importantly, who it is that’s leading that work. In other words, look for a treatment center that’s focused on treatment and run by experts.

As you’re shopping around for the best addiction rehab, we recommend that you look for and ask about the following:

  1. Complete and Accurate Assessments: To provide the best possible treatment, rehabs need to know exactly who they are dealing with and what that person’s real issues are. Otherwise, the rehab may end up treating symptoms rather than the underlying disease. For example, individuals with bipolar disorder may act out sexually during the manic phase, looking as if they are sexually addicted. However, if they only act out sexually during the manic phase of bipolar disorder, sex addiction is not the proper diagnosis. A good sex addiction facility will uncover this on assessment and then, rather than providing treatment that is unlikely to help, will refer this individual to a bipolar disorder specialist. With proper assessment, clients get the treatment they need.
  2. High-Level Professionals: Treatment centers absolutely must be led and staffed by experienced PhD and master’s level professionals. These are the clinicians best qualified to perform accurate assessments, to explore co-occurring disorders, to uncover trauma, and to guide addiction recovery. The best clinicians do the best work. Period.
  3. Trauma-Informed Treatment: All meaningful addiction treatment is trauma-informed, meaning an addict’s trauma is uncovered and acknowledged as an underlying cause of their addiction. That said, providing actual trauma treatment in the early stages of recovery is generally contraindicated, as addicts new to recovery tend to be highly dysregulated. In other words, newly recovering addicts are not stable enough to do in-depth trauma work without relapsing. Nevertheless, they benefit from knowing about the trauma they’ve experienced and how it has affected them. Once they’ve established sobriety and rebuilt their ego-strength, actual trauma work can be undertaken. Nearly always, that occurs post-rehab.
  4. Individualized Treatment Plans: Every treatment center says they provide individualized treatment. But almost none of them do. The vast majority of rehabs utilize a one-size-fits-all approach. This is the wrong approach. Good addiction treatment requires truly individual treatment plans because every addict is different, with a unique history, background, and set of life goals. The best addiction rehabs truly do assess and examine each client in-depth and tailor programming to each client’s needs.
  5. Specialization: How many treatment centers out there promise to treat every form of addiction? Most of them, that’s how many. As you’re shopping for the right rehab, skip those centers and focus on facilities that specialize. Effective addiction treatment is about doing the best possible work in one area of expertise. The best addiction treatment centers do what they do and they do it extremely well. If an addict needs treatment for an issue that’s not their specialty, they refer that addict to another facility. Every type of addiction is slightly unique, and treatment must be tailored – by experts in that specific addiction – to create the most effective programming for each individual.

At the end of the day, great clinical work arises out of ethical, experienced clinicians who understand and care about the people they’re treating. If rehab is focused on the treatment work rather than providing a vacation-like atmosphere, addicts are far more likely to recover and heal.

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If you or someone you care about is struggling with sex or porn addiction, help is available. For porn addicts, Seeking Integrity offers a low-cost online workgroup series. Click HERE for information. We offer a similar workgroup series for sex addicts. Click HERE for information.