donttellme2According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (, it is approximated that at least 20 to 23 million Americans age 12 or older needed treatment for substance abuse and addiction. Unfortunately, only about 4 million out of those 23 million received it. It is also estimated that alcoholism causes 500 million lost work days a year.



Treatment Centers for Drug and alcohol abuse is a blossoming industry. While there are many exemplary facilities, there are also facilities that are ill equipped at best and dangerous at worse.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) created a brief guide containing these initial inquiries:

1. Does the program use treatment backed by scientific evidence? Ask the facility what the scientific rationale for their programs is. Do they utilize medical management, medications or other types of interventions? You will find that there are a number of different treatment modalities and each one needs to be analyzed separately and on its own.

2. Does the program tailor treatment to the needs of each patient? Specifically, is the treatment “one size fits all”, or do they have different programs or tracks. Does the facility address the needs of patients with “dual diagnosis” or “co-occurring disorders”; such as, eating disorders, or hypertension, and other medical or psychiatric conditions.

3. Does the program adapt treatment as the patient’s needs change? How does the treatment facility do these assessments and make these referrals. For example, if it becomes evident that a patient is in need of additional medical services, how do they ensure that happens in a timely and appropriate manner?

4. Is the duration of the treatment sufficient? Specifically, different programs have different ideology regarding this issue. There are some programs that are many months in duration. Others are much more short term. This again will depend on the specific needs of the specific patient and needs to be discussed and addressed.

5. How do 12 step or other similar recovery programs fit into drug addiction or substance abuse treatment? There are different programs that have different ideologies and philosophies as to what best works.

These are general overview questions that will hopefully educate the prospective patient and/or family member. Once you have gotten to this point, if the facility is well run and above aboard they will answer these questions…

1. Has the facility had any complaints lodged against them? In Florida, the State Agency that licenses Substance abuse facilities is the Department of Children & Families. ( If the facility is in another state, ask them who licenses them and whether there have been any complaints. Then check yourself.

2. Where are the patients going to stay? While the marketing brochures may look fabulous the reality of the facility may not match. Fire code safety and sanitary facility have been issues.

3. Who are the patients going to stay with? Meaning is the facility co-ed and how does the facility maintain boundaries.

4. Ask what the “success rate” of their program is?

According to the SAMHSA National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that relapse rates for addictive diseases usually range in the range of 50 to 90% and there are numbers of different factors relating to this. So you want to ask what this particular facilities follow-up studies are, follow-up information is and how they base it.

5. Ask about the staff. How many professional licensed staff members are there versus non-professional? Specifically, who are the people that are going to be interacting with your loved one on a day to day basis? In Florida, as well as other states, there are certifications and license requirements for para-professional and professional staff members who work in this filed.

6. More about the staff… Do not be afraid to ask the hard questions, what the backgrounds of these people… Have any of these individuals had any complaints, felony charges, criminal complaints and the like. It is not uncommon in this industry to have recovering substance abusers help those just beginning their own recovery, and some of these people have difficult pasts. These individual can be wonderful and truly help others but there are those who have no business working with vulnerable patients.

Substance abuse treatment and facilities have enabled millions of people to get back to productive effective lives. It is our hope that if you or your loved one is in need of such treatment that you do the homework and investigate and find the right facility!

Written By:

Susan B. RamseyGary Roberts & Associates, PA324 Datura StreetSuite 223West Palm Beach, FL 33401susan@palmbeachtrialattorney.net561.686.1800

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s ramseyMs. Ramsey’s professional experience began as a Registered Nurse at Yale New Haven Hospital. While pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree, she was a counselor with the New Haven Rape Crisis Program. Ms. Ramsey graduated from CUNY Law School, and is admitted in several different state and federal bars. She is a Florida Licensed Health Care Risk Manager. She has spoken and presented publications for a number of organizations, including nursing and paralegal institutions. Ms. Ramsey assists families whose loved ones suffer from the disease of substance use disorders. She received the Arnold Markle award by the Judicial District in New Haven, Connecticut, for her work with survivors of sexual assault. Ms. Ramsey actively litigates cases involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful death on behalf of victims. Ms. Ramsey is an Advisory Board Member of; The Recovery Source, Inc. A non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.