Best Practices for Residential Rehab

Asian American Woman learning about Residential Rehab

One of the more difficult challenges in recovering from a substance use addiction is choosing a treatment program. Rehab takes place in a wide variety of settings across the country, from high-end facilities to more hospital-like institutions. In the process of browsing through brochures at your counselor’s office or looking at photos of serene settings on a website, one may feel overwhelmed with residential rehab choices. On top of choosing a setting, how do you look for a quality program that helps clients recovery?

To ensure access to quality recovery programs, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) was signed into law in 2018. This law set forth “best practices for operating recovery housing.” [1]

Based on this legislation, here are some questions you can ask a residential rehab center to evaluate treatment, regardless of location or cost.

Can the facility clearly state the goals of treatment?

The legislation reads, “Recovery houses are safe, healthy, family-like substance-free living environments that support individuals in recovery from addiction. While recovery residences vary widely in structure, all are centered on peer support and a connection to services that promote long-term recovery.”

What long-term support is offered?

The legislation recognizes that “the first 12 months…is a crucial period” for those in recovery. Ask what support is offered beyond the initial treatment stay.

Can the facility adequately co-occurring disorders?

Co-occurring disorders are mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or other conditions that often accompany substance abuse.

How does the facility assess the appropriateness of care?

Unfortunately, there have been instances when treatment facilities admit a client whose needs they cannot meet to fill a bed. Be sure to ask how the facility determines the right level of care and how they determine when to step up or step down levels.

Is there access to adjunctive outpatient services?

Young woman speaking with her therapist.Many clients may need additional services not offered in treatment such as physical therapy, spiritual counseling, or AA groups. Ask if you can attend these outside services while in treatment.

Ask for a copy of the patient manual in advance.

Most residential rehab facilities provide this upon the day of admission. Unfortunately, the quality of the manual can vary drastically from one facility to the next. Requesting a manual ahead of time can help you provide some insight into how the program runs.

Inquire about patient safety.

Ask the recovery center whether they are licensed with their respective state and other credentialing organizations such as JHACO.

Inquire about specific cultural concerns.

Ethnic, family, and spiritual interests are an essential part of recovery. For example, if you have religious practices such as dietary restrictions or a desire to attend services, ask how these situations are handled. Not every request can be met, but you will learn a great deal about the staff and facility by how they respond to your questions.

How frequently do they communicate with your treatment providers at home?

It is of vital importance that your treatment team at home understands how you are doing in treatment and what they can do to support you when you return. They can also provide invaluable input to the residential rehab center when you first admit.

Inquire how they define and measure recovery?

There is not a right answer here. Defining recovery and measuring success is very difficult to do when examining human behavior. You simply are asking them to articulate their philosophy and ensuring that they have some quality control.


[1] SAMHSA; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019, October 18). Recovery Housing: Best Practices and Suggested Guidelines. Retrieved November 9, 2019, from

About the Author:

Travis StewartTravis Stewart, LPC has been mentoring others since 1992 and became a Licensed Professional Counselor in 2005. His counseling approach is relational and creative, helping people understand their story while also building hope for the future. Travis has experience with a wide variety of issues which might lead people to seek out professional counseling help. This includes a special interest in helping those with compulsive and addictive behaviors such as internet and screen addiction, eating disorders, anxiety, and perfectionism. Specifically, he has worked with eating disorders since 2003 and has learned from many of the field’s leading experts. He has worked with hundreds of individuals facing life-threatening eating disorders in all levels of treatment. Travis’ website is

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed and Approved by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on November 13, 2019
Published November 13, 2019, on

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.