Finding the right drug and alcohol rehab center for yourself or a loved one can be challenging. The opioid epidemic has led to a rise in the number of addiction treatment providers across the country. However, not all rehabs are the same. While there are many reputable treatment centers, there are also those who solely wish to profit from other people’s pain and suffering. These disreputable and dishonest treatment providers cut corners and offer subpar care to those who need quality care to recover. Choosing a quality rehab that offers effective programs and therapies is critical to overcoming addiction. At Addiction Helpline America, we believe a good way to determine if you are dealing with an ethical treatment provider is to make sure they are accredited.
Each state has their own addiction treatment licensure requirements. Licensing requirements vary from state to state and are subject to change from time to time. In addition to these basic requirements, most rehabs seek to earn a seal of approval from an accreditation agency by participation in an evaluation process. As defined by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF): “Achieving accreditation requires a service provider to commit to quality improvement, focus on the unique needs of each person the provider serves, and monitor the results of services.”. Most organizations choose to become accredited in order to hold themselves to a higher standard and set themselves apart from other providers. In some cases, however, regulatory agencies will require accreditation as a precursor to becoming licensed or certified, to maintain funding, or to meet regulatory requirements.
To become accredited, a rehab must submit to a thorough review by the accrediting body. During the process, the drug rehab facility will undergo a detailed evaluation of their rehabilitation programs, therapy offerings, business practices and relationships, staff, client care, and adherence to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines.
The accreditation process is thorough for several reasons:
Within the US, there are three nationally recognized accrediting bodies for addiction treatment facilities.
CARF was founded in 1966 and is an independent, nonprofit organization devoted to advancing the quality of rehabilitation services, from substance use treatment to retirement living. CARF grants accreditation to 90 different types of programs and has issued more than 25,000 individual accreditations. Their accreditation process is both extensive and rigorous. The process includes a consulting with a CARF resource specialist, a detailed self-evaluation, and a survey from a hand-select team. CARF’s surveyors are chosen based upon their relevant experience and conduct detailed on-site inspections to determine the providers’ adherence to all applicable standards. Upon completing the accreditation review process, CARF renders an accreditation decision. The decision will be one of the following classifications:
Source: CARF International, http://www.carf.org/Accreditation_Decisions/
Once accredited, the provider must submit a Quality Improvement Plan and Annual Conformance to Quality Report to CARF to remain accredited. This demonstrates the provider’s continued commitment to high quality treatment and improved patient outcomes.
The Joint Commission (formerly The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) is a not-for-profit, independent organization responsible for the accreditation and certification of over 21,000 health care programs in the US. The Joint Commission’s standards for behavioral health care providers are developed by experts and informed by industry best practices and addiction treatment data.
The evaluation performed by The Joint Commission includes the environment of care, leadership, continuing education of staff, patient care, evidence-based treatment, medication safety, screening procedures and assessments, consumer rights, and background checks.
Once a treatment provider has undergone the accreditation process, The Joint Commission will notify the provider of their decision. The decision will be one of the following classifications:
Source: The Joint Commission, https://www.jointcommission.org/-/media/tjc/documents/fact-sheets/accreditation-and-certification-decisions-1-8-20.pdf
Founded in 1977, The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. They currently accredit more than 1,600 organizations and programs serving more than 7 million individuals and families. They divide their standards into three parts:
COA evaluates the facility based upon information collected during their evaluation. This evaluation includes:
The PCR Report is reviewed by our Accreditation Commission, a group made up of our most experienced Peer Review volunteers, which will look at the evidence you provided (as well as your updated evidence) and either approve your accreditation or request more information. Once a decision is reached, we send your organization a Final Accreditation Report (FAR) with a complete set of ratings for all assigned standards.
Source: Council on Accreditation, https://coanet.org/accreditation-process/
For a comparison on different accrediting bodies discussed in this article, refer to this comparison chart provided by The Council on Accreditation.
An accredited rehab as taken the initiative, time, and money to undergo the rigorous accreditation process. In addition to the initial review, accredited rehabs continue to report their policies, practices, and outcomes to the respective accrediting body in regular set intervals. By doing so, they show the world they are dedicated to ethical, quality care in the addiction treatment industry. Less reputable treatment providers cannot pass the rigorous evaluations these accrediting bodies subject them to. Long story short, if you see that a treatment center is accredited, you can feel comfortable knowing they took the steps to attain the seal of approval. You should always choose a provider that prides themselves on providing the highest standard of care possible. Due to the nature of the accreditation review process, accredited treatment centers are considered safer than non-accredited treatment centers. Accreditation ensures the rehab facility is providing high-quality care that meets the standards of the accrediting body, therefore providing peace of mind.
Over half of addiction treatment programs are not accredited. You should always use caution before you or a loved one turns to a non-accredited rehab for treatment. When discussing treatment options at one of these centers, always ask about their accreditation status and ask why they are not accredited.
There is no guarantee in addiction treatment. Each person responds differently to different treatments. Success in a rehab program depends on several factors. These factors include the person’s history of abuse, chronic diseases and health conditions, the presence of a co-occurring disorder, and past traumatic life experiences. All accreditation can do is ensure the client that they are receiving treatment from a provider than has been recognized for providing care according to the accredited body’s standards. The existence of the accreditation means that the rehab has in place a solid structure, staff, program, and therapy regime that has met the highest standards.