Before choosing any rehabilitation facility, you should ask three important questions that will help you understand what to expect while in the program, and more importantly, whether the program is right for you and your particular needs.

1) How long does the rehabilitation program last?

Probably the most important question you can ask when looking for an effective treatment program is not how much it costs—after all, someone’s very life is at stake—but how long the program will last. Many people find this surprising, but the reasons are quite clear. First, most individuals struggling with drug and alcohol addiction have suffered with this problem for years, many for more than half their lives, and some for most of their lives. We all know that fixing this problem could take years. Imagine a medical student trying to learn brain surgery in 21, 28, or 30 days—probably not going to happen. Addiction is similar in the sense that you are helping a person break habits that have not worked for the addicted individual in dealing with problems such as depression, loss, stress, financial crisis, divorce, social issues, lack of self-esteem, and other perceived failures.

The best treatment programs are open-ended, meaning patients don’t leave the program until they have finished all the required steps, regardless of how long it takes. Open-ended rehab programs allow patients to travel along in their recovery processes at their own pace. Everyone is different, every addiction is different, and some people may need more help with psychological issues while others may need more help with physical issues. The best drug rehab programs focus unique characteristics and deliver an individualized program based on those needs.

2) What is the best counselor-patient ratio?

Ideally, the best answer to this question would be one-to-one counselor-patient ratio, but unfortunately this is almost impossible. A good figure would be one counselor to five patients, but a more practical ratio is one counselor to fifteen patients. Ratios anywhere in this range ensure plenty of one-on-one interaction and stronger relationships between the counselors and their patients. Many new forms of counseling, such as cognitive therapy, biophysical treatment, and bio-identical hormone therapy, produce excellent results, but require more personalized interaction between counselor and patient.

3) How much daily counseling is offered in the program?

One school of thought is you can never have too much counseling, and certainly there is truth to this statement. But ineffective counseling can cause more damage than not. The science of rehabilitation continues to develop, and some traditional treatment methods may not work well with some patients, while newer forms of counseling and therapy can be more effective for those patients. If a residential treatment program offers two to five hours a day of effective counseling and therapy, most patients get good results. Experience has taught us that results-based therapy that focuses on solutions is more effective than psychoanalysis that focuses on the past.

These three questions are very important to ask any intake counselor at a drug rehab facility. Choosing the right drug rehab facility could be the biggest decision you make in your life. It could end years of pain and suffering and return your loved one to the amazing, loving person that you once knew.