To work with those who are in denial about the seriousness of addiction takes dedication and understanding. Policies and procedures provide a basic structure.

Drug Addiction is a disease that responds to treatment. For every addict seeking help there are waiting lists and doors that close on the most vulnerable. Creating a substance abuse treatment center to help those in need is possible with a little planning.

Residential Treatment is Effective

Because they tend to be long term and focused, inpatient (residential) programs have better success rates than outpatient programs. While outpatient services rely on professionally trained staff to meet one-on-one with clients and facilitate groups, the client returns home daily to an environment that may be anything but “safe.” After failed outpatient treatment episodes, many addicts are referred to inpatient treatment. Residential recovery homes generally hire staff that has been through the program and may not be professionally trained. Many states do require staff certification but have processes for “grandfathering” in those with extensive experience.

Client Records are Protected

Confidentiality laws govern client charts. Charts include consent and admission forms, progress notes, and treatment plans. Treatment plans describe the long-term goals that clients agree to, encompassing addiction recovery, medical needs, legal problems, psychosocial issues, school and vocational plans, and financial concerns. Progress notes should be tied to the treatment plans.

Staff accountability should center on ethics and case management. Staff should assist and encourage clients, acting as liaison with other agencies and providers when needed.

Provide Objective and Subjective Education

Clients can learn from what they hear and see around them as well as from classroom-like study. Videos, speakers, discussion groups, book studies, and outreach opportunities help clients to break through denial. 12-step meetings that are not affiliated with the facility can be started on-site. Staff should lead by example and attend meetings they qualify for. Program curriculum should focus on providing support and structure until clients are motivated to apply what they learn to their own lives.

Have Written Policies and Procedures

A manual of written instructions and guidelines for every aspect of treatment is essential to good recovery home management. Directions and a list of materials for every group or class is needed. Administrative policies also need to be written and organized, and should include items such as the hiring policy; for example, the facility may only consider employees that have more than one year sobriety. Policies will vary depending on the clientele served; a facility for juveniles would need a different set of policies for asking a client to leave, for example. Blank original forms go into the manual as well as quick reference lists for outside contractors and maintenance schedules. Copies of state laws governing recovery homes should also be accessible. The Policy and Procedures manual needs to be reviewed and updated frequently and should be required reading for all new employees.

Respond to Community Needs

Becoming a non-profit organization is not difficult and paves the way for public support and funding. A board of directors is required to oversee operations. The program, like its residents, needs to define itself in relation to the community in which it operates. Schools and jails may ask for outreach and prevention assistance. Courts and social services may want to refer clients. Other public agencies may want to provide education, such as parenting classes or HIV information. By strengthening community ties, the program and its residents will have access to a wider network of support. Forming an Alumni Association can provide on-going support to graduates and new residents.