Beginning addiction treatment isn’t an easy thing to do. You may be facing barriers regarding stigma from family, taking time off work or missing family commitments to engage in treatment.

Take comfort in knowing that any sacrifices you make to attend substance use treatment are well worth the potential outcome of lifelong sobriety.

As you seek out treatment and decide the best program for your needs, you’ll find that your recovery environment can have a big impact on your success at avoiding relapse and managing triggers. In this article we’ll give you some tips on how to find a recovery facility that offers you the respect and quality of care that you need so you can focus on what’s most important.

The impact of environment on recovery

The environment in which you seek treatment can make the difference in whether you leave feeling defeated or complete treatment with a sense of hope and direction for your future. A supportive environment can increase treatment retention, making it less likely that you’ll find a reason to leave, as well as improve the effectiveness of therapy when you have a good rapport with the facility’s staff.

One of the main impacts of environment on achieving sobriety is creating a space in which you encounter minimum stressors. There are dozens of threats to recovery in the early days of detox and treatment, and your recovery center should protect you from these when you are most vulnerable.

A substance use recovery center can mitigate physical pain through medication assisted treatment and medication management and therefore decrease the physical stress of withdrawal and cravings. This can be provided through 24/7 medical staff supervision. Moreover, a recovery center should enforce a strict abstinence policy so other clients aren’t tempting you to return to an addiction.

The recovery environment should also be structured to provide minimal down time in which a person can become trapped in cycles of negative thought or experience boredom or loneliness, two common emotional triggers to substance use.

Things to look for in a recovery environment

1. Evidence-based care

At the end of the day, the most important thing about a recovery environment is that it is effective at treating substance use disorders. The most welcoming staff and expansive facilities are a waste of your time if the treatment isn’t evidence-based and implemented by skilled professionals.
Your journey deserves treatment that utilizes up-to-date research, methods and medications. Finding a reputable program that has accreditation can be tricky. Especially when some facilities offer supposedly miracle cures or rapid detox technologies. 
When you sign up for treatment, ensure that the recovery environment you’ve chosen adheres to state and federal standards of quality and care and operates under a license. This information should be available on the rehab center’s website or can be discussed over the phone.

2. Comfort

From the first inquiry to the days and weeks you spend in treatment, the environment’s impact on your success in recovery will have a lot to do with your level of comfort. There are many factors that influence your comfort, and many of them may be subjective to your personal preferences.
In assessing your comfort with addiction therapy, consider the following.
  • Was I respected in conversations with staff (gauge this based off numerous staff members, not just one)
  • Was my dignity upheld in my care
  • Did I receive adequate information about the facility (for example, schedule, expectations and rules)
  • Was I given the opportunity to ask questions about my care
  • Was I consulted in the creation of my treatment plan
  • Is the facility accommodating and clean

Safety is also an important factor in a recovery environment. Often, those in recovery have a history of trauma or experiences of violence, and a sense of safety is crucial for these individuals to succeed.

Feeling comfortable in treatment is important to help establish a rapport with clinicians, feel at ease with other clients and focus on your progress in sobriety.

3. Professionalism

A recovery environment that feels chaotic, stressful or unpredictable is unlikely to have a positive impact on your recovery. A facility should offer the peace and structure you need to focus on the task at hand- avoiding relapse and building strategies to remain sober. 
A well organized and professional recovery center will allow you the time and tools you need to focus on yourself. Your surroundings should be an afterthought when you’re in a professionally-run care center.

4. Access to additional services

The environment can impact your recovery through the additional opportunities it offers. Some rehab facilities will have the bare bones when it comes to outside support. Others will offer a plethora of resources. While not all of the following will be offered at most recovery centers, aim to find the ones that will most benefit you.
  • Financial assistance (especially for those who do not have insurance)
  • Medication services (such as an on-staff psychologist and medication management)
  • Transportation services
  • Assistance with discharge planning, including housing, childcare and career assistance
  • Resume-writing or interview practice
  • GED and higher education guidance and resources
  • Family therapy
  • Counseling for co-occurring mental health disorders

These additional services can reduce stressors in your daily life and prevent triggers from coming up in the first place.

5. Variety of therapeutic techniques

Recovery centers can offer a vast array of therapeutic modalities from art therapy to animal-assisted therapy. You may benefit from social excursions to practice real-life interactions without substance use or time spent in self-reflection in nature.
A holistic approach to treatment allows for numerous different supplemental therapies, and you’re likely to be more drawn to some than to others. Regardless, a recovery environment that takes advantage of multiple techniques can improve treatment retention and satisfaction with care.

The care you need

Finding the right recovery environment is important to long-term sobriety. A facility that makes you feel comfortable, safe and respected can improve retention and help you focus on your main goal of recovery.