How to Choose an Addiction Treatment Program – The Recovery APGAR Score

Excerpted from Chapter 5 of The Recovery Book.

When a baby is born, doctors do a quick assessment of its condition using what is known as an APGAR score. You can do a quick screening of treatment programs using our Recovery APGAR system, which rates treatment programs on a scale of 0 to 10 on the basis of whether or not the most critical components are present. Any program that gets a score of 7 or higher is probably good.

You should be able to get the answers from websites or program materials, or by asking a program director, counselor, or admissions person the following questions. Award one point for each positive response. Unknown, ambivalent, and negative responses all score zero.  

Alcoholism as a primary disease: 

Does written program material state that the staff believe that addictive illness is a primary disease? ___

During the program is a patient required to complete a written life history? ___


Professional qualifications:

Are at least half the doctors on the attending medical staff certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine? ___

Are at least half the counselors in the program certified or licensed as addiction counselors? ___ 


Groups specially designed for addiction treatment: 

Does the program have group meetings to discuss the 12 steps of AA and NA? ___

Does the program have group meetings for families and to meet other special needs of patients?  ___


Abstinence orientation:

Are more than 90 percent of patients discharged abstinent from all mood-altering drugs and medications? ___

Is there a hospital policy that clinical staff remain abstinent from alcohol and other mood-altering drugs? ___


Recovery priority of the program:

Are more than one third of the clinical staff recovering from alcohol or drug problems themselves? ___

Are patients given the opportunity to attend and join AA or NA during treatment? ___ 


To read more about how to find a quality addiction treatment program, see The Recovery Book: Answers to All Your Questions About Addiction and Alcoholism and Finding Health and Happiness in Sobriety.

See also: Addiction Treatment Resources and How to Choose an Addiction Treatment Program.  

The Recovery Book

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