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Getting into Rehab: The Admissions Process

Once you’ve decided to seek help for a drug or alcohol problem, you may not be sure where to begin. At most rehabilitation facilities, the process of recovery begins with a simple phone call. The conversation that follows will clarify your treatment options and guide you through the admissions process.
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Beginning your recovery journey can seem scary or intimidating. You may be plagued by questions and concerns about where to go for rehab, how you’ll pay for it or how you’ll get there. Understanding how the admissions process works can help ease any doubts or uncertainties and help you get you started down the path to sobriety.


Allison Walsh of Advanced Recovery Systems explains why it’s important to seek treatment for addiction as soon as you think you have a problem with alcohol or other drugs.

Step 1: Make the Initial Phone Call

Most rehab centers have staff standing by and waiting for your call. When you dial the number for an addiction treatment facility, you’ll be connected with an admissions representative who will conduct a pre-admissions assessment and guide you through the process of entering rehab.

During this confidential phone call, you’ll typically be asked to provide basic personal information, including your name, birthdate, address and employment. You’ll also answer questions about your substance abuse history — such as your primary drug of abuse, the length of time you’ve been addicted and how your substance abuse started.

You may also be asked about your mental health history, whether you have any co-occurring disorders and whether you are experiencing any financial or relationship difficulties.


Robert Fishman of Advanced Recovery Systems describes how ARS facilities can treat people with co-occurring disorders.

While some of these questions might seem invasive, it’s important to be as open and honest as possible during the interview. The pre-treatment screening will help the admissions coordinator determine the recovery option that will best suit your needs.

Even at this preliminary stage in the admissions process, false or misleading statements about your drug use can hinder the ultimate success of your treatment.

Step 2: Ask About the Cost of Treatment and Insurance Coverage

With a typical 30-day stint in rehab costing thousands of dollars, the cost of rehab can be a major factor in a person’s decision to seek treatment.

Most inpatient rehab centers accept insurance, and more people than ever have insurance that covers drug treatment thanks to the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.” Under the Affordable Care Act, addiction treatment is one of the 10 essential services that health insurance plans must cover. Your admissions representative will help you determine what services are covered by insurance and how much you might have to pay out of pocket.

Some treatment facilities also accept Medicaid, the federally and state-funded insurance program that provides free or low-cost health coverage. Many people with drug and alcohol problems may not realize they qualify for Medicaid, but the program covers care for low-income people, including families and children, pregnant women, senior citizens and people with disabilities.

Some rehab centers offer reduced rates for self-paying patients or “sliding scale fees” for low-income people that offer flexible payment plans and allow them to pay a little at a time.

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Step 3: Discuss Travel Arrangements

Depending on the location of the rehab center you choose, you may need some help getting there. While some individuals prefer to seek substance abuse treatment close to home, others may need to travel to another city, county or state to find a facility that’s the perfect fit.


Robert Fishman of Advanced Recovery Systems discusses the advantages of traveling for addiction treatment.

You may be more comfortable with an out-of-state facility. Out-of-state programs, for instance, provide more anonymity and make it easier for people to remove themselves from destructive relationships and environments that could lead to relapse.

If you think a distant program might be best but you aren’t sure to get there, your admissions coordinator may be able to assist you in making travel arrangements. Some facilities can help book your flight or pick you up from the airport, so be sure to ask what services are offered.

Step 4: Arrive at the Facility and Begin the Intake Process

Once you agree to treatment and arrive at the facility, you’ll go through a thorough intake process. This will likely include a number of lengthy medical and mental health examinations that your care team will use to create a tailored treatment plan and start you on the path to sobriety.

Entering rehab can be a confusing and uncertain time, but knowing what to expect can make the new experience much more manageable. When done correctly, admission to rehab should be a smooth and seamless process.

Delays should be avoided whenever possible. The more time that elapses between the first phone call, screening and admission, the less likely it is that a person will follow through with treatment.

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