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What Licenses Should a Medical Detox Center Have?

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If you or a loved one are suffering from drug addiction or alcohol abuse, you know how important it is to get help. If you are searching for a reputable medical detox center, there are certain criteria to look out for that can be the difference between a good detox center and one to avoid. Ideally, a detox center should have all applicable state and federal licensing.

This is essential for the safety and ultimate success of you or a loved one who needs detox services. Additionally, some detox centers also offer psychiatric services to treat mental health disorders, which often coincide with an addiction. If you’re searching for a good detox center, here are qualifications to look for.

Why Should You Choose a Licensed Medical Detox Facility?

Just as you wouldn’t go to a doctor or a dentist who didn’t have the appropriate credentials, you shouldn’t go to a detox center that is not certified. Drug and alcohol addiction is a serious problem, as evidenced by these statistics:

  • In 2014, about 2.5 million Americans suffered from addiction
  • Nearly 80% of addictions are alcohol-related
  • Drug and alcohol addiction costs about $200 billion annually on criminal justice, legal services, and lost productivity at work and school
  • Nationally, there is a 10% success rate through non-licensed treatment facilities and programs

Those statistics show that every year, time, money, and faith is lost in getting adequate treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction. Quite often, treatment programs fail because the staff is not adequately trained or the treating facility does not have sufficient standards of care. Additionally, many people who suffer from drug or alcohol dependency also suffer from a co-existing mental health condition. Sometimes, a mental health problem pre-disposes an individual to addiction. At the very least, it exacerbates the problem. Getting help for both conditions, which is easier to do at a fully licensed facility, is key to success.

State Licenses

In the United States, laws are primarily established at the state and federal levels. Some laws, such as finance and immigration, are reserved for the federal government. But others, like traffic laws and criminal offenses, are determined at the state level. Most drug and alcohol violations are considered criminal (state-level) offenses. Therefore, detox facilities are governed primarily by state law. However, federal regulations might sometimes dictate how state detox centers can operate too.

In many states, statutes dictate the operation of residential and outpatient drug and alcohol detox centers. What is confusing to some people is that although all states set their own laws, not all laws are the same. For example, a detox facility in Florida might have difference licensing requirements than a similar facility in Georgia. Before a facility even opens its doors, many state laws require all staff members to undergo a thorough background check. This can take a long time! The facility itself is subject to many regulations and inspections, such as:

  • Proof of insurance
  • Certificate of Occupancy (COO)
  • Certificate (proof of inspection) from local, state, and federal building authorities
  • Fire marshal inspection
  • Kitchen inspection
  • Inspection of electrical, plumbing, and gas
  • Submission of building and floor plans

In addition to those requirements above, some facilities are required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and show that they are handicap-compliant. Some states, such as New Jersey, also require that the facility has a full-time licensed physician on staff. Other requirements might extend to the facilitator manager too, such as proof that he or she has obtained all necessary professional certification. Depending on the state, a facility operator may need to have a Master’s degree or another certificate of higher education to legally run a facility.

Federal Licenses

As you can see, there are many qualifications that a detox center must meet at the state level. However, some federal regulations apply to the legal operation of a detox center, too. For instance, any counselors on staff may be required to be licensed through a national organization. The same may apply for healthcare providers and other staff members. If the detox center offers medication, the prescribing physician will need to have at least state certification, and often federal certification, in order to administer medication to patients.

While most regulations regarding the operation of a detox facility are determined at a state level, the federal government may have some discretion over whether or not to help fund a facility. For instance, some facilities offer insurance and payment assistance through federal programs such as Medicare. Other times, individual patients are required to go through their private insurance companies to fund their detox program, regardless of whether they are going through a residential program or a temporary outpatient program.

Federal regulations may also have some requirements for research and reporting standards for each treatment facility. Both state and federal governments use this data to communicate information about substance abuse to the public. Sometimes, facilities must also pay a fee to the federal government for upkeep, such as charges to expand or add new beds. Finally, federal regulations are more prevalent in residential facilities than out-patient facilities. Detox centers that offer in-patient treatment must abide by federal building and housing codes.

Choosing a Facility

Regardless of what state you live in, it’s important to make sure that the facility you’re eyeing for treatment is a good match. Ideally, a treatment facility should be at least five years old. This means that it has established enough of a reputation – and business – to stay afloat. While some facilities will capitalize on the need for treatment based on the latest epidemic (such as the opiod crisis), facilities that have been around for awhile generally have solid programs that work for all types of addictions. Of course, insurance coverage and proximity to your home are other factors to consider, too.

Drug and alcohol addiction is a serious problem, and the sad truth is that not everyone gets the help he or she needs to have a successful recovery. While there are many detox centers out there, it takes some investigation to find the best one. Fortunately, there are standards set at the state level, and sometimes the federal level, that help you weed out the worst treatment facilities from the best ones. Finding a good treatment facility initially is essential to getting your life, or the life of a loved one, back on track. Call a counselor today at 877-497-6180.

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