Choosing a Treatment Facility

Happy Mother's Day

Choosing a Treatment Facility

It was Mother’s Day, 2010.

Gathered at my own mother’s home to celebrate the holiday, my family, along with my brother, sister-in-law and their kids, were enjoying time together.

I had walked into another room when suddenly I heard a commotion from the family room where everyone else was gathered.

I ran in to find my son, David, sitting on the couch holding a newspaper and shaking uncontrollably.  

“David, what’s wrong? Stop! What are you doing?” I shouted. “I can’t stop!” David answered. 

When the paramedics came, they kept repeating the question: What did you take? Despite repeated protests from David that he’d taken nothing, he confessed when at the hospital that not only had he ingested a pain medication he took from another relative’s medicine cabinet; he’d taken it because he couldn’t get his hands on heroin that day. He was a heroin addict. 

Miraculously, the doctors were able to clear David’s system of the medication, but now what? What was I supposed to do? I’d never even smoked cigarettes, let alone tried anything stronger. I was utterly devastated, and out of my element. While I’d known for years that David had issues with drinking, I had no idea he’d turned to drugs—and heroin? Oh my God. 


I knew only one thing—that I knew nothing. Actually, make that two things. I knew that my son was not going to return home after he was released from the hospital.  

When my husband relieved me at the hospital the next day, I went home and started Googling. Ten years ago, information about addiction and treatment was relatively limited. The scope of the crisis was just beginning to reach epic proportions, and there were few in-patient treatment facilities in our area. Desperate, I did find one not too far from our home that delivered what I assumed was the right message—qualified clinical treatment for addiction. That was about it. Basic information, but enough of a lifeline for me to pick up the phone and get my son admitted for treatment.  

With so little to go on, I simply had to trust that the facility where I delivered my son would be able to help him. Fortunately, the treatment center was a good one; I had thrown a dart and managed to get close to a bullseye 

Loving Family

These days, there are almost countless facilities offering addiction treatment—and not all are created equal. If you or a loved one needs treatment, consider the following before choosing a treatment facility: 

  • What is the scope of treatment offered by the facility? Detox, in-patient, out-patient and after-care services are all important to getting and staying sober. 
  • Staff make-up: What is the level of clinical care provided? 
  • Support programs: Does the facility offer family support as well as support for the patient? 
  • Post-treatment support: Does the facility maintain or have working relationships with reputable recovery houses
  • What programs are offered during in-patient treatment? Does the facility support whole mind-body wellness? 
  • And, less obvious, is the staff caring and supportive when answering your questions?  

Choosing a treatment facility can be confusing. Fortunately, a little research can lead you to quality care with a supportive team that will meet the needs of the patient and be there to support frightened family members with compassion and understanding.

Do some digging, ask the questions and most important—make the call. 

Mary Fran Bontempo is a 2x TEDx speaker, author and humorist. Visit her at

Her latest book, “The 15 Minute Master—How to Make Everything Better 15 Minutes at a Time,” can be found on Amazon.

Mary Fran Bontempo
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