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How to Find the Best Alcohol and Drug Detox in San Diego

U.S. News & World Report rates San Diego among the country’s 25 best cities to live in. The “Plymouth of the West” has over 250 sunny or mostly sunny days a year, 70 miles of beach-filled coastline, over 90 museums, 43 certified farmers’ markets and a world-famous zoo.

Unfortunately, San Diego also has illegal-drug-trafficking networks, around 70 DUI arrests per holiday weekend, and 250 deaths a year from prescription drug abuse. Being a top-ranked place to live is no guarantee against individual lives being made miserable by substance addiction.

The good news is, there’s help close to home. The National Directory of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment Facilities (published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) lists over 30 detox and rehab options in the San Diego area. Googling “detox San Diego” will get you over three-and-a-quarter million results; “rehab San Diego” yields over one million.

In fact, an initial look at the possibilities might change your question from “Is there any help for this addiction?” to “How will I ever find the best detox center for me?” No matter how desperate you feel, don’t just book yourself into the top search result from “detox San Diego”; untrustworthy clinics do exist, and many of the good ones may not fit your personality or philosophy. Ask a doctor or insurance agent for recommendations—but be careful if they seem overly enthusiastic about any one option. (Unscrupulous centers are notorious for paying referral kickbacks to “experts,” and California has few official regulations governing detox treatment.)

Here are some suggestions to help you make a good choice. (Review these also if you’re a family member trying to convince someone else to seek treatment: having a specific detox center in mind, and being prepared to explain why it’s a good choice, will ease the intervention process and head off further delays getting help.)

1. Review websites and social-media feeds in advance.

If a detox center lacks a website or major social media accounts, or hasn’t updated existing ones in months—that in itself is a potential red flag. On the websites and feeds you do find, here are some indicators a center has high values and is serious about its mission:

  • They are affiliated with a larger medical center, or they include licensed medical workers—MDs and RNs—on their staff/partners list.
  • They provide post-detox counseling.
  • They have resources for family members as well as detox patients.
  • They provide lots of useful general information on health and drug issues—without always plugging their own services front and center.
  • They link to useful content from outside sources, including major media, government/academic research and other treatment centers.
  • They have a calendar of events and/or a news page that indicates participation in the larger community.

Other things you can learn from websites and social-media feeds: Does this detox center emphasize a particular religious or spiritual philosophy? Can they accommodate special diets, physical disabilities or other medical issues? If they can’t be reached easily by public transportation, do they provide shuttle services for clients without private transportation? What insurance plans do they accept? What do their facilities and grounds look like?

2. Check outside opinions.

Since even the most reputable organizations will downplay anything that puts them in a negative light, see what outside sources have to say as well. Don’t stop with obvious online reviews: they attract the most opinionated comments, rarely backed up by objective data. Look for official consumer reviews. Coverage by established news sources. Chamber of Commerce reviews. Membership in, or certification by, larger organizations. Also check with Better Business Bureaus, health regulations agencies and other organizations that keep records of official complaints.

3. Set goals for your treatment and the time after.

Know what you want to get out of treatment. “Sober” is just a start: if that’s the only change you make in your life, it won’t last long once you’re back among the same old pressures. What habits besides the drug addiction would you like to get rid of? What (or who) adds the most stress to your life, and how can you change that? What are your real passions? Are you happy in your current career, or is there another dream you’ve kept buried too long? Do you have a “bucket list” of things you’ve always wanted to do but never gotten around to starting on?

Make a list of things you’d like to accomplish for a more fulfilling life, and don’t worry now about what’s “reasonable” or “possible.” This goals list will be a big help in your detox counseling.

4. Pay each of your top choices a personal “screening” visit.

Once your San Diego detox center options are narrowed down to a handful, make an appointment with each to personally visit the grounds and meet the people you’d be working with. Phone and Skype interviews are better than nothing, but there’s really no substitute for seeing the grounds and people in all three dimensions, with all five senses. (That’s one advantage of choosing a local clinic: you’ll be able to get there easily during the evaluation process, for the actual treatment and for follow-up afterwards—without the expense and inconvenience of long-distance travel.)

Top tips for the interview visit:

  • Bring a family member or friend. The second pair of eyes and ears will come in handy.
  • Ask to meet the people you’ll actually be working with—not just a receptionist and an officer.
  • Ask for a tour of the grounds. (If they refuse, cross them off your list: any reputable center will have facilities that can be shown without violating client privacy.) Note what specific amenities are there, and if current clients are visible and appear in good spirits. Are fire extinguishers and emergency exits in clear view? Is everything clean and uncluttered?
  • Ask about the center’s emergency plan. Are fire drills held regularly? Are buildings structured to resist earthquake and fire damage? Are generators available in case of power outage? What security measures are taken against strangers gaining access to the premises? Are sufficient food, water and medical supplies kept onsite to ensure everyone will be provided for if local infrastructure is temporarily disrupted? If it becomes necessary to evacuate the building or the neighborhood, how will the center provide for clients with limited mobility—and keep track of anyone requiring supervision?
  • Does the center feel right—or wrong? Don’t discount any “vibes” you get; they’re accurate more often than they get credit for.

Observe the detox center’s immediate neighborhood as well. Try to pick up hints about the center’s local reputation. Do all your homework before making a final choice: successful detox is too important, in San Diego or anywhere else, to not insist on the best center available!

Inland Detox, southern California’s leading detoxification-services provider, is located just 60 miles north of San Diego in the Temecula Valley. For more information, call (888) 739-8296.