Good question. With some of the stories about shady rehab operators in various parts of the county still trickling in the media, it is understandable why someone might be skeptical about treatment programs. Thankfully, there has been a lot of work put into cleaning up parts of the field that were the major contributors.

That being said, there are still ways that you can verify that the facilities you’re considering are legitimate.

State Licensing

First and foremost, they should be licensed by the appropriate state departments to deliver treatment services, and for the levels of care that they are promoting. The names of these agencies differ from state to state. Examples are the Department of Children and Families (DCF) in Florida, the Department of Community Health (DCH) in Georgia, the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) in California, The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) in Pennsylvania, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in Texas, etc.

Make sure that their license covers the levels of care that they are delivering. For example, if they offer detoxification, residential treatment (RTC), partial hospitalization (PHP), intensive outpatient (IOP) or other services, their license should state so.

National Accreditation

Many rehab programs also receive accreditation through primarily one of two associations. These are The Joint Commission (JCAHO) and The Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission (CARF). Accreditation is not required in most areas, but is usually recommended. Some states, such as Florida, do require both national accreditation and state certification/licensing. It is also required by many insurance companies for higher levels of care, such as detoxification and residential treatment.

CARF and The Joint Commission have slightly different standards that they look for, and they are also slightly different from what states require for licensing. Therefore, one doesn’t necessarily mean that it is better than the other, nor does it mean that having more than one is redundant.


Rehab reviews on Google and Facebook are less official ways to see if programs are legit, but they can be telling. If the facility has a lot of positive reviews, don’t immediately take them on face value, instead take some time to really read them and see what people are saying about it. You should be able to quickly determine the quality of the reviews, such as actual detailed information versus generalized “this place is great” type reviews that are likely the result of a reputation management company instead of actual reviews.

If there are no reviews, ask the facility for testimonials or former clients who are willing to speak with people about their experiences there.

Tour the Facility

If the rehab you’re considering is close by, you should tour the place before committing to enroll. See the facility, meet some staff, observe the mood of the clients and get your own overall feeling of what it is like there. Even if it is not close by, it is still a good idea to get a tour before being admitted. Even the best pictures and videos online can’t quite convey the full experience of being there in person.