What is a Drug and Alcohol Facility License?

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what is a drug and alcohol facility license

Prior to opening a rehab center, there are some important steps to ensure compliance with state requirements. What is a drug and alcohol facility license? Read on.

If you are in the planning stages of launching a rehab center, you are probably spinning many plates at the same time. For sure, opening a rehab is not like opening a retail shop or an accounting office. Treatment centers are tightly licensed and regulated, making opening a rehab more akin to medical practice.

There are many steps required before your rehab is approved to operate. Of these, licensure is going to consume a good amount of time and effort. Keep reading to learn about what obtaining a drug and alcohol facility license entails.

What is Addiction and Mental Health Facility Licensure?

Regulating bodies at the state level help to ensure that a rehab center is following the guidelines issued by SAMHSA. This is a federal agency within the Health and Human Services Department that oversees the nation’s drug and alcohol facilities.

Rehab licensing includes:

Certificate of Need. When you decide to open a rehab facility you must first file a Certificate of Need application at the state level. This helps control the number of rehabs operating in a given region. Prior to establishing a rehab center, the CON permit is filed in your state but then approved by the HHS.

Level of Care designation. Rehab facilities are required to obtain at least one Level of Care designation. These are based on the treatment criteria outlined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). This LOC designation may be obtained from either the state or ASAM or both.

State licensing. While the requirements in each state may vary somewhat, most states follow a similarly exhaustive list of regulations. States are tasked with the job of ensuring that treatment centers have complied with local zoning ordinances, fire laws, and building codes. The provider must show proof of insurance and also provide an organizational chart. Some states ask that the provider show detailed plans about the treatment program and staffing.

Certifications. After the provider has applied for state licensure, they begin the certification process. This involves another application and fee, and then an on-site inspection of the rehab center. This ensures that the provider is in compliance with the various state standards. Most states will require that the treatment center renew this certification every two years.

Accreditations. There are two primary accreditation agencies for drug and alcohol treatment programs. These are the Joint Commission and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). The purpose of these entities is to provide evidence to prospective clients that the rehab adheres to industry standards. The standards are derived from experts in the field, consumers, and government agencies.

Other Steps to Complete Before Opening a Rehab Center

While the licensing aspect is an essential part of launching a drug and alcohol treatment center, there are many more. Never lose sight that this endeavor is also a business. In that light, there are many steps to be completed before a successful opening:

  • Business plan. As with any business venture, the owners of a rehab center will need funding. To obtain funding, it is necessary to create a detailed business plan. A business plan lays out the short-term and long-term goals for the operation and includes a Pro-forma financial study. This helps banks and lenders know that the business is financially feasible.
  • Policies and procedures. Prior to opening, you must create a description of the program and an internal policy manual. The program description outlines the various treatment elements. The policy manual includes company policies, the employee handbook, and other H.R. aspects of the business.
  • Staffing. Once the level of care is determined, it will dictate your staffing needs. A rehab requires a range of expertise, including a medical director, psychiatrist, psychotherapists, addiction counselors, nursing, caseworkers, and administrative help.
  • Marketing. Addiction treatment is a highly competitive field. A marketing plan is needed to drive prospective clients to your rehab and to grow the business. A marketing plan helps to promote brand awareness and can differentiate your program from competitors in the area.
  • Physical plant. Office furniture, supplies, equipment, and IT systems will need to be ordered and installed. Also, bedroom furnishings, dining and kitchen equipment, lobby furniture, and décor will need to be purchased and delivered.

Obtaining the proper licensing is a critical phase of the planning process prior to opening a treatment center. This can be a tedious process that can slow down the timeline toward launching the rehab.

Slogging through the paperwork from multiple agencies can be confusing, as well as time consuming. Consider joining up with a consultant who can guide you in the drug and alcohol facility license submission process.

Consulting Services in the Addiction and Mental Health Industry

Circa Behavioral Healthcare Solutions provides professional services and consulting on obtaining a mental health or drug and alcohol facility license in the state of California. Our expertise can guide clients through the complex regulatory and licensure process. Contact us today at (888) 458-6619.