Similar to the New England area as a whole, Rhode Island in recent years has been experiencing an epidemic of addiction and drug abuse. Because of this, a large number of people in the state are in need of substance abuse treatment. However, even for people who are actively seeking treatment, or for family members who are concerned about a loved one, it can be hard to know where to start.

For those who are ready to begin treatment for drug abuse or addiction, it can help to understand the treatment options in the local area. Knowing more about the issues involved in substance abuse, the available facilities and treatment types nearby, and how to make sure a program is providing high-quality treatment can help an individual who is reaching out for help get started on the path to recovery.

Addiction Treatment in Rhode Island

Rhode Island substance abuse treatment programs receive oversight from the state’s Substance Abuse Treatment Services. This organization makes sure that programs are high quality, accessible, and clinically appropriate in order to provide the state’s citizens with the best possible substance abuse care. The agency’s responsibilities include:

  • Developing and implementing policies and plans for substance abuse treatment
  • Assessing statewide treatment needs and capacity, and managing state grants and contracts
  • Providing guidance and assistance to treatment organizations, providers, and the public
  • Researching and recommending options for funding and service delivery

This agency operates under the umbrella of the Department of Behavioral Health Care, Developmental Disabilities & Hospitals, which also provides oversight for state mental health care through the Mental Health Unit.

Only about 19 percent of people with serious mental illness in Rhode Island are getting the help they need through the state’s services, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

stats facts and data

Stats, Facts, and Data

There is a great deal of data on substance use, its effects, and its treatment in Rhode Island. This includes:

  • Numbers of treatment centers
  • Rates of drug abuse and mental health issues
  • Numbers of people who need and seek treatment
  • Effects of substance abuse on crime and death rates

The following summarizes these stats and facts.

Number of Treatment Centers

number of treatment centers in RI

According to the most recent National Survey on Substance Abuse Treatment Services, Rhode Island has 63 recognized, accredited treatment programs. This includes:

  • 47 private, nonprofit treatment centers
  • 14 private, for-profit programs
  • 2 government-run facilities – one by the US Veterans Administration and one by the Department of Defense

The state has no state- or county/municipality-run programs.

Rates of Drug Use, Mental Illness

According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Rhode Island has the highest rates of illicit drug use and marijuana use in the country.

  • People 12 and older who used marijuana in the prior year in Rhode Island: 19 percent
  • People 12 and older who used marijuana in the prior month nationally: 13.2percent
  • People 12 and older who used illegal drugs in the prior month in Rhode Island: 14.53
  • People 12 and older who used illegal drugs in the prior month nationally: 10.2 percent

Rhode Island also has a higher-than-average rate of nonmedical use of painkillers in the past year at 4.15 percent. Nationally, the rate is 4.06 percent.

When it comes to mental illness, according to the Rhode Island Behavioral Health Project, the state also tops the nation in the numbers of young adults 18-24 who have experienced serious psychological distress: 19.8 percent compared with the national rate of 17.9 percent.

With all of this, about 7 percent of people 18 and older in Rhode Island have perceived unmet mental health treatment needs.

Deaths and Hospitalizations Due to Drug Abuse or Mental Illness

An article from the Providence Journal reports that in 2014 there were 212 deaths in the state due to drug overdose. The Rhode Island Behavioral Health Project noted that Rhode Island also had the highest rate of death due to narcotics or hallucinogen use – 12 people in 100,000 – compared to other states in New England and to the national rate – about 9.5 in 100,000.

Hospitalizations in Rhode Island due to mental health issues were greater than those in Maine, Massachusetts, or Vermont, according to the Rhode Island Behavioral Health Project.

Crime Rates for Drug Abuse and Mental Illness

Crime Rates for Drug Abuse Rhode Island
The most recent information from the Rhode Island Department of Corrections shows that drug crimes account for 13 percent of criminal offenses, while drug possession accounts for 8 percent of offenses for which people are incarcerated in the state.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 600 adults with mental illness were incarcerated in 2008, the year of the most recent study.

State and Local Laws on Addiction and Treatment

Rhode Island has forward-thinking laws about addiction and mental health treatment that are designed to provide the highest possible level of care to meet each individual’s needs. The state has already required substance abuse and mental health treatment to be covered by insurance; however, a recent law described in an article from Rhode Island Public Radio expands this to require the insurance companies to follow the same criteria used by medical professionals to determine what type of treatment is needed.

Rhode Island also has specific laws about licensing treatment centers and providing services. While the Substance Abuse Treatment Services agency oversees, manages, and implements statewide programs, a state certification board administers accreditation and certification of treatment professionals and programs.
These organizations can also help individuals ascertain whether or
not a particular program or professional is carrying the proper
certification and licensure.


Treatment Credentials and Accreditations


Rhode Island makes it easy to verify that a treatment professional holds the proper qualifications and licensure to provide treatment services. Through the Online Verification and Complaint Submission site, individuals can look up any treatment professional or business to verify that the they are qualified to provide the services claimed.

The state provides comprehensive information on the process through which organizations and individuals that provide behavioral health treatment are licensed. Certification is performed through the Rhode Island Certification Board, which outlines requirements and reviews applications for licensure.

This organization also requires applicants to adhere to strict ethical standards as outlined on the site, both for prevention organizations and for treatment organizations, in order to make sure that all professional relationships with clients maintain a required level of propriety.

Nonprofit and Government Treatment Resources

The Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities & Hospitals provides a resource page to help users find substance abuse treatment programs, including a list of agencies licensed to provide treatment services.

The Drug and Alcohol Treatment Association of Rhode Island provides resources and training for treatment and prevention providers in the state.

When selecting a treatment center, it is important to verify legal state accreditation, as well as make sure the program is providing research-based treatment. This will ensure the best chances of achieving and maintaining recovery after treatment.