We’ve all heard stories about unscrupulous providers of addiction treatment services. In this country, addiction treatment has become a $35 billion industry, opening the floodgates for a host of unscrupulous operators who prey on vulnerable individuals and families. Many seem to follow a pattern: they provide a nice brochure, make claims about success rates and offer prepaid plane tickets. In some treatment centers, they’ve almost become “body brokers” who thrive on luring people who are desperate for help. They’ll dangle promises of spa-like surroundings where their residents can detox and recover while they basque in luxurious settings, often in a posh mansion. The truth is that many of those facilities have no real data on success rates and independent studies that “celebrity style” recovery centers have success rates that are worse than those facilities that provide holistic treatment plans and relapse prevention treatment. The truly dark side has been exposed by investigations where some providers try to bill the patients’ or often their parents’ insurance for hundreds of thousands of dollars in questionable treatment and expensive and unnecessary drug tests. When the insurance runs out, patients are often literally kicked to the curb. In a few cases, we’ve heard of some centers encouraging patients to relapse so they can begin another cycle of treatment. That’s what happened to Alison Flory, big sister, bookworm, and her mothers’ best friend. Alison’s life in a Chicago suburb began spiraling out of control when her boyfriend completed suicide. She had just broken up with him and felt responsible for his death, her mother, Jennifer, says. A friend gave her some pills to ease the pain. Alison entered a legitimate rehab facility in Florida but was recruited to attend day treatment at several different facilities, all the while living in a series of unregulated sober homes where drug use was an open secret. It was in one such home that Alison died in October 2017 from cocaine and carfentanil toxicity. She was 24 years old. Her mother’s insurance company was billed $1.3 million.
How to Choose a Good Provider
Alison’s mother told her story to Dr. Oz, a show on which National Council Board of Directors Public Policy Chair Sara Howe also appeared. Howe, CEO of the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health, filmed a set of tips for finding a reputable addiction treatment provider, advice echoed in a recent factsheet on Finding Quality Treatment for Substance Use Disorders, published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). As Howe noted, treatment is just the first step in recovery from a substance use disorder. Individuals need to learn to live in a community, and they shouldn’t have to fly across the country to find help. A reputable treatment program should:
- Be accredited: Both the program and the staff should have received training in treatment of substance use disorders and mental illnesses and be licensed or registered in the state.
- Provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT is the gold standard in treatment for opioid disorders, and medication is also available to help those with alcohol use disorders. As SAMHSA points out, there are currently no FDA-approved medications to help prevent relapse from other problem substances.
- Use evidence-based practices. These include motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy and peer support. Effective addiction treatment should also arrange or provide for treatment of co-occurring mental illnesses and physical health problems.
- Involve families. Family members can play a crucial role in supporting their loved one’s recovery.
- Offer ongoing treatment and supports. Quality programs provide treatment for the long term, SAMHSA notes. This may include ongoing counseling or recovery coaching and support, as well as help in meeting basic needs such as housing and employment.
LegitScript Certification and Its Impact
In 2018, Google started cracking down on centers that were advertising. All providers were required to go through an accreditation process by an independent company called “LegitScript.” Finding addiction treatment just got a lot safer since this happened because each treatment facility is examined thoroughly – everything from billing practices, staff credentials, facility inspections, and verifications were part of the certification process. Today, only the facilities that have passed this grueling examination wear a LegitScript certification logo on their websites and promotional materials.
Doing Your Research
Finding addiction treatment means doing your research. With the internet, this has never been easier. If you or your loved one has already been assessed, it’s even easier because you’ll know what type of facility is best suited for your/their needs. If you or your loved one is just starting treatment, Rehab/Detox will be first. This will be followed by an IOP, PHP and/or Sober Living home as the next step(s). You can call any number of facilities to start the assessment process and most of them will either go over your options at their facility, or they’ll refer you to a trusted partner facility. Since EVERY recovery center wants a high success rate, they are usually VERY careful about their referrals to partner facilities – they crave the opportunity to showcase the effectiveness of their treatment programs. Ideally, Howe says, you should be able to speak directly to the provider or agency, not a middleman. Ask about the services they offer and what their outcomes are. Be certain they are prepared to assess the patient for the appropriate level of care and help them develop a recovery plan. If you can’t get an appointment within 48 hours, find another provider, SAMHSA says. SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator is available online or by calling 1-800-662-HELP (4357). If you have a healthcare program, either your own or your parents, it’s a great idea to contact them first to explore your insurance coverage options. If you don’t want to do that, we can do it for you. Whatever the case, treatment starts with the will of the patient to seek help. If you or a loved one is considering treatment, call us now. The consultation is 100%n confidential and you’re under no obligation.