There’s a massive, unnamed center that runs lots of TV commercials you’ve probably seen. We’ll call them American Anonymous Centers. And this conglomerate is one of the worst offenders. Offering what I call “Walmart” addiction treatment, it lacks the compassionate essence critical to effective care.
To be sure, the treatment industry is an industry. It’s a business, for better or worse. Recovery, however, is not something that can be monetized. The most effective recovery organizations take pride in offering services from an altruistic ethos. To pass along the gift of recovery, treatment organizations should embody similar principles. It’s a classic case of, “you cannot transmit something you don’t have.”
Unfortunately not all rehab facilities practice ethics embodied in authentic recovery. Greed is favored over honesty. As a result, quality organizations get lost in the shuffle. And for unfathomable reasons, sketchy treatment centers stay open.
Here are 5 shady practices addiction treatment centers engage to lure unsuspecting clients.
These websites position themselves as outlets for credible recovery resources. They are actually just fronts for large, for-profit addiction treatment centers. Or even worse, the websites sell the calls they receive to large, for-profit treatment businesses. Here is one example:
If you call the number at the top of the screen, you will be connected with a random treatment facility that paid this website to funnel calls to their call center. Even worse, the site positions itself as a nonprofit with the .org extension. It’s not.
Now let’s go to their site’s “treatment locator,” which claims to offer a comprehensive database of top alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers by state.
The feature has three categories to filter your search. But there are two problems. First, if you use the filter to state you have no money and no insurance or just state/federal insurance, you get this result:
The “treatment locator” doesn’t actually locate any treatment centers. It just tells you to go to the government’s substance abuse resource website, SAMHSA. That’s a nice way of telling you they can’t be bothered with someone unable to pay for high-end treatment.
What happens when you change the filter category from “No Money and No Insurance” to “Some Money and No Insurance?”
Now you’re welcome to call the helpline or fill out the contact form. This feature doesn’t actually find a facility for you based on the search criteria. It simply tells you to call them. Why? So they can sell your phone call to a treatment center that pays them.
Commissioned sales representatives
In the treatment industry, “admissions” is a soft word for “sales.” It’s essentially the same thing. Many facilities employ commissioned representatives on the phone that employ high-pressure sales tactics. Some even lie about the amenities or credentials of staff. Don’t be afraid to ask the representatives if they receive commission for securing admission for you or a loved one.
This might be the worst practice of all. Too many addiction treatment centers tell potential clients that their health insurance provider has approved payment for the majority of services. Then, the center requires payment for the different between what insurance covers and what they charge.
I’ve personally fielded calls from families in crisis mode after health insurance decides to deny the claim days or weeks into their loved one’s stay in treatment. At this point, if payment isn’t secured, the patient will be discharged. This can happen only a couple days into the patient’s stay.
To complicate matters, many treatment centers require the patient and financially responsible parties to sign a disclaimer assuming liability for costs that may occur if health insurance denies the claim.
Most people should understand that “Cadillac” insurance plans aside, health insurance, on average, covers 60% of the cost of addiction treatment. Many families also fail to realize that a claim for addiction treatment on an umbrella plan often results in increased premiums or total loss of coverage.
Protip: Don't rely on the insurance-verification services of treatment centers. Call your insurance company and ask them precisely what substance abuse coverage your plan provides.
This seems to be the catchphrase on every website. Most addiction treatment program modalities claim to incorporate “evidence-based” practices. They don’t.
One prominent addiction researcher recently wrote:
“…many top rehab programs include extra features such as horseback riding, Reiki massage, and “adventure therapy” to help their clients exorcise the demons of addiction. Some renowned programs even have “equine therapists” available to treat addiction—a fairly novel credential in this context, to put it kindly. Sadly, there is no evidence that these additional “treatments” serve any purpose other than to provide momentary comfort to their clientele…”
Make sure you ask an addiction treatment program to give you concrete examples of research used to craft the program and support the methods used. If they balk, run.
Almost all treatment centers are co-ed, but they advertise as “gender specific.” This means the center keeps males and females separate from each other.
What they don’t tell you is that patients go to extraordinary lengths to “mingle” with patients of the opposite sex. Even the best efforts of top centers can’t keep patients from illicit rendezvous.
I spoke with a staff member at an all-male facility named Ric B. Mr. B has over 30 years of sobriety and worked with five co-ed treatment centers prior to working at a gender-exclusive treatment program. He said much of his time was spent, “delaying the inevitable.”
When patients dependent on a substance for comfort suddenly have that substance taken away, they will seek other avenues of comfort.
Make sure you send your loved one to a program that is gender-exclusive or houses male and female patients far, far away from each other.
Don't be scared to seek help, just do your homework!
This article is an attempt to help people better understand some of the unethical practices utilized by drug rehabilitation centers. It is not intended to prevent people from seeking help. Rather, its purpose is to encourage adequate research of treatment programs.
If you or a loved one need help with substance abuse or process addictions, make sure you do your homework. And don’t choose an organization that engages in any of the five practices listed above.
Content Originally Published By: Bill Dinker @ Discovery Place