Choosing to enter a drug treatment program is one of the most important decisions for someone struggling with addiction. But not all programs are created equal. Research shows that, with the growing national opioid crisis, some drug treatment centers are focusing more on profits than patient care. 

It can be hard enough for individuals suffering from addiction to find proper treatment due to fears of the stigma associated with getting help. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 23 million Americans have a substance use disorder. Yet, only a tenth of those in need of addiction treatment resources receive them. How can you be sure you’re getting the professional care and treatment services you need to finally overcome dependence on drugs or alcohol? What dictates quality addiction care? How do you spot a bad addiction treatment program?

When the Bottom Line Matters More than Rock Bottom

A recent investigation by NBC News found that unscrupulous addiction treatment centers in South Florida are capitalizing on federal loopholes to make profits from the nation’s opioid epidemic. By billing insurance companies millions of dollars for needless testing and counseling services, they’re more concerned with making money than making a difference in the lives of those struggling with addiction. Many of these corrupt treatment centers not only overlook drug use but encourage it because their patients’ relapses lead to more profits.

Deciding to seek treatment is difficult enough without having to worry about the quality of care you receive. So, how can families separate bad drug treatment programs from the good? Experts and law enforcement officials have compiled tips and questions for patients and their loved ones.

Warning Signs of a Bad Addiction Treatment Program

  • Generic advertisements or websites: Reputable addiction care centers will identify the name of the treatment program they’re offering. Ads or websites that are generic and unidentifiable may be created by “brokers” who are simply collecting contact information of potential patients for whichever treatment center is paying them to do so.
  • Unsolicited referrals: Because brokers are paid by the treatment centers they represent, they may try to talk you into a program that may not be right for you or your loved one. If the person you’re speaking to receives referral fees from an addiction care center, that’s a red flag.
  • Offers free travel: In some states, paid travel to a drug treatment center is considered an illegal inducement. If the person with whom you’re speaking offers to cover travel costs to an out-of-state location, it’s a good idea to call the facility directly to confirm that he or she is an actual employee acting in your best interest. The same goes for any offers to pay for or waive insurance coverages or deductibles. It’s best to call your insurance company in these cases.
  • Offers of free rent from sober homes: Corrupt treatment centers often partner with operators of so-called “sober homes” to find patients with good health insurance by enticing them with free rent, grocery store gift cards, and cigarettes in exchange for going to a specific treatment center, which in turn earns them a “kickback,” or an illicit payment from the treatment center for the referral.
  • Limited discovery process: A good treatment center will spend a lot of time with a potential patient, asking for in-depth information and access to counselors or therapists previously used. Without these important details, the center won’t be able to truly know whether the patient is the right fit.
  • Daily tests: Treatment centers bill a patient’s insurance for drug screens and laboratory tests. If you or your loved one is undergoing daily or near-daily testing, that center is billing tens of thousands of dollars, which is not necessarily required and only increasing its bottom line.
  • Lack of individual therapy: Many crooked treatment centers will limit the number of individual sessions they offer because they’re more costly than holding group sessions. Remember that individual therapy is more costly because it works.
  • Lack of licenses or accreditations: A facility that is licensed and accredited is held to specific standards. Those centers that cannot show these credentials will not provide the level of care that’s required for recovery.
  • Limited programs: Drug treatment centers should offer a wide range of services, from support groups and confidence-building activities to medical and mental health care. These programs and therapies may involve addressing the individual’s motivation to change, providing incentives for abstinence, building skills to resist substance use, replacing the addiction with constructive and rewarding activities, and facilitating better interpersonal relationships. Without these necessary components, lasting recovery won’t be achievable.

Why is it Important to Look Out for Red Flags?

Finding the right treatment center is a painful process for some individuals; it’s not easy to find a good fit. This can make it easy to find whatever option is available, even if it means some red flags are being flown in the process. It is imperative that even if someone is agitated with how painstaking the process of finding a good fit is, they don’t settle for a treatment center with bad qualities.

Red flags are important to spot in any situation; they usually can be interpreted to mean, “stop, don’t go any further,”. This could mean the difference between a successful recovery and an unsuccessful recovery. Some treatment centers don’t value the concept of individualized care, all they care about are numbers. When numbers are all an organization cares about, there is no personal connection to be made which speaks volumes about the lack of existence of accountability. 

For someone to successfully move past their addiction, they need unique care that fits their particular circumstances. If this doesn’t happen then the rehab will feel more like a copy/paste edition of recovery. While this may work for some people, it does not work for the vast majority. People are uniquely made with their background and experiences to boot. Treatment should be individualized based on this so that it lessens the likelihood of relapse. 

Sometimes a potential patient will make an exception for red flags based on the fact that red flag behavior has been normalized. There’s a conception that it’s “just the way things are” and that it will always be that way, but it doesn’t have to be. If we begin to make exceptions for being treated poorly by others, what does that say about how we treat ourselves as a result? If the exception to the rule starts with brushing poor rehab off the shoulder, then there becomes some dangerous potential for the chance of excusing behavior that will lead to relapse, landing someone right where they started in the first place (maybe even worse off than before).

Questions to Ask Before Entering Treatment

Lifetime recovery is possible with treatment and management, but everyone has their own story and needs to follow a treatment path that meets their unique needs. As you or your loved one considers a treatment program, here are some questions to ask to ensure you’re choosing a reputable facility that fits your needs.

  • Is the center staffed with certified chemical dependency counselors?
  • Does the facility have a medical director on staff?
  • Are the center’s medical doctors certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine?
  • Does the treatment center offer care for other medical needs, such as mental health?
  • Our licensed employees available 24 hours per day?
  • What is the staff to patient ratio?
  • Does the program address the patient’s history and family history?
  • Does the center employ an evidence-based approach to ensure its treatment plans are rooted in scientific knowledge?
  • Does the center offer customized treatment plans as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach?
  • Is there support offered after the patient finished treatment, (i.e., Does the program boast a continuum of care approach with alumni programs and after-care support)?
  • When it comes to insurance, is the facility in-network; if not, what out-of-pocket expenses can be expected?

How to Spot a Bad Treatment Center

Not every drug treatment center is the right fit for every person. In your search for addiction care, don’t just rely on phone calls, emails, and claims. The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also provides a free confidential hotline and search tool to help you with your research.

Above all, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Addiction is a widespread problem and there are plenty of people affected by it who are willing to offer support and advice. As Florida’s most renowned drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, Unity Behavioral Health has helped thousands of people recover from the impact of addiction. 

Don’t Settle for a Bad Treatment Center

Substance use disorder is a difficult hurdle to overcome. The only thing that could make it worse is attending a recovery center that treats you poorly. Settling is not worth the dangerous potential for relapse. Our staff of professionals is specifically trained and experienced in the field of addiction medicine to ensure every person receives the personalized care he or she needs. Contact us today to learn more about our life-changing programs.

Get Help Now

Speak to one of our experienced and caring representatives at Unity Behavioral Health to learn about how our rehab programs can help your loved one defeat addiction.

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