The opioid epidemic, which just added Prince to its list of victims, has shoved the addiction industry into the spotlight, and many here at the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers conference worried aloud how the industry’s lax ethical standards would look in the new glare.
Nor is greater attention to ethics the providers’ only threat. Drug treatment is now big business, and a wave of consolidation is sweeping the industry, as private equity firms and publicly traded companies look to cash in on the surging rates of addiction. Federal regulators, meanwhile, are pushing to reform the very nature of the services offered by treatment centers.
How the addiction industry faces up to all these changes will help set the course of drug treatment for years to come.
It hits upon two themes from yesterday’s post. First, patient recruitment and expensive IOP:
Among the more abusive practices the NAATP is trying to root out is “patient brokering,” which several conference attendees told The Huffington Post should be more accurately thought of as “human trafficking.” Art VanDivier, chair of the NAATP’s Ethics Committee, said the going rate to steer a patient with Affordable Care Act coverage to a particular facility is now $7,000. That sounds like a lot of money, but the clinic can bill the insurer $15,000 to $30,000 for a month of treatment, charge for lucrative drug tests along the way, and then bill for eight or so weeks of intensive outpatient treatment.
It also discuss internet marketing concerns:
Another area of concern is the twist that online marketing has taken. Try it for yourself — hop over to Google and search for addiction treatment options in your area. Chances are good that most of the results you’ll get will have gamed their way onto the list, and none of them will actually be in your area. Third-party sites that present themselves as independent aggregators of information are often run by a single treatment center, and every phone number routes to it rather than to the various clinics the site purports to link to. “Closers” on the other end of the line are charged with persuading the family in crisis to send their loved one to that single center — even if they may be located far away. (Indeed, the distance can be sold as a positive, since removing the patient from negative influences can be beneficial.)
Unfortunately, the writer conflates 12 step facilitation (which is evidence-based) with these ethical failings, weirdness and zealotry.
UPDATE: It’s also unfortunate that they frame maintenance as the gold standard without any context. Of course, addicted physicians do not receive maintenance treatments, there’s a different gold standard for them.
UPDATE 2: It’s not enough to give the impression that people who believe residential and 12 step facilitation should be part of the continuum are weirdos and zealots. The author, while promoting his article, has now tweeted that “Industry leader says on the record he refuses to judge success ‘by who doesn’t die'”. It sounds like the guy was trying to make a point about quality of life, but it was a stupid comment nonetheless.
Who is this industry bigwig? Someone I never heard of and had to google. Turns out he’s the Director of Spiritual Care at Caron. “Industry leader.” smh