How Our Addiction Treatment Centers Are Failing

by AdamS on July 4, 2012

In America, addiction treatment is unlike any other form of medical detox. This is odd, because addiction has long been recognized to be a medical condition. An explosive, new report conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, titled “Addiction Medicine: Closing the Gap Between Science and Practice,” describes how the medical profession has largely ignored the issue of addiction treatment. Consequently, the report suggests, addiction treatment, such as crystal meth detox has been left in the hands of a variety of different schools of thought when it comes to recovery. Many of these methods, which operate outside the realm of medicine and science, employ unproven therapies, untrained staff, and use little medical supervision in their unique treatment facilities.

The Problem

The report holds no punches in its attack on the current system of addiction treatment in our country. It goes on to state, “Some programs promise ‘one time’ fixes, others offer posh residential treatment at astronomical prices with little evidence justifying the cost. Even for those who do have insurance coverage or can pay out of pocket, there are no outcome data reflecting the quality of treatment providers so that patients can make informed decisions.” While advocates for those in recovery have long, and successfully, argued that addiction is, in fact, a medical disease, it seems as if no one in the medical industry has started treating it as one. Within the medical community, there exists no accepted standard of care for those suffering from an addiction. This problem does not exist for virtually any other kind of medical affliction. When it comes to recovery treatment, roughly 90% of facilities utilize 12-step programs, endorsing meetings, confessions, humility and prayer in order to facilitate recovery. Needless to say, these methods are scarcely used to combat any other kind of disease.

Requirements

Part of the problem, it seems, is that in some states, virtually anyone can open an addiction treatment center. There are no requirements or accreditations a person must have before they can begin offering their own brand of help to patients. In fact, in America, only six states require counselors at drug treatment facilities to have a bachelor’s degree, and just one state requires a master’s. The report also stated that almost half of all individuals who are in treatment centers to combat an addiction to illegal narcotics are there by court mandate. This provides many treatment centers with a constant flow of new clients, who have no choice as to whether or not they can attend.

The report offers a lot of criticism of the current model while providing only a few suggestions for how to make it better. Among those suggestions is that treatment facilities begin to rely less on 12-step methods for medical detox, and more on evidence based, medical care. In addition, the medical community needs to incentivize young minds to enter the field of rehabilitation counseling with well-paid positions. Whether or not you agree with the report’s findings is, ultimately, inconsequential. Everyone recognizes that addiction is a serious issue, and that the current model of rehabilitation could stand to improve. However, there are quality drug treatment centers out there with great crystal meth detox programs, and they remain the best chance an individual struggling with addiction has at getting healthy.

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