Helping an Industry Help People
“What The Treatment Industry Fears”
We are in the midst of the worst public social health crisis America has ever seen. We are losing more people to a drug overdose than at any time in our history. According to US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, nearly 21 million Americans were directly affected by drug or alcohol addiction last year — a number similar to those suffering from diabetes.
This is a huge social and medical problem; there is hardly anyone in America who is not directly or indirectly affected, and the problem continues to worsen. Our opiate and heroin pandemic is escalating in an out-of-control synthetic storm. Prescription medication sales are on the rise. At this rate, the problem will only get worse in the years to come.
The need for addiction treatment is greater than ever before. Thanks to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act passed by Congress, mental health and substance use disorders (SUDs) must be treated like any other medical condition. When working with people seeking treatment for SUDs and families doing the same with unmotivated family members, I have found it tremendously difficult to find long-term treatment for people struggling with addiction. It has become even more difficult to find sufficient recovery support services for those completing primary treatment. Such services hardly exist across America; they’re not supported.
Incredible though it may seem, the US lacks a uniform system of care for addiction. We lack a long-term approach to treating an illness that people commonly accept as a lifelong condition. Treatment is needed more than ever, but is even more difficult for the industry to provide.
Present-day substance abuse treatment is both reviled and required for solutions. From my view over the past five years of finding and securing treatment for thousands of people, the treatment industry is rarely loved and often hated. However, this is a commodity many people are frantically searching for: “More beds! We need more beds! We need more long-term treatment beds with a continuum of care and recovery support services.”
In my opinion, the addiction pandemic will worsen over the next few years as more prescription medications are dumped on society, the synthetic opioids plague America with poisons made in China and in clandestine labs run by criminal syndicates, and catastrophic consequences begin to unfold from the legalization of commercialized and industrialized THC poisons mass-marketed as marijuana.
All the while, the treatment of a burgeoning population in need of therapy and counseling gets more difficult. I believe the biggest fear the Treatment industry has at this point is failure. Failure to treat these clients because of hindrances from the Insurance industry. We want this treated as a disease, yet don’t have a standardized system of care to treat it, and the industry charged with treating it is being hindered by the very industry that is charged to fund it – Insurance. Reimbursements to treatment centers are getting lower while the need for further, more extensive treatment increases. There are treatment centers closing down across this country as insurance companies that have approved services are denying payments. How does an insurance company approve a service and a treatment, then months later, deny the payment for that service? It’s immoral and unethical. It should be illegal. It’s what the treatment industry fears – being unable to save lives due to insufficient funding to operate.
In addition, relapse from the disease of addiction is typical. Treating the disease of addiction means also treating the continued recovery from that disease. Many people return to treatment over and over again. Treatment stints are getting shorter. Insurance companies are approving shorter and shorter stays and if relapse occurs, clients are receiving less and less time in treatment when common sense tells us, and all the evidence proves to us that more in-depth treatment fares better. Why are we providing less support to an industry that needs to provide more services?
Compounding this fear is the realization that the current treatment standards will be further developed and will require additional medical education and licensing, thus costing more. Addiction will be perceived as a “spectrum” disorder and the current “1 size fits all” programs will no longer apply to some individuals seeking treatment. Further education, and regulation will be developed and implemented thus changing substance abuse and mental health treatment as we know it.
The more evidence based science that we are releasing further indicates that not all addictions should be treated in the same manner. Just as ovarian cancer is not treated with the same chemotherapy as prostate cancer; the opioid addicted brain should not be treated with an alcohol addicted brain program. Just as some chemotherapy does not work the same on every individual’s ovarian cancer, we change the protocol. This is the medical practice of individualized treatment, that must be applied when treating addiction.
The treatment industry has for far too long been trying to put square pegs into round holes coupled with the very troubling lack of documented outcome data. In most cases of addiction, there is a personal history of trauma or an untreated mental health disorder that must be addressed. Thus, here again, this calls for additional licensed professionals and more complicated treatment. If these medical conditions are not treated medically, the client fails. The industry fails. We all fail.
If the treatment industry is hindered from providing these services because the insurance industry is more focused on shareholder profit than funding the solutions, we will be unable to solve the addiction pandemic. We must not allow the insurance industry to prevent us from treating a disease that is absolutely treatable.
Stay informed. Get involved. Visit www.recoveryarmy.com for more detailed explanation and proposed solutions. Learn how to get in touch and stay in touch with your federal, state and local elected leaders. Write to your State’s Insurance Commissioner. Details about personal and local impact are very effective in getting our message across.