A good catchphrase is like a commercial sales pitch to excite individuals to do something about their situation. Like any good catchphrase, it ends there. They are essentially clever terms or phrases that tend to promise a solution if you do this or the consequences if you don’t do that. Even celebrities exploit this by doing television appearances or interviews to convince them that this idea is valid.
Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it is. Don’t let this catchphrase sell you, and don’t let treatment centers convince you that seeing them will solve everything if you meet their definition of rock bottom. Treatment is a complex process that takes work; recovery is lifelong, and there is no quick fix or catchphrase that can cure anyone.
This article will shed light on why treatment centers love to use catchphrases against you to support their catch-and-release approach to care.
Let’s Face It: Addiction Treatment Is a For-Profit Industry
People in the mental and behavioral health care industry don’t like to admit it, but some people are in addiction treatment to make money. We’d all like to think that every single treatment clinic, wellness center, and rehab facility only opened doors to help people recover and live fulfilling lives; unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Curing people isn’t profitable. The philosophy seems to be that a customer who never needs to come back for a second or third go-around is lost business.
The addiction industry is estimated to be worth approximately 42 billion dollars, according to the non-profit organization Hazelden Betty Ford. In the United States, it’s estimated that there are 20.4 million people diagnosed with a substance use disorder and many more who aren’t yet diagnosed. That number is still growing. During the 2020 pandemic, there was an increase in poor mental health and addiction due to grief and isolation. According to data collected, positive tests for non-prescription fentanyl use rose as much as 50% during the pandemic. There was also an increase in positive tests for cocaine and methamphetamines.
Currently, there are over 14,000 rehab centers in the U.S. Not every rehab center and addiction recovery clinic only cares about profit, but there are enough where there’s an enormous concern. When a person is battling addiction, they are in a very vulnerable place. Well-meaning and even desperate people are looking for relief, needing to navigate this community. They’re also risking a lot when they enter a rehab facility. Some leave jobs and families behind to get better, only to get scammed by people with bad intentions.
How Some Rehab Centers Scam Their Clients
When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed, it was considered a win for the industry and people struggling with addiction who desperately needed treatment. The ACA required all private insurances to cover addiction treatment. Those with an addiction could finally get the help they needed. They didn’t need to pay out of pocket when they entered a treatment clinic. Money wasn’t an issue anymore. They could get treatment without worrying about the cost associated as yet another obstacle holding them back from much-needed care and relief.
While this law was, and still is, great in every respect, some people took advantage of what they saw as a get-rich opportunity. After the ACA was passed, hundreds of clinics opened, offering high-end “luxury” care. These clinics didn’t focus on actual treatment. The focus instead was on the business side instead of treatment. These clinics began charging inflated fees, offering nonsense treatments, and exploiting those with addiction for their insurance. Medical needs were ignored, care stopped being evidence-based, and many places offered absurd promises of getting better if and only if they spent excessive money.
You would think this wouldn’t be so easy, but it is. The main issue is that there isn’t any official federal oversight of the addiction recovery industry. There are no standards for best practices or expectations of care for residential treatment. Addiction centers are “accredited” by private companies. It really is the wild west. This lack of regulation only leads to people getting taken advantage of when they need help the most; for some people, that can mean a death sentence.
Why a For-Profit Approach Is Unethical
To put it simply, lives are put at risk. Addiction is literally a matter of life or death. Overdose deaths reached an all-time high during the 2020 pandemic when numbers reached 100,306 between April 2020 to April 2021, according to the CDC. That’s over 100,000 overdoses in only a year.
A for-profit industry also takes advantage of those legally required to seek addiction treatment. The judicial system often requires a person charged with drug possession or a DUI to enter a rehab program as a condition of their sentencing. Some workplaces are beginning to require treatment after a failed drug test to keep their job and return to work. These places will often refer them to a treatment center in the community or covered under their workplace health insurance, regardless of if these places practice evidence or science-based care. Even though their freedom and security are hinged on the expectation of successful treatment, there’s still a chance they are being sold a lie.
Businesses like this tend to drive authentic care out of the industry. People unwittingly fall for the advertisements and false promises these places offer. Trendy terms and images of smiling people spending time at an overpriced spa seem more enticing than traditional treatment. They also tend to tell you what you want to hear. They’re running a business, after all.
The most glaring ethical issue is that these businesses are taking advantage of people who are afraid of dying. They may have already experienced an overdose, financial loss, and broken family systems. They’re seeking care when these companies overcharge and push them into debt without doing anything that heals them.
Addressing the Ethical Crisis
Thankfully, a movement is growing to stop these businesses from exploiting people dealing with a real and deadly disease. Advocacy groups are working together to set a standard of expectations for the industry. There’s a push for science-based treatment and more licensed healthcare professionals in clinics. The goal is for addiction treatment centers to tackle addiction like they would any other illness: by using tactics that work. Accountability and standards of care can push the bad actors to the margins of the industry, leaving room for legitimate businesses and clinics to grow.
The primary concern, however, is the rate of change. We are in the middle of an opioid addiction crisis. The fear is that the industry isn’t changing fast enough. Millions of people are at risk of getting scammed, and there isn’t any accountability or consequence for selling something that doesn’t work.
The other issue is that not enough healthcare professionals specialize in addiction care. The stigma still gets in the way of professionals learning to treat addiction, leading to a significant shortage. The industry needs more training for doctors, nurses, psychologists, and therapists to specialize in addiction treatment, allowing for more science-based care.
How to Know When a Treatment Center Isn’t In It for the Money
Navigating the treatment industry can be tricky. If you aren’t informed, you might not know the good from the bad and spend thousands of dollars on treatment equivalent to magic beans. Thankfully, among all the red flags, there are green flags to look for too.
Treatment Is Evidence-Based
There are plenty of treatment centers offering therapy with absolutely no evidence that it does anything to improve addiction or mental health. A center might claim its treatment is evidence-based, even though no conclusive studies confirm this. Most evidence-based therapies tend to be industry-standard in both the addiction recovery and mental health industries.
Examples of evidence-based therapies include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family therapy, motivational interviewing, and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT.) While the addiction recovery industry doesn’t have a lot of federal oversight, federal agencies oversee the treatment and research of addiction. If a form of treatment is supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, SAMHSA, or the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol abuse, there’s a high chance that it’s effective.
Focus on Dual-Diagnosis and Underlying Conditions
If a treatment center ignores underlying medical conditions, only treats surface-level addiction symptoms, or doesn’t address addiction, that’s a major red flag. Addiction is often just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to treatment. Legitimate addiction centers should screen you for common mental health disorders immediately upon entry. Common mental health disorders that should be treated alongside addiction are post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. If they suspect you have a mental health condition that they aren’t trained to treat, they should refer you to another clinic without hesitation.
This is vital because underlying conditions can affect the effectiveness of treatment and become the cause of relapse later on down the road. If a person has PTSD, there’s a chance treatment might retraumatize them if the proper precautions aren’t taken. It’s common for people with undiagnosed mental health problems to self-medicate to cope with difficult symptoms. This shouldn’t be ignored.
Care Comes Before Profit
If a treatment clinic turns away a person they truly can’t help and refers them elsewhere, that’s a good sign. A clinic that is honest about who they can treat is a clinic to be trusted. The truth is, some places aren’t qualified to treat everything. That’s okay because at least it’s honest.
Treatment centers shouldn’t lie about whether or not they can help you. Their ability to give you care, and quality care at that, should be first and foremost. How much money they can make off of you should be the least of their concerns. They shouldn’t need to tell you what you want to hear in order to keep your business and your money.
Marketing Is Centered Around Treatment
Pay attention to how a clinic presents its business. Do they show people receiving care? Or is it just showing fancy spas and comfortable furniture? What seems to be the focus? Rehab clinics and centers will still present an image. Every single business markets an appearance, and that reflects on the type of care you’ll receive.
If a facility isn’t afraid to talk about doctors, diagnosis, treatment options, and actual care, then there’s a chance that the business can be trusted. If a facility seems like a great place to take a vacation, then it might be in your best interest to stay clear.
Staff Is Medically Trained
A treatment center should have information about its staff easily accessible. In fact, this is something they should showcase. Their team should be filled with people who are trained in the field they represent. There should be licensed therapists and psychologists, certified nutritionists, and people who know what they are doing.
If the information isn’t available, then this is something they should be willing to talk about. Don’t be afraid to call and ask them who works on their staff. If they aren’t able to give you a straight answer, or they don’t have people who are certified to help you, then you might want to look elsewhere.
They Don’t Pretend They Alone Have the Cure
There isn’t a missing element or magical cure for addiction treatment. One singular treatment center isn’t going to have the answer that everyone is somehow missing. Addiction treatment and recovery are more complicated than that. There are multiple factors, and what works for some people might not work for others. There are different approaches and focuses that work for some people but don’t work for others.
One person might find that focusing on spirituality, expanding worldview, and finding purpose is what they need to stay sober. Other people find that medicine-focused interventions work best for them. Some like talk therapy, some like group therapy, and others might prefer a mixture of different types of care and approaches. There isn’t a catch-all form of treatment. Every person has different needs, preferences, and ways of thinking.
They Don’t Make Empty Promises
A rehab center might make a claim that they can cure you after 90 days of treatment or that you are guaranteed to never relapse again if you go through their program. Empty promises are things that people make that either won’t be carried out, are worthless, or are completely useless. People often make empty promises as a form of coercion or manipulation. It can be a way of saying what you want to hear. It’s misleading, dishonest, and downright cruel.
An authentic treatment center will always follow up on its promises and won’t make any promises it can’t keep. As mentioned above, if it sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. Addiction treatment and recovery have been rigorously studied by scientists who are experts in their field. There are methods of treatment that are tried and true. Evidence-based and science-based treatment follows known facts. A random treatment center claiming that you’ll never experience relapse again if you go to their clinic is lying to you, especially if they don’t have the research to back up their promises.
The White House Recovery and Detox Difference
Unlike many for-profit treatment facilities, White House Recovery and Detox uses evidence-based practices that are backed by years of research. We understand that addiction is a life-long disease and the conditions that our clients are in when they seek treatment. This stage can feel vulnerable and intimidating, so our goal is to keep you as comfortable as possible while you heal and take back control of your life from addiction.
Unfortunately, some businesses in the addiction recovery industry can be deceptive. It’s hard for people to navigate the truth from the lies, especially when in such a vulnerable state. A person shouldn’t be exploited while in a life or death situation. They should be able to trust that the people they are giving their money to have their best interests in mind. Thankfully, more and more people are putting on the brakes on inauthentic care. This is a great thing for both people seeking addiction treatment and those willing to give people real, evidence-based care that actually works.
White House Recovery and Detox puts patient care over revenue, as improving overall mental health and well-being is our primary goal. We truly care about the people we take in and are dedicated to giving them the best care. For more information, call us today at (800) 510-5393.