Investigations shake confidence in treatment centers

Sep 05 2017

Investigations shake confidence in treatment centers

Addiction treatment centers are supposed to be places of hope and recovery, sanctuaries where people feel cared for and supported so they can enter treatment with confidence.

But a recent string of investigations found some treatment providers are putting their own interests ahead of their patients’ needs, sparking patient and family concerns about their quality of care.

A scathing report by The Boston Globe and online medical publication STAT recently uncovered problems at two Recovery Centers of America locations in Massachusetts. The Globe and STAT say staff allegedly neglected their patients and failed to provide adequate care or support services.

The following is an excerpt from the Boston Globe article:

“At a company that promotes itself as the new frontier of addiction treatment and charges an average of $24,000 a month, some patients were not getting basic counseling. They were often unsupervised. The staff has complained repeatedly to management and the state that they weren’t able to keep the patients safe. And patients were found to be having sex.”

For their part, Recovery Centers of America denies the allegations and said, in part, that many of the claims were made by disgruntled employees “who acted in a coordinated manner.”

But the Massachusetts case isn’t the only recent investigation to shake patient confidence in addiction treatment providers.

In Florida, multiple investigations from several major news outlets have uncovered a culture of fraud in which clients are seen as money-makers first, and patients second. Reports from NBC and the Associated Press reveal a multi-billion dollar treatment industry in which some facilities looked to keep clients dependent on drugs so they could continue to bill their insurance companies for thousands of dollars. Investigations by law enforcement have lead to fraud charges for some providers who duped clients into thinking they were receiving quality care while failing to meet basic standards.

While the Massachusetts case appears to be an isolated incident and the Florida cases show a more systemic problem, they are in no way indicative of how the larger treatment industry cares for patients. Still, the reports have understandably upset those looking for treatment and those in recovery who know how important trust is to the recovery process.

The issue becomes amplified when you consider the limited resources many people have available when seeking a treatment provider. Those with few financial means, sparse internet access, or limited transportation options may not be able to do significant background research before choosing a facility, or may only be able to attend the closest treatment provider because they can’t reach any others. That lack of agency on the part of treatment seekers makes industry-wide integrity a crucial issue in helping people begin the journey of recovery.

Upstanding treatment providers are surely appalled by the actions of the few rotten apples, but it is also up to them to offer the information and transparency necessary for clients to feel confident in their decisions. When it comes to people seeking treatment, particularly for opioid addiction, trust in providers can mean the difference between life and death.