When we talk about “treatment,” whether it’s in the context of a loved one’s addiction or addressing homelessness, we’re usually referring to traditional 28-day rehab—the “solution” of choice for insurance companies, policymakers, and desperate people looking for help. The problem is, 28-day treatment is one of the least effective methods to get people sober, leading to cycles of treatment and relapse that can cost patients hundreds of thousands of dollars without results.
I recently wrote an in-depth story about the growing consensus that 28-day rehab is the wrong approach. Check out the intro, then read the full story at HuffPost.
When Jessye first “graduated” from a 28-day treatment center outside Seattle, she knew she wouldn’t be able to stay clean. She became addicted to pain medication while dealing with endometriosis, and by the time she showed up at the doors of the private, for-profit rehab, she had been using Percocet for four years.
“When that got too expensive, I turned to heroin,” said the 34-year-old, who asked us not to use her last name out of concern that it might harm her professionally.
Fresh out of rehab, she was jobless, homeless and sleeping in her car, which was owned by an aunt. Then her family took away the car, because they didn’t want to enable her. After a couple of weeks, she started using again.
“I was really afraid,” said Jessye. “I really wanted to stay clean, and I really tried, but ultimately, they didn’t set me up for success.”
Addiction treatment is a big business. More than 2 million Americans spend a total of $28 billion every year on treatment at nearly 15,000 facilities across the country, according to the National Survey on Drug Abuse. About 12 percent of those opt for four-week treatment, which can cost anywhere from $10,000 to more than $30,000 a month. Many clients return multiple times before it sticks.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, two-thirds of people who go to treatment end up going back at least once, with 20 percent entering treatment five times or more. The money flowing through private treatment companies creates perverse incentives for treatment centers ― if treatment failed, patients and their families are told, it’s probably because the patient failed at treatment.
The solution? More treatment.
Read the rest of this story at HuffPost.