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4 Signs of Unethical Behavior in Addiction Treatment Centers [Updated May 10, 2019]
May 10, 2019
Many treatment centers want only the best for their clients. They are reputable providers that adhere to a strict code of ethics.
Some centers, however, seek only profit. They demonstrate unethical behavior in addiction treatment and in patient rehabilitation. Some take it one step further and violate the law. As opioids and other substance abuse continues to rise, it is important to know the signs of potential deceit, fraud, or worse.
This behavior is so rampant that John Oliver even covered the issue of unethical treatment facilities on his popular television show Last Week Tonight.
Let’s take a closer look at some forms of unethical behavior in addiction treatment centers. Here are 4 telltale signs so you can recognize what and where to avoid.
1. Misrepresentation of Services
Treatment centers should accurately represent the services they provide, the types of issues they treat, and the credentials of their medical and professional staff. Addiction treatment centers should also reveal all aspects of their facilities, locations and amenities.
This information should be available for prospective clients in telephone conversations, websites and in printed brochures.1 In all instances of information provided by a treatment center, the details should always be thorough and accurate. Treatment centers that don’t follow these rules could be misrepresenting their services.
2. Misleading Information
The physical location and types of treatment that are provided at each location should be clearly stated to prospective clients. The insurance types they accept and other basic information should be clear. This transparency applies to all forms of communication.
There are cases of centers using the internet and web advertising to make it appear that they provide treatment in many cities and states. In reality, their facility is in only one city or state. While the idea may be that they can help people from any location, it should not seem to individuals seeking treatment close to home that a facility offers treatment nearby when it clearly does not.
Also, a treatment center should not lead people to believe that their insurance will be accepted when it will not. Misrepresentation might include claiming or offering a program, amenity, or specialty which they do not carry. Misleading information could also include advertising that makes it seem as though one center is another. Any attempt at misleading clients is unethical and should be avoided.
3. Procuring Clients Illegally
In the healthcare industry, the referral or placement of a client for a fee is unethical as well as illegal in some states.2 This might be common practice in other fields such as financial services or real estate, but ethical people do not do it in healthcare. Since lives are at stake, clients should always be referred to a treatment facility or health care provider that will give them the best outcomes. Referrals should be made based on clinical specialties, facility and staff experience, client age, cultural aspects and other diagnoses. Any suggestion to the contrary or to use anything other than clinical diagnoses is a red flag.
4. Illegal or Unethical Behavior in Addiction Treatment in California
The State of California’s Department of Health Care Services regulates substance abuse treatment programs and facilities.3 They license all detox, residential and day treatment programs. The DHCS also certifies intensive outpatient programs.
The CDHCS looks into complaints on all of these types of facilities. They also investigate sober living homes that should be licensed or certified as treatment programs but are not. If treatment services are provided at a sober living home, such as counseling, psychotherapy or medical services, the home is considered a residential treatment center that needs to be licensed as such. If a sober living home bills insurance companies for care, it’s a signal they are, in fact, not a sober living home and should be licensed.
What Can You Do?
When seeking treatment for yourself or a loved one, keep the above precautions in mind. It is important to do your due diligence and research the facility you are considering. Look for any of the above issues or any other red flags that might stand out.
If you want to start winning your fight against addiction without going to rehab and without using 12 steps, then you can get your copy of Maximum Strength.
This best-selling book was recently re-released with stories from Ross Remien’s time as an addict and treatment specialist. Each chapter is a standalone lesson, so you can read them in any order and at any pace. Maximum Strength is your silent partner, helping you tap into your own personal strength so you can win your battle against addiction for good.
Order your copy today for yourself or a loved one struggling with addiction or relapse.