One dad’s crusade to save his daughters from addiction
October 9, 2019 7:46 PM Subscribe
There are treatments that work, but rehab facilities don’t have to use them. One family learned that the hard way. Michel estimates that he spent about $200,000 on treatments for his daughters over the next decade. His itemized tax deduction for “drug treatment facility and therapy” totaled $82,350 in 2009 alone. Most of the treatment facilities his daughters attended rejected evidence-based treatments and practices, but Michel — like many parents and loved ones — didn’t realize that at the time.
Walled off from the rest of the American health care system, the rehab industry has failed to meet the same standards as other medical providers. Regulation, primarily by the states, is lax, letting facilities offer care that doesn’t meet rigorous scientific or clinical standards. Even though addiction is widely understood to be a medical condition that requires medical treatment, it’s still not often treated as one — with rehab facilities sometimes not employing even a single nurse or doctor.Vox is investigating addiction treatment in America. This is the second story.
Once Michel’s daughters received medication-based treatment, they got better. Unlike many costly treatments, studies have found that medication can be effective in helping patients overcome addiction. And it’s frequently far less expensive. Both daughters are now in recovery: the older for more than two years and the younger since early 2019.
Michel is not alone. As part of The Rehab Racket, Vox’s investigation into the US addiction treatment industry, hundreds of people have reached out through our survey to share their stories about spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on addiction care only to receive inadequate or even damaging treatment — all in the middle of an opioid epidemic killing tens of thousands of Americans each year.
Among the many responses, there are success stories that make clear that recovery from addiction is possible. Treatment, when evidence-focused and accessible, can help.