Monday, November 17, 2014

Sobriety Can't Be Bought


High hopes for recovery were put to rest as a body bag was all that returned. Brandon Jacques, a 20-year-old struggling with alcoholism and bulimia, relapsed and died of cardiac arrest under the supervision of a rehab center called First House. After finding Jacques on his bathroom floor with blood flowing down his mouth and his eyes rolled back, his parents had decided to send him to A Sober Way Home, an expensive rehab center. He then lived at Morningside Recovery and without his parents’ knowledge, he had been transferred to First House. Morningside Recovery received a kickback (a portion of income) for Jacques’s transfer to First House and his life was hanging in the balance of a business transaction. Jacques’s family was financially well-off and had the ability to send their son to an expensive rehab center because they felt he would become clean with “special” treatment. They, like many Americans, were victim to a common misconception that spending an immense amount of money on rehab can cure an addict’s addiction. In fact, in the United States, the relationship between expense and quality of rehab is inversely correlated. The more expensive treatment is, the greater chance a patient has of relapsing due to the quality of treatment they are receiving.
“Lindsay Lohan Off the Wagon - Again! Just Months After Rehab!" It’s quite likely you’ve encountered an article like this before. I myself have recently noticed how much of a spotlight the media shines on celebrities and their struggles through rehab for addiction. The word “again” always seems to appear when celebrity relapses are spoken of, which is why I’ve questioned why celebrities are consistently rechecking themselves in those unbearably expensive Malibu and Los Angeles rehab centers. If the common factor among all of these celebrities is wealth, are their addictions really incurable or do they pose a lucrative business? Rehab programs have established a $35 billion industry in the United States. This figure is a result of the middle and upper class of America spending tens of thousands of dollars per month for the “special” treatment that the for-profit organizations that dominate the industry offer. They are being sold amenities rather than the actual process of rehabilitation. The amenities are what this "special" treatment entitles, but Rehabilitation is no place for special treatment because it prevents addicts from grounding themselves back to reality.
In the short clip of the Vice documentary above, when asked about the differences in treatment for addiction among class differences in society, addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky says, poor people “might be better off”. His argument seems to be derived from the fact that executives of these expensive rehab clinics prey on the families of wealthy addicts seeking help in their most vulnerable state. For-profit organizations are being forced to sell their patients on their treatment due to the growing competition around them. Due to being profit-dominated, the rehab industry is so far separated from the advancing medical industry that holds the key to effective treatment. As their patients are addicted to various substances, the executives behind these organizations are addicted to a drug as well - money. This drug makes them ignore the true purpose of their establishments, which is to actually help their patients.

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