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Ethical Practices and Addiction Treatment – Be Informed

Learning about ethical practices and addiction treatment can mean all the difference when it comes to getting proper substance abuse rehabilitation. When you are seeking treatment for an addiction, you want to be sure you are getting the right treatment. Unfortunately, there are a lot of unethical substance abuse counselors, treatment centers, and addiction specialists out there looking for a sucker. When you are ready to get clean or find treatment for a loved one, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not you’re dealing with an organization that practices shoddy ethics. Understanding proper addiction treatment ethics goes a long way in terms of avoiding fraudulent and ineffective treatment.

The Booming Addiction Biz

Those who have been addicted to drugs or alcohol understand that addiction is a costly endeavor. Not only is addiction financially devastating, it costs people their jobs, their families, and their freedom. Most people enter recovery from an addiction completely bankrupt – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and financially bankrupt. On the flip side, addiction is a very lucrative endeavor for a lot of people. When you stop and think about it, there are a lot of dollars flying around for people who aren’t even addicted to drugs. Whether it’s by incarcerating addicts for breaking the law or treating them for addiction, people and companies across the country are laughing at addicts…… all the way to the bank. Let’s just take a minute and look at who might be cashing in:

  • Lawyers who charge a hefty fee to provide legal services to addicts
  • Luxury treatment centers that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars
  • Bail bondsmen who help addicts get out of jail
  • Substance abuse counselors and addiction experts employed to help addicts
  • Phone companies who rake in millions of dollars in collect calls from prisons and jails
  • The Ramen company, which sells millions of dollars in ramen noodle soups to prisons
  • Privately owned jails and prisons, which make millions to incarcerate and punish addicts

The list goes on and on. Sure, addiction is costly, but so is recovery. With so many people, companies, and organizations receiving financial gain from the addiction industry, there is a lot of room for unethical practices and behaviors. Although you may not be considered with whether the Ramen company practices good ethics, you should be concerned that your addiction specialist does. With drug addiction trends indicating that more and more people are entering addiction treatment, it is quite possible that you or someone you care about could cross paths with an unethical treatment provider.

Ethics Defined

In order to understand ethical addiction treatment practices, we must first understand what ethics are. The Business Directory defines ethics as “the basic concepts and fundamental principles of decent human conduct.” This is a rather general definition, but it offers a good foundation for understanding what ethics are. Ethics serve as a code for right behavior. Although the words “moral” and “ethical” are often used interchangeably, this is a mistake. Morality typically relates to human behavior in daily living. Ethics specifically relate to business practices. An ethical businessman or woman follows a certain “code” in their professional lives, one that reflects honesty, integrity, honor, character, and credibility. Ethical people are concerned with doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do. Many people say ethics is doing the right thing when no one is looking. From an addiction treatment standpoint, there is a code of ethics for addiction treatment professionals. By learning what these ethics are – and how they are enforced – you can educate yourself and avoid falling into the trap of an unethical addiction treatment professional or facility.

What Unethical Behavior Looks Like

As most of us already know, there are a lot of unethical people and companies out there. These people are concerned with personal gain, not the greater good of man. Unfortunately, many recovering people begin sobriety by unknowingly checking themselves into a treatment facility that does not practice proper ethics. Although addicts in recovery are taught to practice honesty in their daily lives, they are often taught this principle by dishonest people. We have touched on a very basic definition of ethics, briefly discussed what ethics are, and identified where to go to learn more about proper addiction treatment ethics. To best understand ethical addiction treatment practices, perhaps it would be best to describe what unethical behavior looks like. Here are five common unethical addiction practices happening in the treatment industry:

  1. Improper credentials. In order for a drug and alcohol treatment facility to operate, it must be licensed and operated by licensed professionals. If a treatment center does not have the proper licensing and credentials, you don’t want to go there. You can ask anyone treating you for addiction to show proof of their right to practice addiction medicine.
  2. Bribery. If you can bribe anyone at a treatment facility to prescribe drugs, provide special favors, or perform any number of tasks, you are dealing with an unethical professional and you should report him or her right away.
  3. Patient Brokering. This is what happens when someone from an addiction locator service steers clients to specific facilities because they get a cash payment. Although this happens behind the scenes and is typically unknown to people seeking recovery, it is highly unethical. If you learn of an individual or facility guilty of brokering, you should report them to the state licensing board.
  4. Improper Billing. A lot of addiction treatment facilities practice poor ethics by overcharging clients for care or double-billing the insurance company. It is important to stay on top of the costs of addiction treatment so you or your insurance company doesn’t overpay.
  5. Sexual Misconduct. No one who works at a treatment center should ever engage in a sexual relationship with a client. If you are the victim of inappropriate sexual behavior or sexual harassment, report the perpetrator immediately.

Although this list is not all-inclusive it does explain some of the most common unethical business practices in the addiction treatment industry. When you are the victim of unethical addiction treatment practices, you feel violated. You have entrusted the sacred process of recovery to people who are concerned with the bottom line, rather than your well-being. This is unfortunate. Don’t be a victim. If you experience or observe unethical practices by an addiction specialist or treatment facility, notify the state licensing board and take action. Have you ever been the victim of unethical treatment practices? If so, share your experience: