I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who doesn't work in the addiction treatment world this week, and she made the observation that it's strange to see people with no business training running successful treatment businesses. And, unlike the rest of the business world, this is definitely the majority of treatment centers as opposed to the other way around. The lack of business knowledge can be very detrimental to the treatment itself- when owners and executive directors are panicking about meeting the bottom line, the staff of clinicians and lower-level operations personnel can feel the panic. This isn't good for anyone, ESPECIALLY the patients, who can pick up on the tiniest weakness in their counselor and work to exploit it to their advantage. After all, addicts are the greatest manipulators. What we don't want is the option for addicts to basically be running their own treatment plan-- and when staff is in panic mode, they often can.
In these lean times, with unemployment rising and the economy not doing so hot (to say the least), more and more treatment centers are comprising their level of care, admitting clinically incorrect patients, and laying off staff in order to make the numbers work. What's sad is that even the most business-minded owners can't avoid this reality. Only a few of the treatment centers are running at capacity. And unlike the hey-day of the late 90s and early 2000s when people would take out home equity or other loans to pay for treatment, the credit has dried up and treatment centers are feeling the squeeze.
What we, as an industry, need to maintain is a sense of urgency. Every day we fight on the front lines of addiction. We help people change their lives, and see miracles happen every day. Some days, when the business doesn't make sense and it feels like we're not going to make it, we need to remember that we're doing some of the toughest work on the planet. We help dying people find a new light and a new LIFE. The more we help each other, as industry professionals, the better we all do, and we make sure everyone survives. So when someone calls in a panic, in need of referrals to keep the doors open, help. Because you never know when you'll be the person in need.
And as a follow up to my military post, the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Admiral Michael G. Mullen, said on Tuesday night that troops' mental health needs to be a priority. "I think we need to get to a point where everyone is screened by a competent mental health professional," he said. Check out the article on CNN here.
Here's a great video from Feliz Dennis, a former crack addict who now is one of the world's foremost publishers.
Here's something funny.
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