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Addiction Treatment – Focus on the Wealthy

September 10, 2017 by Tailored Transitions  — Leave a comment


Let me start by stating that there is a tremendous problem with the lack of treatment options for the everyday person battling substance use and related addictive disorders. The average person suffering from addiction is either without insurance all together or they do not have the means to obtain an adequate insurance plan to cover the tremendous costs of a quality treatment facility.  It seems that quality professional care is reserved for those with financial means. In some cases, the individual’s loved ones are left covering the bill to send someone to rehab in attempts at saving their life. In the process, we see families over-extending themselves only to see the still suffering addict return to the same destructive illness. It is a problem. It is a problem. It is a problem. A problem macro level problem for another blog.

People see advertising for luxury rehab facilities that boast about their resort like facilities on beach front property and they get upset. Understandably so, as it seems everyone is susceptible to addiction, but only the elite class can afford to recover with the highest level of care. However, it is this author’s opinion that there is a lack of adequate treatment for the wealthy. Yes, we really need to focus on the affluent population struggling with addiction!

Recently, in a thread on Facebook I read a comment from an angry licensed master’s level clinician regarding the quality of services provided in some of some of luxury rehab facilities. The woman was employed at one such treatment facility and was expressing her concerns regarding the clients’ lack of accountability within the rehab, as clients were not required to make their beds, and would sometimes leave sessions to get pedicures or massages. She stated, “Treatment programs have to teach accountability…how can you learn accountability when you don’t have to make your F’ing bed!” And this author agrees wholeheartedly. Accountability is a necessary component in the process of recovery. Most clinicians working in treatment and individuals in recovery would likely agree.

The concern with accountability leads to many questions with the current treatment model within these plush rehab-resorts. If clients are lacking accountability with daily activities then how can they be accountable when it comes to more serious behaviors? Unfortunately, they can’t and they usually don’t. One might argue that these facilities don’t want the clients to succeed as the revolving door might create a steadier revenue stream. This author advocates for a more person-in-environment (PIE), live-in approach which teaches the everyday application of interventions.

“Hedonism should be replaced with altruism.”

Accountability, aside there are other serious core principles that are lacking with treatment models aimed at serving the elite class. At the heart of addiction, we see some common denominators such as: selfishness, self-centered, self-seeking, egocentric, and the constant longing for MORE.  Many believe that the substances are merely just a symptom of much larger ailment. Many in the recovery community feel as though selfless services is a key component to the process of recovery. Those that grapple with addiction are very much aware of the hedonistic lifestyle that leads to a constant yearning for more. Those that have recovered understand that part of the process to healing involves not only arresting the desire to take more, but the need to replace that with the desire to give more. Hedonism should be replaced with altruism.

If addiction is rooted in the greed, hedonism and selfishness, then we must examine ALL the ways in which a client is being influenced by these factors. Looking at it through this lens we can easily see that addiction bleeds over into another important area within this population. Money. With 1 % controlling 99% of the wealth, we see how greed, hedonism and selfishness are afoot. This population will never truly recover until they are taught that taking more will never fulfill that emptiness within. You cannot fill that void with money, power, drugs, sex, gambling, houses, fame, etc. You can try to supplement one for the other, but the end result is the same. You can leave the resort like facility with a fine pedicure, and go home to your mansion on top of the hill, but you will never fully recover from this disease until you discover the power of giving back.

This disease of addiction knows no boundaries. It cares not about ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, or socio-economic class. It runs through affluent communities and poverty-stricken ones alike. And when we examine the disease of addiction it may serve us well to think of it as anything that places us in a state of dis-ease.  This disease is not rooted in drug use alone. It wears many faces and infiltrates with no regard. It even impacts those operating the luxury treatment facilities. Yes, I’m speaking to those profiting off the $35 billion industry. You are taking money from a vulnerable population and you have an ethical responsibility to provide the highest level of services and assist people obtain the tools to sustain recovery. To profit off the sick and not give back to the needy puts you in the same greedy class as those you are serving, as you too, are focused on MORE. Teach your clients to give back to the community at large by setting an example through sponsoring those less privileged. Give back!

There are many biopsychosocial factors that contribute to the causes of addiction that can’t be covered in one blog. There are micro, mezzo and macro level systems at play. There are attachment issues that lead to a disconnect. To recover from this epidemic, we need to do this together. We need to be connected and attached to each other. We need to give more and remain altruistic. It helps us individually and collectively. It’s fine to offer services to the affluent, In fact, there’s a need for it. However, we need a shift in the model of recovery targeting that population. It should, if done correctly, serve the population at large.
Robert Freitas, MSW is the founder & CEO of Tailored Transitions and a therapist registered with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. He is graduate from the University of Southern California (USC) and holds a Master’s in Social Work with a concentration in mental health. Robert is a passionate member of the recovery community who is dedicated to supporting those struggling with addiction and co-occurring disorders through an integrated approach. He is leading the paradigm shift in treatment through his clinical coaching model which combines recovery coaching with therapeutic modalities.