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August 2013
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Treatment and fraud

CNN has a pretty powerful investigative series on California’s dysfunctional treatment system:

Over $185 million per year of state and federal money goes into California’s drug rehab counseling program, much of it lining the pockets of unscrupulous clinics who pay people $5 to sign in (or simply invent clients).

While each state has a different system, the fraud and abuse in treatment is a national problem as the treatment industry has become a hugely lucrative business (try doing an internet search for “drug treatment” or “drug rehab” to see just how large this industry is), with lots of taxpayer money to tap and tons of “addicts” who are required to go through treatment because of their involvement in the criminal justice system.

Yes, there are legitimate treatment centers that are doing good things, but there are also a ton of programs sniffing out their chunk of the cash.

Every week, I’m approached by some unscrupulous person or group who wants to use Drug WarRant to increase the search engine rankings of a treatment clinic or referral site. These are in addition to the ones that show up in the Google ads on the right (I’m not involved in choosing those). They want to supply me with an article of my choice that they’ll write for the site, in exchange for an embedded text link to their site, or an infographic, or simply that they’ll pay me to stick a text link in one of my posts.

Since Drug WarRant has excellent google rankings, they’re looking to take advantage of that link power for their rankings. I always turn them down (or simply ignore them). They’re as low a form of life as spammers.

The treatment industry needs vastly better regulation. It alo needs to have the drug war end, so that treatment isn’t so heavily tied to the criminal justice system.

And then, we need to have a serious conversation about the kind of treatment we provide for people, and take a good hard look at harm reduction and maintenance therapies as an alternative to ineffective coerced cold-turkey methods.

[Thanks, tensity1]

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26 comments to Treatment and fraud

  • Howard

    The drug treatment industrial complex is yet another unfortunate metastasis of the drug war. I grew up in south Florida in the ’70’s. There was a drug treatment facility known as The Seed (search ‘the seed florida drugs’ or ‘art barker the seed’). Some friends of mine were taken to The Seed because of their drug ‘problems’. I had a close call with possibly being admitted myself when my friends told Seed staff members that me and another friend huffed paint. I’ll never forget my mother asking me about it. The look on my face was so genuinely incredulous that it was obvious I was not lying when I said, “No, I don’t huff paint”. My mother even looked embarrassed after asking me. People admitted to The Seed were encouraged to tell about their friends drug use (real and imagined) so they, too, might be admitted. And why? Was it to save us from ourselves? Uh, no. The Seed received government funding. Filling cots and chairs was the objective to increase the bottom line. The Seed was eventually closed due to seriously questionable ‘therapeutic’ practices. It’s worth looking up and reading what those practices were.

    That today, various abuses in the drug treatment industry are still ongoing is no surprise to me. The drug war corrupts EVERY institution related to it. Yet another reason to end the…well, you all know.

    • DdC

      I lived in the rural area of central Florida in the mid 70’s to late 80’s, and have heard of the Seed. I believe if memory serves or if I can find it. Charlie Christ belonged to it and some speculated he was brainwashed by it into more draconian treatment places. Probably not as bad as it is with Calvina, Mica and McCullum, with Bob Barr and Newty across the state line in Georgia. Or Jeb Bush and his drug thug Bill “Mary” Janes. I enjoyed some very tasty pot and the town I was in didn’t have a problem with it. We had a designated pot dealer and the deputy toked. I would see 8 cars backed up waiting for a bag and the cops rode past without stopping. Sinsemilla and Gainesville michmacon? was some of the best I’ve ever smoked. I miss the swamps and beaches and lakes but not the rednecks. Seems as if Bush really screwed the place up. I thankfully was in a blue oasis in a sea of red. Spanish Moss dangling, gator’s croaking and mole crickets. Wild bulls and domestic cows with the purple ring shrooms, then play poker. Good stones in the day.

      Calvina Fay Prohibition

      Betty Sembler elected to Florida Women’s Hall of Shame, uh Fame
      On Monday, January 5, 2009, Florida Governor Charlie Crist inducted Betty into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame for her work at Straight, Inc. and for her service on the board of the Florida Governor’s Mansion Foundation. Betty’s son Brent, who is vice chairman of the Sembler Company, was Finance Co-Chairman for the campaign of state Senator Charlie Crist. He also served on committees for the election of Charlie Crist for Florida Education Commissioner, for Crist’s bid for Florida’s Attorney General and for Crist’s gubernatorial campaign. It was son Brent who inspired Mel and Betty to found Straight when, as a teenager, they placed him in The Seed (Straight’s predecessor) which was accussed by the US Senate of brainwashing kids. There is even speculation that Charlie Crist was in The Seed with Brent.

      THE TRUTH ABOUT STRAIGHT, INC &TEEN CHALLENGE
      Kids Helping Kids began as Straight-Midwest and over time was incorporated into Pathway Family Center (owns/owned 4 known programs). Pathway Family Center was founded by Terri Nissley, a “satisfied” Straight, Inc. cult parent who wants to continue in the torturing and brainwashing kids for profit industry. Kids Helping Kids (a Pathway Family Center program) has closed or is closing according to recent reports. Closing after years of protesting against fraud, abuse, and torture at the Milford, OH location.

      Anti-Drug Campaigns Dumb Down Vital Message
      Calvina Fay is the Executive Director of Drug Free America Foundation and Save Our Society From Drugs (S.O.S.) From 1976-1985 it was known as Straight, Inc. and had a reputation for abusing kids as a drug rehabilitation program. Mel Sembler and his wife Betty founded Straight, Inc. In 1985 it changed its name to Straight Foundation, Inc. in order to protect its money and its principals from civil suits. In 1995 it was changed again to Drug Free America Foundation. DFAF is a national and international drug policy think tank and provider of services for drug free work places.

      • Uncle Albert's Nephew

        Straight, Inc. was started by Melvin Sembler who was a Seed parent after the Seed shut down IIRC. Sembler is Now Calvina Fay’s boss at DFAF.

      • Howard

        There’s an ironic twist going on in Florida. Orlando attorney John Morgan is one of the driving forces to get medical marijuana legalized in the Sunshine State. Former Governor Charlie Crist is employed at his firm. This has got to get the Semblers a little irritated. Good.

        http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/morgan-medical-marijuana-about-morality-not-politics

        I don’t know what it is about that state. The Semblers and Calvina Fay in Tampa. Kevin Sabet at the University of Florida. A prohibitionists paradise or something?

        But I can’t cast too many stones in that direction. I live in Texas. Not exactly a hotbed of drug policy reform. But I’m working on it.

  • This one leaves me fish mouthing. Between 1996 and 2012 the number of Californians in “treatment” for naughty substances fell 7.235%. The California population also increased 19.334% in that same time frame.

    http://wwwdasis.samhsa.gov/webt/quicklink/ca96.htm
    http://wwwdasis.samhsa.gov/webt/quicklink/ca12.htm

    In 2000 California voters adopted Prop 36, The Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_36_%282000%29

    That law requires those people convicted for 1st and 2nd offense drugs possession to be placed in “treatment” instead of incarceration. (Hmm, was SAM watching?)

    Now you’re telling me that the numbers should be even lower because there’s a cohort of people who aren’t in need of “treatment”?

  • divadab

    While I was gathering signatures for I-1068 (a failed 2010 cannabis legalization initiative in WA), the most static I got came from a woman who loudly monopolized my space with a diatribe about her bad experience with marijuana and how it’s terrible for teens, causes amotivational syndrome, lower IQ, and on and on. When she paused for a breath, I asked her what she did for a living. She responded – “I run a drug rehabilitation program for the County”. “Ah!”, I said, so you make your living from prohibition – no wonder you are against ending it!”

    She went away. And soon all these self-serving frauds will also go away and have to make an honest living.

  • darkcycle

    Nice catch by Clay at FB. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001457513002315
    “The highest risk of the driver being severely injured was associated with driving positive for high concentrations of alcohol (≥0.8 g/L), alone or in combination with other psychoactive substances. For alcohol, risk increased exponentially with blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The second most risky category contained various drug–drug combinations, amphetamines and medicinal opioids. Medium increased risk was associated with medium sized BACs (at or above 0.5 g/L, below 0.8 g/L) and benzoylecgonine. The least risky drug seemed to be cannabis and benzodiazepines and Z-drugs.”

  • Jean Valjean

    “Government officials who try to root out fraud clash with weak regulations, bureaucratic apathy and corruption in their own ranks. Once open, bad clinics rarely are shut down. CIR and CNN identified a dozen clinics caught cheating the system that not only remained in business, but also were rewarded with more public funds.”

    No wonder government oversight is failing: government bureaucrats charged with regulating treatment centers are on the same, drug war dependent, criminalizing payroll and don’t want to rock any boats.

    • claygooding

      I wish there was some way we could get the percentage of federal employees that depend on the war on drugs continuing and just how large a reduction in force ending the drug war would cause. Impossible to estimate because every bureaucracy that receives funding from the ONDCP has a crew of workers that make sure their policies fall within the guidelines of the ONDCP’s purpose for giving them funds.
      I am sure that the NIDA and NIH have a huge crew that keeps those billions of dollars flowing to the right people,,,when they aren’t having employee conventions in Vegas.

  • Jackie Jormpjomp

    “I always turn them down (or simply ignore them). They’re as low a form of life as spammers.”
    There’s an Oasis Rehab ad next to this on my IE page,and on the comment page there’s a Stopmedicineabuse.org ad.

    • Those come directly through Google Ads and I have no way of controlling those. I hate having them show up in the ad spaces because, quite frankly, my readers have no interest in treatment centers (so I don’t get any click revenue). I’d do much better with ads for circuit city, etc. – standard ads. I can block advertisers in those ad slots, but I have to do them individually, and I’ve blacklisted hundreds of treatment places, yet there are thousands more.

  • DdC

    Religious drug treatment in Texas

    Over the door of one church-based drug treatment center in Houston, a sign printed in foot-high letters announces: “Drug Addiction Is NOT a Disease. It’s a Sin.” At another, clients pass by a poster of an addict in a hospital bed, ripping IV tubes out of his arms and throwing his pills in the garbage. An angel hovers nearby, offering her protection from this plague of prescriptions.

    And at a Christian young adult home in Corpus Christi, police recently took the unusual step of arresting a supervisor after teenagers complained that they were beaten and roped to a bed, all in the name of Christian discipline. More arrests are anticipated, authorities say.

    These are some of the results–expected and unexpected–of Gov. George W. Bush’s “bold new experiment in welfare reform.” With his conviction that religious groups can transform lives in ways government can’t, Bush sponsored laws in 1997 that allow churches to provide social services their own way, outside the intrusive glare of the state.

    Calvina Fay Prohibition Inc.

    Kochroach & Aleech*
    * Drug Detention Centers

    Legalizers, Common Sense & Wrong Dollars

    Slavery: Another Fine Product Still Made in the USA

  • claygooding

    “Medical Marijuana Blues” by Cheech & Chong
    from Cheech & Chong’s Animated Movie! Musical Soundtrack
    itunes.apple.com/us/album/cheech-…vie!/id619847819
    Buy the CD at: http://www.CheechAndChongAnimated.com

    Listen below

    https://soundcloud.com/cheech-and-chong/medical-marijuana-blues

    • War Vet

      I got the great chance to see Cheech and Chong back in November of 2010 . . . pot keeps them a rock’n and looking great for ancient hippie beings like them. That scallywag, Gil K looks a lot worse for his age . . . Dave’s not hear.

      • allan

        I caught them in 1972 at ENMU, Portales, NM. A college crowd w/ a large contingent of stoner GIs (me), Cheech and Chong had us in stitches.

  • Jean Valjean

    OT
    Peter Christ of LEAP doing an excellent job of destroying the drug war…try to ignore the incredibly crass female news presenter who hasn’t got over the giggle factor yet when it comes to “pot”
    http://www.alternet.org/drugs/watch-retired-police-captain-destroys-every-drug-war-myth

  • War Vet

    OT: A bunch of embassies will be closing down this weekend or longer because of a heightened security risk from terrorism . . . got to love drug money . . . the best source of funding a very long war and international threats. Thank you DEA and local yocal cops etc –you’ve been a big help to Al Qaeda and jihad via the consequences of the war on drugs. When I’m old and talking to my grandkids high of good legal weed, I’ll be telling them about the time when the average American cop, judge, DA, Fed etc were Muslim Terrorist Sympathizers –simply because cause and effect is a biatch. My next bowl will be for all the 9/11 victims and dead U.S. troops etc murdered by the Department of Justice.

  • Servetus

    Anything as corrupt as prohibition will corrupt everything connected to it. ‘Fruit from the poisonous tree’ is the common legal idiom. Strict regulation of rehabs is expensive and difficult, making regulation unattractive to politicians who already hate spending money on mental health, or any other kind of health that may not make money for Big Pharma.

    A percentage of rehabs in the U.S. promote 12-step religion and/or authoritarianism as the means to end a person’s drug use. Mental health professionals in the U.S. typically see anti-authoritarianism as a sign of some mental illness, or behavior disorder, while authoritarians and authoritarianism get a free pass.

    If someone’s initial drug use is a consequence of being physically or psychologically abused by authoritarians, then subjecting an anti-authoritarian to authoritarian-based drug treatment is going to backfire in big ways. Failure is certain. In authoritarian cultures like those found in America, there’s no reason to believe anti-authoritarians are always wrong or always mentally ill—they may be exceptional, rational, knowledgeable people responding to the irrationality and hypocrisy to which they’re exposed.

    In a better world, prohibitionists will be forced into rehab to rid them of their paternalism and authoritarianism. Tools for the task will include science, logic, and cult deprogramming. It’s time to dump the drug scapegoats and focus on the real threats to society.

    • jean valjean

      how id love to see kev and calvina court ordered to a prohibitionist deprogramming facility

  • dag800

    Do a search for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition LEAP

    • Windy

      dag, we are ALL, here, VERY familiar with LEAP, many (if not all) of us donate to it (among other reform orgs).