Protecting Your Clients: How to Sniff Out Bad Referral Sources for Addiction Treatment

Treatment

The Attorney General of Massachusetts recently issued a consumer advisory concerning addiction treatment facilities in Florida, California and Arizona—addiction treatment facilities that put a great deal of time, money and effort into recruiting addicted individuals but that offer very little in the way of quality treatment.1 Rather, these disreputable treatment centers bill clients’ insurance providers for services they may or may not offer, as well as for unnecessary and frequent drug testing.

When a patient arrives in your office with signs of a substance use disorder, connecting them with high-quality program options is crucial for successful recovery. But it can be tough to sort through the roughly 15,000 treatment centers in the U.S. and determine which referral sources are reputable and which are just out to scam people who are often at the very lowest point in their lives.

Here, then, are three essential ways to sniff out bad referral sources to ensure you’re sending your patients to high-quality programs with proven track records for success.

1. Look for accreditations.

Accredited treatment facilities have undergone extensive evaluation by a respected, third-party accrediting body. A literature review in the Annals of Saudi Medicine found consistent evidence that accreditation improves treatment outcomes and helps programs improve the quality of the treatment they provide.2

CARF International and The Joint Commission are the largest accrediting organizations, and a green light from either of these organizations ensures that a facility:

  • Employs staff members who meet strict educational and licensing requirements
  • Uses research-based treatment therapies and adheres to the industry’s best-practices protocol
  • Meets high standards for safety and therapeutic interventions
  • Meets strict standards for operations and management
  • Provides culturally sensitive programming to a diverse client population, including minorities, LGBT individuals, non-English speakers and the elderly
  • Offers a safe, healing environment for recovery

In addition to CARF and The Joint Commission, organizations to look for accreditation from include the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program, Council on Accreditation and International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium.

2. Find holistic programs.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration stresses that a holistic approach to treatment is essential for the best possible outcomes.3 There is no single pathway to recovery, and a variety of therapies should be employed to help individuals address a wide range of problems and issues from a variety of angles.

A holistic program will include both traditional and complementary therapies. The most commonly used traditional therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which has been shown through a large body of research to be highly effective for treating addiction. Complementary therapies that have been shown to be effective when used along with traditional therapies include art therapy, nature therapy, restorative yoga and meditation.

3. Ensure individualized treatment.

Individualized treatment plans are crucial to successful recovery. Reputable treatment programs will create a personalized plan for each client, based on the client’s unique needs and problems. Bad referral sources will use the same treatment plan for all clients, with no variation for different client needs. No single treatment is right for every individual, and successful recovery depends on a program that specifically addresses a wide range of personal issues.

Identify Bad Referral Sources for Addiction Treatment

A Little Legwork Goes a Long Way

Spending some time vetting a variety of both local and out-of-state treatment facilities and compiling a list of reputable, high-quality programs will make it quick and easy to refer patients to treatment when the need arises and avoid bad referral sources. Having a variety of programs to choose from can help patients find a reputable program that accepts their insurance and offers programming that meets their unique needs and preferences.

Addiction is a serious but treatable disease that affects all aspects of individuals’ lives, including their relationships, finances and physical and mental health. Taking the time to find high-quality programs for treatment referrals will help ensure successful long-term recovery for your patients who are struggling with addiction.


References:

  1. http://www.mass.gov/ago/bureaus/hcfc/the-health-care-division/consumer-advisory-scams-addiction-treatment-.html
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3156520/
  3. https://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/PEP12-RECDEF/PEP12-RECDEF.pdf