Alcohol and drug addiction are a national crisis. Prescription painkillers, synthetic opioids like fentanyl, oxycodone, oxycontin, and heroin lead to the death of more than 115 Americans every day, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Similarly, about 88,000 people die every year as a consequence of alcohol abuse, which makes it one of the top leading causes of preventable death in the U.S. according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
New Mexico, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia have some of the highest numbers of drug and alcohol deaths throughout the nation with high numbers also being reported in Virginia, Arizona, and Florida. A new industry has emerged because of this epidemic, which was created to capitalize on the desperation of those who want to escape addiction. This has led to an abundance of poorly run drug treatment centers that focus on earning profits as well as hundreds if not thousands of unregulated sober living homes that are in no way competent to handle serious drug addictions. Drug-testing mills, unscrupulous patient recruiters, and health care fraud has also risen dramatically due to the increasing opioid epidemic.
Drug Treatment Centers
There is not a clear definition for drug treatment centers, and government oversight of such facilities varies greatly from state to state. There are two kinds of rehabilitation facilities, inpatient (or residential), and outpatient (or non-residential). Inpatient rehabs keep patients who are suffering from substance abuse for a set timeframe – usually from one week to three months or more depending on the addiction severity and the financial resources available. Non-residential treatment is for a set time during the day, after which the patient returns home each evening.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse outlines the principles of effective treatment, indicating that there is no single set treatment regimen that is best suited for all addicts. Instead, an effective treatment center should provide detoxification that is medically monitored, have licensed medical staff, employ counselors and behavioral therapists who are experienced in addiction medicine and have medication-assisted drugs like methadone that helps to wean individuals off harmful drugs. The program should include therapy and adequate follow-up care.
There are currently a wide variety of facilities and treatment centers that do not currently provide those services and do not conform to appropriate guidelines, and this lack of proper management causes direct harm to patients. These facilities often don’t perform proper background checks on employees, so they hire former drug addicts, felons, and sex offenders. These facilities offer little to no medical care, and trainees often perform therapy rather than actual counselors and therapists. There have even been reports of a California rehab center where the facility owner provided drugs to female patients so he could then sexually assault them. Providing counseling and quality medical care is costly, and unfortunately, many centers are choosing profits over patients.
Sober Living Homes
Usually located in residential neighborhoods, sober living homes are where addicts can live while they are getting clean. These sober living homes are supposed to be segregated by gender, prohibit alcohol and drugs, and provide residents with transportation to recovery support group meetings and treatment centers. However, in several states, anyone who can be a landlord can open up a sober living home. There are no required credentials for managers, and often, these are started by former drug dealers or recovering addicts themselves. Sober living homeowners or managers charge rent and then pay doctors to write the prescriptions for complex, expensive drug tests and then bill the patient’s insurance company as much as $6,000.
Sometimes the manager of the sober living home provides alcohol and drugs to the addicts to extend their stay. Substance abuse treatment centers sometimes pay sober living home managers or owners a fee to identify those residents who have private health insurance, and then refer them to their facility. Although this practice, referred to as patient brokering, has been prohibited in many states, it still happens often throughout the country.
You Have Rights
If you believe your loved one has been mistreated, injured, or neglected by a drug treatment center or sober living home, you should contact a medical malpractice attorney. The attorneys at The Trial Law of Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., are well versed specifically in claims against Los Angeles drug rehabilitation facilities, and will be happy to evaluate your claims to determine whether or not those facilities should be held liable for any injuries caused by them to you or your loved one. If you would like to speak to a Los Angeles attorney about this or any other type of medical malpractice, please call us to schedule a free case evaluation today.