So many people across the country are suffering from the disease of addiction and have nowhere to turn. Waiting lists make immediate treatment impossible at times, and California is one state in which this has become a major point of concern. Oftentimes, addicts call dozens of facilities, hoping to be admitted, and then get put on a month long list. Unfortunately, a month can be too long for the addict who needs immediate treatment. The results can actually become life and death situations.

The team at Footprints Behavioral Health recently attended the CCAP Lunch and CE Event in Santa Monica, which addressed these issues, and potential solutions and plans of action were discussed in depth. Here are some of the important points and highlights of this powerful and constructive seminar.

1.There are 23 million Americans who needed treatment for addiction in 2012. Only about 11% received such treatment. This is a catastrophe. There are several reasons for this. One reason is because there is only 25 hospitals in California that are licensed to provide SUD services, and only 9 of those are chemical dependency hospitals. Another reason for the lack of treatment options for recovering addicts is because of the social stigma surrounding addiction and the lack of concern on the part of many lawmakers to address the issues.

Some solutions that were laid forward in the seminar included propositioning loans and grants through the DHCD (Department of Housing and Community Development) for more recovery treatment centers and lobbying for more funding and local hospitals to include more detox units so there is an increase in bed availability for addicts going through acute withdrawals.

2.There is a problem in recruiting and maintaining substance abuse counselors and medical personnel. And estimated 1 out of 4 substance abuse counselors choose to leave the profession every year, and there are less than 20, 000 certified drug and alcohol counselors in the state of California. Furthermore, their competency levels are unknown, and some are often subpar in their profession. The pay is very low for some of these counselors, averaging about 40, 000 per year. Finally, many “interventionalists” and other counselors do not have certification requirements and are therefore unregulated.

Some solutions proposed at the seminar included increasing the salary, coupled with a 20 percent reimbursement rate for staff expenses. This would incentivize more substance abuse counselors to stay in the profession. Secondly, there must be more campaigns and incentive programs to entice people into the profession and keep them employed for longer periods of time. Finally, there should be an avocation for cutting out the cost for those wishing to be licensed addiction counselors.

3.The payment system for addiction treatment lacks accountability. Insurers are oftentimes sending checks to addicts to receive treatments. These can be up to 50 thousand dollars. Many addicts don’t lack the stability or will to avoid using this money for drugs, so the cycle of addiction continues. Also, interventionalists are getting incentives or “kickbacks” for signing up patients, so there is corruption Finally, recovery residences are unregulated which leads to subpar treatment practices and unqualified counselors.

Solutions proposed included removing the direct pay from insurers to clients so they could not be tempted to use that money on drugs, tightening up regulations for recovery residences and monitoring these facilities more rigorously, and requiring all drug and alcohol counseling centers to be certified so there is more accountability in the treatment process.

4.The stigma associated with addiction prevents proper recovery treatment. Though addiction is better understood by the general population and medical community to be a disease, there is still a stigma attached to addicts and alcoholics. Because of this, many addicts seek to avoid finding treatment for fear of being fired, found out by friends and family, or being labeled an “addict” by the community.

In order to remove the stigma associated with addiction, there must be a relapse prevention plan in the budget of California, which would help the public accept the validity of treatment plans and facilities. If less people are relapsing, then more people will be willing to take addiction treatment and funding for it seriously. Other solutions include laying out campaigns in youth and foster centers against drugs and alcohol, and continuing to educate the general population about addiction as a disease and the methods in which it can be treated.

The CCAP Lunch and CE Event was hosted to advocate for the C-CARA benefits legislation, which is a package of legislative efforts to assist in treating, preventing, and managing the disease of addiction in the state of California. This legislation, if passed, will save the state hundreds of million dollars by preventing the need for more public safety, and will reduce incarceration rates due to addiction related causes. If passed, this measure will also reduce the cost of health care treatment for addiction by lowering the amount of emergency room admissions for addicts in withdrawal, while decreasing the overall negative impact that addiction has on child welfare and the juvenile justice system.

Footprints Behavioral Health was honored to attend this function and hopes that the suggestions and proposals set forth by the committee and legislative activists will result in more addicts getting the treatment they need, while reducing the overall financial and public safety costs that addiction so often causes in our state.

Do you struggle from an addiction to drugs and alcohol? Are you having trouble finding a facility that will treat you or a family member? If so, contact Linda Rose at Footprints Behavioral Health. Call 949-556-4723 today in order to get started on your roadmap towards recovery.