Handful of Biased Journalists Threaten Treatment Industry's Good Work Says CRC Health Group, Nation's Largest Behavioral And Addiction Treatment Provider

Sep 27, 2012, 22:22 ET from Robert Weiner Associates and CRC Health Group

Oped in Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly October 1

CUPERTINO, Calif., Sept. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- R. Andrew Eckert, Chief Executive Officer of CRC Health Group, the nation's largest provider of behavioral health and addiction treatment services, issued the following statement today, portions of which are in an oped in the October 1 issue of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly.

The full statement follows:

Handful of biased journalists threaten treatment industry's good work

By R. Andrew Eckert, CEO, CRC Health Group

We have seen a recent uptick in one-sided reporting by media outlets that are either misinformed about the successes and difficult challenges of the treatment field, have no interest in balanced reporting on these important issues, or are using old and outdated information.  CRC Health Group in particular, the nation's largest provider of behavioral health and addiction treatment services, has been the subject of a disproportionate number of these reports.  And while this increased attention on addiction and treatment would be welcome if it were to raise awareness about this devastating disease, the unfortunate reality is that these media inquiries are spurred by our nation's upcoming presidential election, an exaggeration of CRC's connection with one of the candidates, and the continued stigmatization of addicts and treatment.  

Some recent media articles have attempted to politicize what CRC does and have accused CRC of "putting profits ahead of patients."  This is just not true.  The truth is, having for-profit, investor-owned treatment centers is a positive thing for our country.  Unlike many non-profits or single-owned facilities, we have the geographic breadth and financial stability that enables us to continue to provide these necessary services, even in challenging economic times.  As a result of our structure and access to capital, our programs are more insulated from state and local budget cuts or economic downturns. Our structure also allows us to invest significant dollars on patient quality, even when the general economic environment is stagnant.  We have developed reporting metrics, implemented new treatment methodologies such as the Provita program for opiate abusers, and deployed a new clinical supervision model across the country.  Finally, our for-profit structure and corporate ownership allow us to attract leading industry professionals to manage and carry out services, and give us an opportunity to identify and address unmet treatment needs in underserved parts of the country.

CRC has worked hard to set a high standard in our industry, providing the highest quality care and scientifically based clinical practices, actively investing in these areas, over and above any state, federal or industry mandated standards of care.  Our size and scope are incomparable assets that have allowed us to:

  • Be the only provider in this field to have a team of over 20 people solely dedicated to clinical quality, who visit every facility and conduct comprehensive reviews of clinical practices, delivery of services, systems, operations, and policies and procedures, and make enhancements wherever needed.  This includes developing policies and procedures beyond those required by governing bodies, incorporating staffing requirements, diversion control, medical supervision and more.
  • Reinvest in the development of superior clinical programming by sharing best practices and peer-developed solutions across our nationwide network of facilities. 
  • Collaborate with the leading experts in this field, other providers and therapists to identify the latest evidence-based treatments. 
  • Utilize a Clinical Advisory Board of established behavioral health industry experts to provide guidance as we develop a cutting-edge treatment delivery system that encompasses the latest innovations and research, our own "CRC Treatment Model."  This model follows that the primary clinical principles that drive excellence are a client-directed, outcome-informed treatment philosophy, and a data supported belief that the therapeutic alliance is the most important single element of a positive treatment outcome. 
  • Deploy a Clinical Supervision System that was personally implemented by the leading expert in this field. 
  • Implement a Clinical Outcomes Management System and a new system for administering patient satisfaction surveys that capture timely and candid feedback from our most important audience. 
  • Have a Vice President of Quality who conducts weekly quality meetings with the field to discuss and disseminate best practices. 

As a result, CRC is a recognized leader in the treatment field and has ranked in the top facilities for overall best practices by the MHCA (Mental Health Corporations of America).  These attributes have been detailed to each and every reporter who has sought comment from CRC, yet none have included this information.  These reports also routinely fail to mention that our clinics are regulated by each state, CSAT, the DEA, and accredited by CARF, layers of oversight that exist to protect our patients.

Some journalists have chosen to focus on anecdotal reports of incidents in our facilities and falsely extrapolate to a conclusion of declining quality.  But the reality is that the addiction treatment field is increasingly dealing with more medically complex and highly compromised patients.  While very unfortunate, incidents do happen within this field of health care, one that treats a population of people who are at the ends of their ropes, in the depths of their despair: troubled teens, patients with alcohol and drug abuse addiction, co-occurring mental health and drug and alcohol issues, sometimes suicidal, most in denial, and many untruthful to themselves, their families, and us about preexisting medical and mental health conditions. 

Some media have chosen to focus their criticism on incidents that occur outside of our facilities, when patients, under the supervision of doctors, take their medicine home for administration of doses, despite the safeguards that we put in place such as lockboxes and patient accountability checks and contracts.  Our mission is to help these individuals, but sadly, we cannot report 100% success.  No treatment provider can. 

The media often fails to mention that the overwhelming number of patients do experience significant success.  Extensive industry outcomes research indicates that the majority of clients live better lives as a result of completing treatment; people can and do get better.  Although there are myriad success stories, the articles regularly bury the fact that the vast majority of our thousands of clients, after treatment, have repeatedly cited quality of care, understanding of their addiction issues, and improved family relationships and trust in patient surveys and satisfaction scores.  Journalists rarely interview any of the number of referrals provided by CRC who have positive experiences.  Instead, the articles rely extensively on "survivor" organizations that criticize youth treatment or drug and alcohol programs across the board, critics with no first-hand knowledge of the events they purport to describe, and the selective republication of erroneous information from earlier media articles. 

It is a fact that treatment organizations are prohibited by law from discussing specific cases or patient care, while other sources and family members making allegations have no such restraints.  The occasional article that does mention such privacy regulations does so in a way that implies that treatment providers hide behind this language so as not to have to publicly discuss patient incidents.  In actuality, these regulations are to protect our clients, every individual who enters our doors to get the treatment they so desperately need, who can take some comfort in this time of great distress knowing that their confidentiality is assured and trusting that it will never be revoked. 

Several journalists who have written about CRC and treatment began their reporting with biased perspectives, specifically soliciting only critics of treatment programs to be sources.  Even when independent third-parties – law enforcement officials, security agents, licensure representatives of state health or drug and alcohol departments, and more – tell a reporter that there is no substance or wrongdoing in a particular situation, the reporter presses on, "hungry" for the scoop. 

CRC treats 30,000 people every day, yet this is just the tip of the iceberg when considering this nation's treatment gap of people who need but do not receive treatment is over 20 million.  The consequences of non-intervention are disastrous: drug abuse costs the nation tens of thousands of deaths and $400 to $500 BILLION a year in hospitalization, lost productivity, and prison terms.  We need more, not less, treatment options.  When the media criticizes one provider because that sells newspapers or increases web hits, ignoring all of the positive aspects of treatment and lambasting our outcomes research, they are perpetuating the stigmatization, condemnation and discrimination of the entire treatment industry, with likely ramifications on millions of lives.

The bottom line is that CRC has long been helping individuals and families, addressing the enormous national drug crisis and helping people to lead better, more productive lives.  For the sake of the future availability of high-quality treatment options – and for the sake of those struggling with this uncompromising disease – I encourage the media to learn more about addiction and behavioral health rather than tearing apart treatment providers, and dedicate their journalistic talents to promoting increased treatment options to help, not hinder, the lives of millions of desperate Americans. 

Contact: Robert Weiner/Richard Mann 301-283-0821 or 202-306-1200 weinerpublic@comcast.net

SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates and CRC Health Group