It’s time for better residential & outpatient addiction treatment centers in the U.S., especially for those with dual-diagnosis/mental health disorders!


As the mother of a recovering crack addict, I can speak from personal and painful experience of the need for better drug addiction treatment centers in this country.

While I am pleased to say that my 40+ year old daughter is approaching nine years clean and sober, my husband and I well remember the years and years of drug & alcohol addiction, of overdoses and near death experiences, of rehab centers, medical detox facilities, sober living homes and half-way houses. I feel well-qualified to say that it is high time that we, as a nation, need to address the substance abuse rise in a much more constructive and coherent fashion.

Unfortunately, our “story” is not unique. As a long-time active member of Al Anon (the 12-step program for family and friends of alcoholics and addicts), I have heard the same narrative over and over. How to find a treatment center that will work? How to find a treatment center that one can afford? How to transition from inpatient drug rehab centers to sober living facilities?

We, as families of addicts and/or alcoholics, feel it’s our obligation to save our loved one from his/her addiction. In our desperation, we so often get manipulated by our addict to believe that the problem isn’t as bad as we think it is, that if only we could pay their rent for the next few weeks/months, and their phone bill, car insurance, etc., etc., all will be fine. And because we so WANT it to be fine, we enable them to continue to sink further into the abyss.

Our daughter bounced from drug rehab to drug rehab, some of which were the “best” in the country (although I still don’t know what qualified as “best,” other than “most expensive”). We spent well over six figures in “helping” her when, what she really needed was a comprehensive addiction treatment center that could and would deal with her dual diagnosis disorder, her physical dependency on crack, and her emotional inability to function in society.

(As an aside, I should mention that she graduated from college, Phi Beta Kappa, and got a Master’s Degree before her addiction overtook her life – and ours.)

It’s imperative that chemical dependence treatment services be made available to all who need them and are ready to be helped. For too long, the shame of addiction has kept it in the shadows of health care. That must be stopped, NOW. Substance abuse is a chronic illness that must be treated by professionals, just as diabetes is a chronic illness that must be treated by professionals.

The “Just Say No” advertising campaign spearheaded by Nancy Reagan began over 30 years ago. Law enforcement has been working tirelessly to keep illegal drugs out of the United States. But still, many of our loved ones find it impossible to “Just Say No,” but find it increasingly easy to gain access to illegal drugs. While we continue to try to fight the war on drugs, we must simultaneously Increase the quality and quantity of drug treatment centers.

We are living proof that there IS hope. Our daughter is a productive member of society today, after many, many attempts to find a treatment center that was able to turn her addiction into a manageable illness in “remission.” We hope that it stays in remission.


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