Thursday, July 1, 2010
Searching for Addiction Rehab
The perils of online rehab finders.
CALL NOW FOR HELP, say the sites designed to assist people in locating addiction treatment services in their area. But when you call that 800 number to speak to a “rehab counselor,” chances are you end up getting a sales pitch for a specific for-profit chain of rehab centers, rather than an objective survey of all available resources and how they might fit your personal needs.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that the simple act of reaching out for help, for pertinent resources, is sometimes perilous online. Everybody’s got something to sell, it seems. Few sites offer objective information in detail, without special pleading of one sort or another. Even Scientology, working under the alias of Narconon, has its own rehab register, featuring the 120 drug and alcohol centers operated according to the principles of that well-known expert on drug and alcohol problems, L. Ron Hubbard.
One workaround is to stick with government sources. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) has a decent one HERE. But even government rehab finding pages are one-size-fits-all affairs, and sometimes suffer from a lack of regular updating.
Recently, the All About Addiction (A3) website has rolled out a new rehab finder with some nice features that should go a long way toward filling the gap. Adi Jaffe, the site’s director and the motivating force behind the creation of the new rehab finder, is working on his PhD in Psychology at UCLA. Jaffe’s original idea for a call center gradually morphed into a plan for an online tool. In an interview with Addiction Inbox, Jaffe expanded on the rationale for putting together a rehab finder he believes addresses some of the shortcomings found on other sites:
“I decided to put together the rehab finder because I thought it was sad that with all the technology we have, the best way to find treatment was either to do a general Google search (cue paid ads by providers that charge a lot and can therefore pay for advertising) that results in lists upon lists of providers, or go the SAMHSA treatment locator, which only searches by location,” Jaffe explained in an email exchange. “I thought we could do better. I believe that if we can make it easier for people to find the right treatment we will increase enrollment in treatment because people will find treatment they can afford, and improve treatment outcomes because the treatment-client fit will improve.”
A further refinement is represented by a 20-question survey. Questions about gender, employment status, health insurance, and mental health are designed to narrow the field of pertinent recommendations. Detailed questions about drug use, including amount spent per month, are also included. What the new rehab finder does NOT ask for is your name, your phone number, or your e-mail address, as other such sites commonly do. So there is no danger of follow-up sales calls or spam.
“For the most part, we don’t match people based on the treatment approach (CBT, MI, 12 step, or others), that’s been tried and failed – there seems to be little difference and we don’t know how to match there yet,” Jaffe said. “What we do is match on gender, age, insurance, mental health status, specific addiction specialty, and other factors like the need for detox, or specific treatments for specific drugs (like buprenorphine for heroin).”
Jaffe is now seeking funds for a study of the new finder’s effectiveness. “I’d like to set up a few different versions (including a location-only search like SAMHSA’s) and see if our version works better,” he said. “It also lends itself to constant improvement based on the actual results obtained.”
As the A3 site says: Rehab is hard. Finding it shouldn’t be.
Graphics Credit: http://www.gentiva.com/