How Private Rehab Facilities Are Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap in FloridaAnna Ciulla
Roughly 21 million Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Only one in ten of these Americans will actually get the treatment they need, however, according to widely accepted findings. Consequently, every year some 19 million Americans go without help for a treatable disease, suffering unnecessarily when they could be finding freedom and recovery.
In Florida, as in most other states and regions around the country, this treatment gap can be explained by a number of factors. An alarming opiate epidemic, accompanied by a dramatic rise in deadly overdoses related to opiates and other prescription drugs, is one factor. Yet there are other factors, too, that when addressed, are helping to close the addiction treatment gap—not just in Florida but elsewhere.
This article is therefore the first in a series that will evaluate states, starting with our home state (Florida), on the basis of their rates of drug and alcohol abuse and overdose and what is being done to close the addiction treatment gap. What follows is firsthand information about how the treatment and recovery community in Florida, led by private providers like Beach House Center for Recovery, is making strides in closing the addiction treatment gap in our state. You’ll hear from expert Micah Robbins, a community substance use prevention leader and recovery advocate. Robbins’ involvement in the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition gives him a strategic vantage point from which to talk about how private providers are closing the treatment gap.
But first up: how Florida ranks next to addiction “hot spots” in the country—regions with the highest rates of substance abuse—with respect to key addiction and treatment criteria. Read on to find out….
Drug Use, Addiction and Overdose Rates – How Florida Ranks Next to Other States
Like other areas of the country, Florida is facing an unprecedented public health crisis in the form of opiate and prescription drug fatalities. Last year Governor Rick Scott declared the situation a state of emergency—and it is easy to see why. In terms of sheer number of drug-related overdose deaths, a 2014 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report said Florida had more overdose deaths than any other state. California, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York followed close behind, placing (in that order) among the “Top 5.”
Florida is also one of the most populous states in the Union, however, which means that a per capita evaluation provides a more accurate picture of the state’s drug use, addiction and overdose rates. In this respect, Florida did not make the “Top 5” list of states, in a more recent collection of addiction data by state. The five states that did qualify on the basis of having the highest per capita rates of death from overdose were:
- West Virginia (ranking as the worst offender)
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
When state population density is factored into an evaluation of its drug use and addiction rates, then, Florida is not in the top five or even ten states with the worst per capita overdose fatalities.
Nor is Florida the biggest state mecca for drug abuse, according to the same source. In this category, the Top 5 rankings for states with the highest percentage of adult drug users reportedly are as follows:
- Colorado (ranking as the worst offender)
- District of Columbia
- Rhode Island
Unmet Drug and Alcohol Treatment Needs – How Florida Measures Up
A helpful infographic from Addiction Blog shows how Florida measures up next to other states when it comes to unmet drug and alcohol treatment needs. Consider, for example, these eye-opening statistics from 2012 regarding Florida’s addiction treatment gap:
- Almost 14% of Floridians (age 12 and older) got the drug treatment they needed.
- Roughly 10% (age 12 and over) got the alcohol treatment they needed.
These stats, admittedly a bit dated, suggest that Florida’s addiction treatment gap for alcoholism is on a par with the national average, but that Florida may in fact be outperforming other states in closing the treatment gap for drug abuse in particular.
In other findings, 2014 treatment admissions data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) showed a decrease in treatment admissions from roughly 50,000 in 2013 to roughly 33,000 in 2014. Compared with the other four regions of the country, the South Atlantic region of the U.S. (which Florida is a part of) saw the second highest rate of treatment admissions in 2014.
Closing the Treatment Gap in Florida – How Beach House and Other Private Providers Are Involved
Closing the addiction treatment gap in Florida and other states involves a number of strategies. A guide from the National Institute on Drug Abuse lays out at least four:
- increasing access to effective treatment
- achieving greater insurance parity
- reducing the addiction stigma
- raising awareness among patients and healthcare professionals about the value of addiction treatment
Beach House has been active in all four of the above areas, as one among a small group of trusted private treatment providers in South Florida that are working to meet the urgent demand for treatment, both locally and on a state and national level. Thanks to input from Robbins in an exclusive interview with Beach House, the sections that follow provide key information about how we are enacting these four strategies.
Expanding Access to Effective Drug and Alcohol Treatment
One of the ways that Beach House is expanding access to drug and alcohol treatment is by offering treatment scholarships to needy recipients. A case in point: our “12 Days of Giving” initiative that provided 12 young people who could not afford it the opportunity to undergo detox and stabilization in the direction of recovery from opiates.
Beach House’s generosity is not uncommon among local rehab facilities, according to Robbins, who noted that roughly “one out of ten beds is a scholarship.”
Beach House and other local rehab facilities have also been working closely with state and local government and law enforcement officials to clean up bad treatment practices. As a result, bad apples in the treatment industry have largely been weeded out, leaving prospective clients and their families with greater peace of mind about the prospect of going to treatment.
Achieving Greater Insurance Parity
With the institution of the Affordable Care Act, national health insurance providers are now required to provide coverage for drug and alcohol rehab services. The intent was that carriers like AmeriHealth can now better assist the people who are most in need of substance abuse treatment, but sometimes insurance companies have been known to refuse reimbursement to families in need of addiction treatment. That is why Beach House is careful to stay in close touch with the insurance companies it works with and to be in strict compliance with their various policies. Learn more about how Beach House handles in-network vs. out-of-network coverage during the admit process.
Reducing the Addiction Stigma
Robbins was optimistic about what has been achieved in reducing the addiction stigma. He credited this progress to a number of things: among them, the sharing of inspirational stories of people in recovery (rather than just the bad news) and educational initiatives through partnerships with respected public institutions like the Palm Beach County Medical Society and University of Florida.
As an example of these sorts of public-private partnerships, Robbins cited the “Stand Up to Addiction” gathering that recently drew more than 500 representatives from South Florida’s treatment and recovery community in one public show of solidarity on behalf of people suffering from addiction.
Robbins summed up the growing public sentiment in our community this way: “Addiction is an everyday occurrence and an actual health issue, and if you don’t talk about it, you won’t have your loved one with you.”
Raising Awareness Among Patients and Healthcare Professionals Re: Value of Addiction Treatment
Through their involvement in the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition, Beach House and other providers have done trainings in several hospitals in order to raise awareness about the value of addiction treatment. Robbins said that where Beach House has been “incredible” has been in the area of hosting town halls and live Facebook events that raise public awareness about evidence-based treatment practices that are associated with better outcomes.
How the Marchman Act Is Helping to Close the Treatment Gap
When treatment is exclusively the option of the person suffering from addiction, their refusal to undergo treatment can be another impediment to closing the treatment gap. Florida’s Marchman Act allows spouses and blood relatives to legally petition the courts to mandate treatment for a loved one with addiction. Get more details on the Marchman Act.)