The Treatment Industry Largely Ignores Families

Hope for Families TV, Treatment, Why I Do What I Do | 0 comments

Welcome to episode #5 in my “Why I do what I do” series!

So, I’m wondering, how much do you know about the treatment industry. If you’re like most families that I’ve worked with, you probably know little, if anything.

That leads me to reason #5 why I do what I do.

I do what I do because I get contacted by treatment providers all the time requesting that I link to something on their site.

I don’t provide backlinks to treatment programs because I’m not able to vet them adequately and I don’t want to look like I’m endorsing any of them. That said, when I get a request like that, I always check out the treatment center’s website. And the thing I look for on every site some kind of meaningful programming that supports the whole family. Like, ideally, they would have some sort of family programming, too.

But out of the scores of requests I get for a backlink on my site, only one of the treatment centers actually had legitimate family programming. With a couple of exceptions, the rest of them had absolutely nothing, not even info on their website, to support families. The two exceptions simply had a very superficial article on enabling. And like I said, I’ve been contacted by scores of treatment centers.

And that begs the question, if they don’t do anything to support families why are they reaching out to me?

I can tell you why. They are reaching out to me because they are looking for two things:
One is fairly innocuous: They want backlinks to their sites to improve SEO rankings.

The other is a little cringey: They want to make families aware of the existence of their facility, because outside of insurance, by and large it’s families who pay the treatment bills.

But treatment facilities are rarely transparent about what they do and their success rates. In fact, I’ll be doing a post, probably in November on a report that Hazelden Betty Ford published in June about their success rates. That report is very opaque – you really have to read between the lines and look at what they’re not saying – and this is from Hazelden Betty Ford. And the figures displayed in that report are curious at best.

Furthermore, when families get to the point where their loved one is truly willing to accept treatment, the situation is soooooo precarious. And it’s precarious for a number of reasons.
When someone with a substance abuse problem admits they have a problem and they want help, families have a VERY SMALL WINDOW in which to act, before their loved starts walking back that admission that there’s a problem and retreats back into denial. So family members need to take action fast. That’s going to happen the minute the admission leaves their mouth.

It’s often a serious crisis that compels someone abusing substances to admit they need help. And this crisis is likely traumatizing family members just as much as it is the loved one abusing substances. The more stress a person is under, the more the amygdala – the fear center in the brain whose sole job it is to keep us safe – the more amygdala is going to shut down the prefrontal cortex. This is the area of the brain we use for logic, reasoning, and making decisions.

But consider this: the average cost of 30-day residential treatment in the United States is over $42,000.

This means that family members end up in a situation where they’re making an extremely high-stakes decision in a situation in which they have very little time in which to act, they don’t have all the information they need or even know what questions to ask, and their brain isn’t fully online.

I do what I do because I want to help family members prepare themselves ahead of time, so they are prepared, they have all the information they need and they know what questions to ask.

And this is so important, because as cringey as the relationship between treatment centers and families can be, these treatment centers have to operate within a really flawed and deficient health care that is by and large driven by market forces.

Given that family members are one of the primary for treatment centers, I believe if the treatment system is going to change, it’s going to be because family members demand it. I do what I do because I want to empower families to make those changes.

So, I’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts? Drop a comment below or email me at


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