Since I published my blog on what I am doing to improve the quality of rehab and detox treatment services across the UK, I have received many messages of support and lots of other examples where addicts have been ripped off by poor services from private rehab and detox across the country. I have also received more examples of addicts receiving poor treatment and – in some cases – alleged abuse from the provider I referenced in my last blog.

Unfortunately, when raising an issue like this – which was never about one provider, but about all the rogue rehab and detox providers that are operating without regulation – there will be those who side step the issue to focus on personal attacks. In my experience, this is just a way of avoiding the issue raised and the problems we need to solve together. Unfortunately this has happened with this issue. Since publishing the blog I, and others who have written to support me, are experiencing personal attacks, including threats and intimidation. Threats have been made by the head of Pathways House in Canterbury – highlighted in my last blog as an example of bad practice – even to people who have just commented on the post. As well as this, social media ‘trolls’ are inciting their supporters to further attack me. Despite my anger about these attacks, I will not lose focus on the issue I was raising. For a reminder of that issue please read the initial blog:

http://markdempstercounselling.com/blog/rogue-detox-and-treatment-facilities/

I would like to say what I have done since this blog. First of all, I am in discussion with the government, service providers, and rehab/detox clients, which have been overwhelmingly positive. They support my plan to improve or remove the rehabs and detox centres that do not meet the standard of care expected of them. Providers and ex-clients are telling me their stories and sharing what they feel should be done to ensure the sector gives a reliable recovery service, versus the hit and miss quality that is currently in the marketplace. Every case that has been sent to me as an example of bad service, whatever the provider, has been handed over to the right authorities. Where there are accusations of abuse, these have been reported to the police. Where there are threats made to me or others supporting this cause, I have done the same.

However, the attempt to derail the discussion with personal attacks is a minor point within the wider issue, but one that I felt needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. There is no problem to debate an idea, which I am happy to do, and my points to improve poorly performing detox and rehab centres are open to everyone to mould and make into a real, and achievable, goal. What does not help is when the idea is ignored and those that support it are being bullied to leave the issue alone. I hope this message today will attract even more supporters (and debaters) who may be sitting on the side-lines to get involved and make a difference. We need to keep pushing the issue to get the government’s attention and turn our ideas into policy.

For detox and rehab providers, counsellors, and clients; the news of improving the standard of care is welcomed, but how well does the UK population at large know about the impact on the UK from people who are chemically dependent?

What is at stake:

The UK needs to continuously address and improve their rehab and detox treatment services because it impacts the people (addicts and their community) and the economy. NICE local government briefings published “Tackling drug use” (http://publications.nice.org.uk/tackling-drug-use-lgb18/introduction) which showed how drug users are hurting the UK, and it is probably much more than you thought!

Stopping people using drugs can save money by:

  • The government’s Drug strategy 2010 reported that drug use costs the UK economy £15.4 billion a year.
  • Reducing the crime associated with drug use (estimated at £445,000 over the lifetime of someone who takes drugs).
  • Many acquisitive crimes (including theft, burglary and robbery) are committed by people whose drug use has become an addiction. Their offending often escalates to keep up with the rising cost of their drug use. Some also support their drug use with low-level dealing or prostitution.
  • Reducing the overall number of people who take or who inject drugs (the cost of providing health services to someone who injects drugs costs an estimated £35,000 or more over their lifetime).
  • Preventing the transmission (and subsequent treatment costs) of blood-borne viruses.
  • Reducing the number of attendances at accident and emergency departments (and subsequent hospital bed-days) for injection-site infections.

The reason for my campaign to improve rehab and detox centres is from my understanding of treating people with addictions. Quite often, you have one chance to get it right. When someone reaches out for help and has the desire to change their circumstances you need to be ready, capable, and follow through. If a person needs rehab or detox, this is a starting point to recovery, as it is most often a long term healing process. By allowing substandard rehab and detox services to operate, we are destroying the key foundation for ensuring long term success for many people suffering chemical dependency. From there, the addict often returns to their dependency and loses years, decades, and even their life to the disease whilst continuing their destructive path within the community and economy.

If the UK public knew the numbers behind addiction, as shown above in the NICE briefing, we would have a much more focused approach to treating this disease to ensure that the services we trust are top notch. As they say, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. We may think that saving money on treatment is wise, and this is understandable, since the cost is easily measured and reported year by year. What we do not get enough of is the cost of treatment qualified by the savings gained from each addict in recovery.

Please share this message with other addiction professionals, rehabs and detox centres, ex-clients, and across your broader network of connections. We need to promote the problem at hand, what it is costing us in the UK, and work together on making progress on treatment services.

In the meantime, I will rise above the personal attacks from rogue rehabs such as Pathways House in Canterbury and the corrupt and criminal behaviour of their managers and owners. I suggest everybody that supports this issue does the same.