Sobriety Is The Best Gift I Gave My Family

Counting My Blessings

I am a father, a son, and a brother, I have two daughters of my own. Funny thing being a son, as a son I just thought about what I wanted out of life, what was next for me. As I became a young adult, I never really thought about much more than that, I guess that’s just part of growing up. Now a days, I am father too, I have a 2-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old daughter. When I look at my daughters I see all of the amazing possibilities, my oldest loves science, has a great sense of humor, my youngest is just developing her little personality and interests, and man she is full of life. All I see is endless possibilities for them and it is very exciting.  I truly have a great life, I own a business and I love what I do, I make a good living doing it. I have cool hobbies and great friends. I can actually say I am living the dream! The life I lead today is better than I ever dreamed it could be 7 plus years ago, that’s for sure! I could list the gifts sobriety has given me and write paragraph after paragraph, however instead I am going to write a bit about the gifts my sobriety gave to those I love, particularly my father.

Looking Back…

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7 plus years ago, life was very different. I was heavily addicted to oxycodone, Xanax, alcohol, and crack cocaine. I was a father to my oldest daughter in no other way than title. She couldn’t count her dad for anything, no one could. It had been this was since I was 12 years old. It wasn’t so bad when I was 12, but it got worse as I got older. At 30, no one wanted to be around me and I for one don’t blame them. My parents were forced to watch as their son, whom they loved, destroyed himself and anything around him. Now as a dad of young children, I can tell you that when your kids are young their problems are mostly solvable by a hug and maybe a small consequence if a discipline is needed. But for the most part parents can step in and save the day, just as we want to. But as a child gets older they have to solve their own problems and learn to become an adult. Often time that’s when problems start to arise that parents all together can’t solve, addiction being one of them. I have yet to experience what it is like to watch one of my children suffer from addiction and stand by helplessly as they risk death or God forbid die. Just typing it here terrifies me. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my kids.

Cleaning Up My Act

So, 7 years ago, fearing for my life my parents, yet again, spent their hard-earned money to send me to treatment as I suspect they feared the alterative was a funeral. I went to treatment mostly because I was homeless and no one really wanted me on their couch anymore. It wasn’t until a phone call with my dad that I actually started to want to change. I called home feeling the obligation to check in since they were paying for treatment. We talked about the normal stuff and I began to tell my dad that I was doing well and things were different this time, all the stuff I thought he wanted to hear. He stopped me and said he really hopped that was true. There was pain in his voice, deep pain. He then went on to talk about how he missed having a relationship with me, how he had hoped that he and I would have had an adult relationship like he had with his father. He talked about his sister and how her children were doing well but most importantly were happy. He talked about after all his success he sat in his chair at night depressed because his children were suffering and he didn’t know how to fix it. The pain behind his voice cut like a knife. It brings me to tears to write about it, I can still feel the pain like a 1000 pounds of bricks on my chest. He deserved better, he was a good dad, he provided well, played with his kids, made mistakes as all parents do but cared and deserved better as he neared retirement. He deserved a son, a son that called to talk, that he didn’t have to worry about planning an early funeral for, a son that he could trust would be able to be there for him if he needed him, a son that he could think of and feel joy, not pain. It was in that moment that I decided my dad deserved better, I wanted to be that son. People will say you have to do recovery for yourself but that’s not my story. I did it for my dad and eventually I did it for my dad, my mom, and my daughter. Then finally, one day after over a year of doing it for others, I looked at myself in the mirror and for the first time liked who I saw and decided I was worth doing it for myself too.

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I can tell you this, I am not a perfect son, father, brother, or friend in sobriety, but my father has his son back. My daughter has a real father who shows up and loves her, when friends see me they want to spend time with me, I bring value to my friendships. Today I have my self back. You could look at my life and see the many overt gifts sobriety gave me: a nice house, a great career, cool hobbies like restoring classic cars or backpacking trips, but the best gifts I ever received in sobriety are the gifts that my sobriety gave to those I love. They gave a father his son back.

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Patient Brokers, Who’s Responsible and What Can be Done?: Part 1

By now I’m sure many if not all of you reading this are familiar with the terms “patient broker” or, “client broker”.  If you are not what the terms refer to is an individual who for a fee, paid by a treatment facility, will make a referral to that facility.  The way that this often works is that the broker “identifies” an addict in need of help, and then the broker starts calling treatment centers and negotiating a fee for placement.  These fees can be in excess of $5000 dollars per client. Thus referrals are made not based on clinical need, therapeutic fit, or really in any way meaningfully tied to the interests of the patient.  Rather these placement decisions are being made on the financial incentive for the facility and the broker. I want to spend a few minutes today sharing with you my thoughts on this problem and perhaps begin to describe a better way forward for our industry and our patients.

The Hydra of Our Industry

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Sly And Cunning

Patient brokers come in many different forms.  Many are individuals with no professional background in addiction treatment at all.  These individuals quite literally will troll 12 step meetings, local detoxes, and in some instances even the local skid row,  trying to identify individuals who are suffering from addiction and desperate for help. When they find somebody they approach them under the guise of being able to help them find treatment. Many represent themselves as working directly for treatment centers when in fact they do not.  They will assure the individual addict that they can get them help, that they can get them to a safe place, that they can help them get sober. When the addict, desperate for a new life, agrees to seek treatment, the brokers work begins. The broker will begin calling treatment centers.  Leading not with questions about the therapeutic validity of the facility’s work but with the insurance information. The most valuable are those with PPO insurance with out-of-network benefits. the line between this sort of activity end human trafficking seems murky to me.

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Not all patient brokers are this blatant, or have quite this level of amorality.  Many come in the form of professionals. Some are Therapeutic Placement Consultants, some are Interventionists.  Brokers of this stripe will charge a family anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars with the promise, again, of being able to help an addict to recovery.  After collecting money from the family and doing their work they turn around and “sell” the human being to the highest bidder. Often times in this sort of arrangement it is not on a per head basis.  Rather payment comes in the form of large year end “bonuses”. I know of one program that pays their “best” therapeutic placement consultant $50,000 at the end of the year. I try not to be a cynical person, but it is hard for me to see how a many thousand dollar payment would not influence placement decisions.   Many times these financial arrangements are not disclosed to the families of the addict. By not disclosing this information the family is not in a position to make a free and informed decision. I want to be clear that in no way am I alleging that all placement consultants or all interventionists operate in this way.  There are many highly competent, highly trained, and highly ethical individuals in both of these positions across the country. I have had the pleasure of knowing, and working with many.

The Buy-Side

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Bad Actors Ruin It All

The bad actors in the industry give anyone trying to do a professional job with high standards of conduct a bad name.  It would be very easy to just cast blame at the brokers and say that they are the problem. This, in my view, is not true.  They are without hesitation a part of the problem, but only a part. Another part of the problem are the facilities who work with these individuals.  In any transaction the “buy” side has as much culpability as the “sell” side. If collectively treatment centers refused to buy patients the brokers would have no one to sell to, and the problem would go away.  The persistent nature of this issue appears to be a reflection of an inadequate understanding on the part of treatment facilities of how to engage patients and their families in a meaningful way, how to create meaningful relationships with clinicians and other providers who are already engaged with the population of addicts.  In some ways it is a failure of innovation on the part of treatment facilities. As long as facilities continue to be willing to buy their patients there will be individuals willing to sell them patients.


Root Cause

I believe that the problem runs even deeper than these two aspects.  The true nature of the problem is associated with the stigma we as a community still have in regards to those suffering from addiction.  Many in our communities, in the face of the science attached, still want to believe that if an addict wanted to change enough they would.  As a consequence of this belief they view (often unconsciously) addiction as a moral failure, or a failure in character. As a result our communities are less concerned with how addicts are treated when compared to the care and concern we express toward other sufferers of chronic disease.  Can you imagine an oncology hospital “buying” cancer patients, or a memory specialist “buying” patients suffering from Alzheimer’s without public outrage? I have a hard time imagining such a situation. What then is the difference? All are chronic diseases, which cause massive destruction to the lives of the suffer and those tied to them by affection.  The difference, as stated above, is in the way society views these diseases. If we want to change the outcomes for those suffering from addiction we need to change the way, we as a society, view addiction. We need to end the stigma.


Moving Toward A Solution

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How do we move toward a solution?  The most immediate answer I see to this dilemma is to raise the bar of entry into the industry for professionals.  In any domain, a low bar of entry allows bad actors in. We need to adopt a standard of professionalism across the industry.  We need increased oversight and licensing requirements for those working in the field. By doing this we will make it harder for those with bad intentions to get in, we will be able to identify and stop them sooner, and will make it more transparent who can be relied on.  This will only happen when our industry demands it of ourselves. If we do this it will give us time to change the stigma attached to addiction. It will restore the public’s faith in us as a means of recovery for those suffering from addiction.

In the next part of this series we will be examining the proposed state bill in Arizona that is currently under consideration, and whether or not it will adequately address the problem.  In subsequent segments we will present interviews from each side of this issue. I believe that it is only in honestly facing a problem that we can begin to heal from it. We can and must do more.


Until next time
Your friend in service,
Rob Campbell
VP of Communications & Market Development

If you or your loved one is in need of help for substance use disorder please call us today @ 1.844.878.3221