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Where the battle for an ethical industry must be won

Dallas Treatment

Recently, Google announced that it would no longer sell a multitude of ad words common to the drug and alcohol treatment industry. Ads linked to searches such as “rehab near me” or “alcohol treatment” were pulled overnight. Citing “a number of misleading experiences” as one of the reasons for cracking down on treatment center advertising, Google also reported they were influenced by advice from NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, who themselves have been joining the fight against unethical marketing practices.

As a treatment professional, I applaud the efforts both NADAAC and Google have taken to protect those most vulnerable among us. Unethical marketing practices are not the only unethical practices happening in the drug and alcohol treatment industry but addressing the problem is a good start to bringing back overall health and ethics to a profession that claims to have a client’s best interest in mind at every turn. It was this atmosphere that lead me to coin the phrase Transparent Treatment as a core value of our organization at Casa Colina. Get rich quick schemes are everywhere but there is no such thing as a get cured quick solution. Lasting recovery and effective treatment take patience, excellence, and dedication. And there are times when what a client truly needs is not going to help your bottom line.

On the heels of this announcement was also an article that appeared in the Boston Globe that covered the Cape Cod Symposium. It’s an interesting viewpoint from an outsider of the industry. What catches his eye first is that the silver sponsor of the conference had recently been raided by the FBI—not the best look for the industry I suppose. The rest of the article is mostly a reflection on how the treatment industry is coping with the new-found notoriety that comes with publicized scandals.

As I was reflecting on why such unethical practices run rampant in our industry I was struck with my own humanity. I’m no stranger to financial fear, a desire for fame, and a need for security. And aren’t these the seeds from which unethical practices grow—sprouting into giant trees of dishonesty and greed watered by the secret rain of justification and deceit? Surely there are those that get into the industry planning to be crooked from the start but I think most owners and operators engaging in unethical practices got into the business to help others—but were slowly, or quickly, tempted and overtaken by the seeds of fear and ambition we all experience.

This is where the heart of fighting unethical practices lies, I think. Not with a “good guys” vs “bad guys” mentality, where those believing themselves righteous band together to bad-mouth the “bad guys” while simultaneously patting ourselves on the back for being better-than. Rather, the best way for me to fight unethical practices is to look inside myself, recognize those seeds of fear and desire and need, and to confess them to my brothers and take them to God. To surround myself with a personal community and a professional staff that is also willing to be vulnerable in their brokenness and to hold me accountable as well. The fight for an ethical industry surely must be fought out there, and the halting of Google ads is a good start. But I can’t help but think the battle will only be won in here—inside each of us—as we create a culture of cleaning our side of the street and welcoming back those who come to us to confess and ask for forgiveness that their fear and greed got the better of them. Only then can we all begin to walk in the light together.

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