Be Thankful

There’s a fight on for funding at all levels of government. Human services, the umbrella that addiction treatment falls under, is getting a hard look with the idea of saving taxpayer dollars and helping ease the deficit. Those involved in addiction treatment are understandably nervous. But as bad as it might end up being, a story out of Mexico really tells us we ought to be thankful for what we have.

Each of the addiction treatment centers listed on this site (and similar sites) undergoes some degree of certification. There are state regulations and inspections from time to time. While a treatment center does, indeed, need to make enough money to stay in business, most are staffed with employees who have the training and the heart to really help the addict in need.

Taking a peek South of the border tells a different tale.

On January 25, 2011 a group of agents from Mexico City’s District Attorney’s Office responded to a request from the the Mexico City Human Rights Commission. This request was for them to go to the rehab center for recovering alcoholics — Aprendiendo a Vivir (Learning to Live). They were shocked at what they found.

There were seventy-two men and three women being kept in a room measuring 16 feet by 16 feet. That’s right, three women as well. In these overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, many of them actually had to sleep on top of other people. All were in poor health, and suffered from dermatitis, with some having lesions on their skin.

Many of the people said that they were being held there against their will. They were somehow being charged 250 pesos (about $20) a month to stay there along with a fee for room and board.

The agents rescued the people and took them to a special District Attorney’s office for medical and psychological care. And they arrested the president of the so-called rehabilitation center, Luis Genaro Garcia Alvarez, 32, and one of the other employees, Juan Carlos Hernandez Luna, 30. They were charged with kidnapping.

This extreme example of addiction-for-profit makes me thankful for what we have in the U.S. Still, the watchword should remain: Before entering any treatment center, it is a good idea to visit there and do your homework, looking at success statistics, and checking out whether there have been any complaints about the center.

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