The Businesses Behind Getting Clean Must Clean Up Their Act
Going into addiction treatment should be about getting better. But in some corners of the rehab industry, it seems that entering a facility actually makes things worse. These treatment facilities promise safety, security, compassion, help, and hope. And that makes it feel all the more like a betrayal when these businesses can’t deliver on their promises.
A series of investigative reports written by Dana Gentry and published in the Nevada Current shows how deep the problem really goes for drug abuse rehab in Las Vegas.
The Suit That Started It All
A 2018 article uncovers the death of 23-year-old Cody Arbuckle in a drug abuse rehab in Las Vegas. After 19 days in the Solutions Recovery residential program, Cody died due to loperamide toxicity, the coroner’s report determined. Loperamide is a chemical found in the anti-diarrhea medication Imodium AD. Arbuckle’s mother, Kathy Deem, subsequently filed a lawsuit against Solutions Recovery and Solutions Treatment in 2018. These facilities were owned by American Addiction Centers, or AAC.
According to the suit, Solutions was neither licensed nor adequately capable of providing the treatment they advertised. It further alleged that the company hired intake workers who were insufficiently trained and paid them on commission, knowingly accepted clients beyond the scope of their care. They neglected to check on Deem’s son for 14 hours, even though he was supposed to be under 24-hour surveillance. Deem’s suit against Solutions Recovery also revealed that Arbuckle was one of seven client deaths at AAC residential treatment programs.
The lawsuit was filed after Kathy Deem made a complaint to state regulators. She wanted insight into her son’s death and asked for an investigation into the house and its staff. The inspection, conducted by the State Bureau of Health Care Quality and Compliance seven months after Cody’s death, turned up no concrete evidence to substantiate the complaint. But the Bureau never actually inspected the property where Arbuckle died. Instead, they inspected another Solutions facility down the street. When their error came to light, they did not attempt to correct course.
The horrifying conclusion: Solutions Recovery staffers gave misleading addiction treatment information. They told people what they wanted to hear to gain their patronage but were in no way qualified to administer the care they claimed to offer. The entire episode indicates a lack of regulation in the rehab industry. Unfortunately, allegations of profiteering and other unethical behaviors have been levied all-too-often against drug abuse rehab in Las Vegas, and private treatment centers across the country.
Laying Down the Law
When another young man, Drew Sanders, lost his life at a Solutions Recovery Facility in 2019, lawmakers vowed to make a change. Months later, a new law was put in front of Nevada legislators: transparent information about addiction treatment services would be accessible through a state-maintained website. It would require that unexpected deaths—or ‘sentinel events’—at treatment facilities be reported.
The Current investigation pulled back the curtain on a host of questionable business practices by giants of the rehabilitation industry like AAC. It showed a desperate need for increased oversight in drug and alcohol abuse rehab Las Vegas. The good news is that Solutions Recovery is now defunct. But it doesn’t stop there. AAC is a behemoth in the rehab industry, and plenty of facilities in Nevada are still undergoing scrutiny.
At the end of the day, people’s health should always come before profit. Corporate success should never outweigh individual safety. Nevada’s lawmakers are starting to do better, but there is still a long way to go.
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