Losing Faith in State Funded Spirituality

I firmly believe you cannot give all addicts the same “medicine” and expect successful treatment results. I also believe that because “professionals” send people to Alcoholics Anonymous (from treatment centers to justice systems), that Alcoholics Anonymous MUST conduct itself professionally.  If not, then those who become licensed or earn degrees to become certified drug counselors MUST provide alternative options for “support groups.”

First off, 12 steppers claim AA is NOT professional & that AA can’t impose rules & conditions prohibiting or preventing financial, violent or sexual crimes.  So how can you send probationers or parolees into a non-professional environment that is incapable of keeping others safe? For example, the man running the in-house Cocaine Anonymous meeting at the rehab I attended was getting phone numbers & having sexual relationships with women from treatment. Because this was a facility regulated by law, that CA meeting was cancelled. THAT is the difference rules make.

However, 12 step rehabs are in a crazy Catch-22 situation because the professionals must teach the 12 step model to their clients. To become a Chemical Dependency Counseling Assistant <1> in Ohio, where I live, one must learn the “biophysical” and “cultural” and “spiritual” factors of addiction.  The models & theories & history of treatment policies. Not once is “A.A.” or “the 12 Steps” mentioned, however, Ohio only has 12 step treatment centers. Supposedly, one is learning both “effective treatment” as well as “continuing care.” I don’t know why one would need continued care if they were effectively treated.

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I successfully graduated an outpatient treatment in 2005.  It was so effective I was court ordered into 2 months of inpatient treatment in 2011. Interestingly enough, I wasn’t told during intake that clients had to hold hands and give thanks to God before every meal.  There was also the Serenity Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer book-ending every group therapy session- as many as six sessions a day.  Now, professional counselors are supposed to adapt “strategies to client characteristics,” and use “culturally appropriate models” so are we to believe Christian prayer is “culturally appropriate” for all addicts?

Interestingly, The Key’s website states it utilizes the “12-step recovery process” during the clients 2-6 month stay depending on how quickly “she progresses and meets the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (ODADAS) criteria for transfer and discharge to a lower level of care.” <2> For those not religiously inclined, they’ll probably fake it til they make it- out of rehab as quick as possible. I remember I took a bathroom break during the “Our Father,” I would return to a group leader’s reprehension: “You can’t leave during the prayer.”  This disregard for different beliefs can make one “work the steps” as fast as possible. I’d wager that most people rush through “finding God” just to graduate. I remember getting more positive responses for saying unicorns were my higher power instead of having no higher power. Even with all this obvious God-talk, ODADAS poured $200 million into Ohio rehabs in 2012 in state & federal funds, dividing the money among AOD/mental health boards. Or, in my estimates, roughly 18 prayers a day.

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My rehab also had a framed copy of Ohio’s Patient’s Bill of Rights on the wall. This document promises “professional expertise” and “options available,” yet it seems the only option was choosing whatever Higher Power you wanted, though, it didn’t have to be God. This document said we’d be provided info on the “effectiveness of treatment” and I remember being told 5 out of 6 of us “wouldn’t make it.” Sounds very effective to me. The Bill of Rights asked me “Is anyone besides your professional involved in your treatment decisions?” Yes, I was court ordered. The B.o.R. asked, “If so, do they have the same training and experience as your treating professional?” Well, my probation officer said her husband was an A.A. member, so that must mean she’s an expert. “Treatment decisions should not be made by third party payers.” Does that mean Ohio courts CAN’T send people to rehab? And, by proxy, Ohio courts can’t send people to A.A.?

But people cooperate with courts, because typically people prefer freedom to jail time. But Ohio also offers treatment to people in prison, for crimes other than DUI or drug related convictions. And when con-artists, sleazebags, murderers, domestic violence ex-cons, and rapists are out on the streets, they can attend A.A. and know full well that A.A. has no safety policies. According to the Patient Bill of Rights, treatment professionals “may be held accountable and liable to individuals for any injury caused by gross incompetence or negligence on the part of the professional.” It also states that payers & 3rd parties can be held accountable/ liable by their clinically unjustified decisions. Wouldn’t that make insurers and the state and the courts liable for sending people into unregulated, unsafe A.A. meetings?

Ohio illustrates how professional treatment violates a person’s right to culturally appropriate and safe treatment. A chemical dependency counselor cannot deliver equal care to their clients when they have different religious beliefs, have been abused, or have been the abuser, and then prescribe all of them the same “medicine” — an A.A. meeting. Tax dollars should not fund faith based treatment nor an entire industry based on benefiting only one non-profit organization— A.A.  Furthermore, A.A. is not qualified to rehabilitate rapists or murderers or thieves and most importantly- there are no rules on how to handle any crime in an A.A. meeting.

<1> http://ocdp.ohio.gov/apps/CDCA%20Phase%20I%20-%20Definitions.pdf
<2>  http://www.lcada.com/women.htm

Full Patient Bill of Rights in Ohio: http://www.ohiosocialwork.org/substance-abuse-topics/patient-bill-of-rights/

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