Desert Canyon Rehab Closes - More Closures Coming Soon

BHere in California, the County and State funded drug treatment programs have been cutting back andor laying off staff for a while now. Long-term programs have become 10-day spin-drys in the blink of an eye. It was only a matter of time before economic conditions began to force private detox facilities and inpatient rehabs into cutting back as well.

But I never thought the dominos would start falling with a well-respected program (a 12-step alternative treatment center) located in Arizona. Using a Wellness model rather than the disease model of addiction, Desert Canyon was one of the first large-scale treatment centers to introduce a Holistic approach to treating addiction. And remarkably, in my 8 plus years attending treatment conferences, consulting with other rehabs, or posting my opinions all over the 'net, I never heard a negative word about them. You'll just have to trust me when I say how truly remarkable that really is.

It was while making my rounds surfing the Internet the other morning that I happened to follow a link that led me to their front page.

At the very top was written, We are sorry to announce that Desert Canyon has closed its doors due to economic conditions...

And that's it. A program that had gone into business to help people was forced to make a business decision. That decision resulted in the closing of its doors and the laying off of its entire staff. And at once I was reminded that the treatment industry has become just industry. A profit-driven business model that can be affected by the economy the same way a bank, a gas station or a restaurant can.

And while the idealist in me wanted to immediately go into denial, I've been inside far too many treatment center board rooms and attended too many treatment conferences to let that happen.


It has for a long time now.

Slowly, but very surely, individual owner-operators of rehabs are being bought out and squeezed out by the new Corporate Clinicians. Most of whom have never experienced for themselves the agony of addiction. I cannot and will not try to claim that I know their motives. But this I do know The men and women in charge of Addiction Treatment today did not come up through AA or NA, LifeSpring, The Salvation Army or even Rational Recovery. Most have never been to a meeting or made a 12-step call or took a panel to Skid Row. I think I would be safe in betting that not even a fraction of a percentage have ever tied-off under a bridge or personally know anyone at 5th and Broadway.

They went to college and majored in Finance or Marketing or Business and learned that addiction treatment took in quite a bit of cash and checks, plus insurance money, grants, and for the non-profits, tax-exempt status.

And they learned that because they were now part of a Helping Profession that the communities they served would automatically respect them. Heck, they are even given awards by their neighbors and their peers! By making the career decision to go into the treatment business instead of becoming a stock broker or financial analyst, they could make plenty of money and even get their picture in the paper a few times a year...and it isn't even a mug shot.

What had somehow remained mom and pop far longer than any economist would have believed, this budding industry is now having to answer to shareholders and CEO's.

I have no facts to make the argument that this is a negative trend. Yet. But I don't have any information with which I can form a positive opinion either. Recent news regarding the behaviors and actions of the leaders of many other industries- banking, Wall Street, automobile manufacturing to name a few- forces me to take a long hard look down the road.

And the realist in me can easily imagine a day when when, much like our automobile industry, we will have a Big Three of Addiction Treatment. It figures. Just when science finally begins to catch up with addiction; spending time, energy and money on the many possibilities for both harm reduction and yes, maybe even a cure, the options for the addict have begun disappearing.

Is it a coincidence that our politicians have suddenly begun to rethink our countries failed drug war Or is it because they've used up every other option for acquiring funding and fear that what's happening here in California today could be reality for their State tomorrow California State funded programs-rehabs, food banks, community colleges... almost every one of course but prisons, were issued IOU's from a bureaucracy that has no idea how they're going to make up a deficit hovering close to 45 Billion (with a B) dollars.

A deficit so big that men who have opposed abortion their entire political careers, or fought to keep the drinking age at 21 (while allowing 18 year olds to die in a war that was launched on lies), are really and truly considering the legalization of Marijuana... Pot. Weed. Mary Jane. Reefer.

Is it because they were struck by the realization that their Drug Policies have been a miserable failure I think not. I think it's because someone put pen to paper and showed them the pot of gold that legalization would bring. The taxes that would be generated by legalizing Marijuana would be more than enough to get even the worst politician re-elected at least a few more times.

So its off into the sunset for the Desert Canyon drug and alcohol treatment program. I wish all of them nothing but the best. As for the rest of us I have to wonder... If we don't buy State grown weed will more teachers be laid-off Will I be placing an unfair burden on my neighbor if I don't smoke the Official State Blunts Actually, I really shouldn't worry. Now that addiction treatment will be run by big corporations (putting them in direct opposition to addiction research of any kind), they'll be paying their fair share of corporate taxes.

Big corporations always pay their fair share...right