Letter to the Editor: Not all recovery centers are bad

Sober living treatment centers have been getting a lot of attention and scrutiny in recent weeks for questionable recruitment, retention, and cheating tribal members seeking help for their addiction.

For those of us in the treatment center business, we knew for years this was happening and tried to alert people. So, we’re happy that finally aggressive measures and scrutiny are being taking into looking into this shameful situation. But now, the bad guys have made everyone in the substance abuse recovery industry look bad.

As the owner of a 50-bed substance abuse treatment center in Prescott, Arizona, I have worked on the recovery side of this business since 2010. Along the way, I got hundreds on the road to successful recovery, earned a master’s degree in addiction counseling and secured a difficult-to-obtain state license in substance abuse counseling (LISAC).

I’ve seen both sides and speak from personal experience. Back in Winslow, Arizona a border town south of the Navajo Nation, people knew me as a juvenile offender, drug and alcohol abuser. It wasn’t until I hit rock bottom at 25 and almost went to prison that I started my path to recovery. But it hasn’t been a straight path. Like others on this journey, I’ve endured setbacks along the way. But next month in July, it will be 33 years since I last took heroin or drank alcohol. So, I know what it’s like when it seems hopeless. That is why I care.

People who are struggling out there, need our help now. That is why we must all work together to resolve this issue so we can get back to helping people recover. We are hearing reports that payments are being frozen to some treatment centers. I’ve heard some treatment centers have decided to decline Native American clients while the issue is addressed. Some have even released their Native clients for fear of adverse actions or backlash.

These actions do not help the situation, it makes it worse for those who need treatment.

Many of us are ethical and not on the indictment list released by the Arizona Attorney General’s office. We have treated patients with caring respect, because some of us have been on the other side.

We are not all bad guys and people need help now. Addiction is color blind and doesn’t care if you are affluent or college educated.

A few recommendations are as follows:

• Provide better oversight of the entire program.

• Establish a vetting process to confirm evidence of ethical treatment including program schedules, policies and procedures, and appropriate licensing for all facilities.

• Develop a system to obtain feedback from clients who have gone through treatment.

I have other suggestions that I hope to share at some point with tribal leaders.

Even though the current situation is difficult, I am certain our current struggles will only make it better for those who need help the most.

We are here to help.

Adam Rogers, owner

Shamrock Recovery Services

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