Updated: Nov 25, 2020
When the substance abuse act was signed into law almost 40 years ago. Opiates were put into the same category as all other abused substances. The treatment plan was then as it is now. Two weeks of detox, followed by 30 days of inpatient to treat underlying conditions and 60-90 days of out patient care/sober living homes. At that time private insurance did not cover treatment costs. Each state was responsible for their own treatment. The failure rate for treatment of heroin abuse at that time was about 50%. No one really knew a lot about heroin addiction. Back then it was considered an inner city problem. No one ever looked back at the treatment protocol and no one saw oxycontin coming. When oxycontin hit the medicine cabinets, opiate addiction spread out across suburbia. Everyone one from the mailman to your doctor was getting hooked on oxys’. Heroin was still an inner city issue. At about this time, private insurance started paying for treatment and rehabs started to popping up all around the country. The same 30 day standard was installed and has been pretty much set in stone since. That was the very beginnings of this epidemic. By the middle of the 1990s’ we realized how bad oxycontin was. By that time, kids as young as 12 were becoming addicted. The rehab industry exploded, all the major facilities now had dozens of satellite treatment programs all operating under the same federal standard. Florida became the rehab capital of the country, followed by California and Arizona. That is something I need to repeat (most private rehabs are in nice warm sunny places). This point is also very important and this is basic street economics. When Oxy’s started to dry up in the street, the price went through the roof. Everyone addicted to Oxycontin switched to heroin! That is how heroin made it to the suburbs. Due to recent laws passed restricting what doctors can prescribe which was absolutely necessary, we are going to repeat the same process again. Now that we have some back history my next post is going to explain where we are now and why.