The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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April 5, 2013

Your View: Fletcher responds to rehab article

I appreciate the coverage of my book “Inside Rehab” (in the March 17 Free Press) but want to clarify the following:

  • In addition to 15 facilities visited nationwide, I interviewed hundreds of rehab clients, staffers, and experts. My findings are corroborated by research and independent reports. Although the article’s portrayal of the many industry problems is accurate, I also profiled facilities that provide excellent care. (I didn’t visit any facilities in this city.)
  • Most people recover from addictions on their own, by attending self-help groups, and/or by seeing a therapist individually. My advice is that before automatically “going to rehab,” you should consider consulting an independent mental health professional with expertise in addictions for an assessment and to explore options.
  • Although many states don’t require at least a bachelor’s degree to become an addiction counselor, Minnesota does, a rule that went into place about eight years ago. However, those who didn’t have a degree then were “grandfathered” in, and many still practice.
  • Only about 2 out of 10 addiction programs nationwide (not of the programs I visited) use medications that help with alcohol problems. Medications are often used by rehabs just to “detox” people addicted to heroin and prescription painkillers. However, unless these medications are used long term, relapse and death rates are much higher, as confirmed by many studies.
  • The article mentioned that AA is faith-based — members consider it “spiritual,” but multiple higher courts nationwide have ruled that AA is religious and that mandated attendance violates  First Amendment rights unless a secular alternative is offered. I support AA involvement for those who connect with its philosophy. However, I interviewed countless people who did not and were never offered alternatives, despite going to 12-step rehabs many times and spending huge sums of money. If more options were offered, more would be helped.
  • Also, it should have been noted that the the credit for my photo should go to Daniel Dinsmore Photography.

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