It’s is not something that gets talked about a lot. The last thing most people want to think about is how people at their most vulnerable can be abused and neglected in the very place that’s meant to “cure” them.
The reality is, in California and throughout the U.S., people with serious addiction and psychiatric problems go to rehab—and get much worse. In fact, many high-profile patients have died after completing a stint—or several—in rehab. For example, Glee’s Cory Monteith, Amy Winehouse, Jeff Conaway, and many more. What is going on in there?
What Is Drug Rehab Abuse?
Quite simply, “drug rehab abuse” is when someone seeking help for addiction in an inpatient setting is being abused, neglected, or taken advantage of by staff or other patients. It can happen intentionally, such as a sexual assault, or through poor oversight, such as when a facility is understaffed or workers are improperly trained. Going through rehab is difficult enough. Adding in any form of abuse not only greatly reduces the chances of successful treatment, but can be fatal.
The worst part? These facilities have very little regulation. But there is good news on the horizon: California recently filed murder charges against A Better Tomorrow, a substance abuse treatment facility, for the death of a patient. This is the first time a corporation has been accused of murder. (The victim’s family already won a civil lawsuit against the company for the wrongful death.) From the LA Times: “The prosecutor has argued that the company, in its drive for profit, accepted a client it was not prepared to care for and killed him by failing to refill his oxygen and allowing employees with little or no medical training to give him drugs that made it harder for him to breathe. Benefield was the fourth person to die after checking into the facility in a little over two years.”
What Are the Common Forms of Abuse?
Perhaps the most common form of drug rehab abuse is neglect, which can take many forms. Some facilities do not have enough staff to properly care for the number of patients at the rehab center. Each patient is money coming into the facility, while each staff member is money going back out. Companies understaff to try to boost profits. Poor or incomplete training can also result in neglect, since staff might not know what kind of aid to provide to those in their care, like in the example above.
Outright violence can also occur at these facilities, perpetrated by staff or other residents. Sexual assault and theft are common, and often go unreported due to the victim’s feelings of shame or helplessness.
Drugs and alcohol are often smuggled into these centers, either by patients or staff members, and sold to desperate patients, ruining their attempts to get sober and creating a strong possibility of overdose.
What Can I Do?
It can be difficult to take action against a drug rehab facility, but it’s important to do. Report any criminal conduct to local law enforcement and file a complaint with CA’s Department of Health Care Services, which oversees substance abuse facilities. You may also be able to take civil action against the rehab if any harm was done to your loved one while in their care. Call Siegel Law at (562) 645-4145 to speak to a California drug rehab abuse attorney today.