Like Throwing a Dart at a Map: The Struggle To Find Addiction Treatment

By
John Purcell
A selfie of the author, a white man with a shaved head wearing a black and white track jacket

In 2009, I had already spent six years struggling with my use of opiates and benzodiazepines. I could no longer ignore the many pleas and ultimatums from my family and friends and agreed to look for treatment options.

Online searches for treatment proved to be difficult and confusing.

Unfortunately, those in similar situations today are likely familiar with trying to decipher the trustworthy information and resources from the scams, scanning for information between sleepless nights of wondering whether your loved one is alive, or perhaps fighting off cravings yourself.

It was evident to me then—as it still is, even now—that determining which treatment facilities offered the best chance of success was nearly impossible.

Like throwing a dart at a map, blindfolded. Most sites that I came across were facility homepages, picturing a slick advertisement for luxury rehab. The cost, description of therapeutic modalities used, insurance accepted, and other information necessary when selecting healthcare was buried under selling points; promises of gourmet meals and glossy wide-angle photos of infinity pools. The only way to learn anything meaningful about the treatment services was to call the 800 number, where a fast-talking salesperson was ready to prey on your vulnerability, fear, and confusion.

Based on the information I found, I picked a place. But it didn’t really take.

I tried again five years later, in 2014, and it that experience also didn’t really take. Every time treatment didn’t work out, I was sent back into the world. The chances I’d survive were slim. Finally, in 2016 I began the slow road back to health. Not because I finally found the right treatment, but because something clicked in my head and I turned towards the sun. It’s been over four years since the last time I self-medicated with drugs.

I am miraculously lucky, but many are not.

Many don’t find the help they need because helpful and trustworthy resources aren’t available where they know to look. Finding the right treatment is absolutely essential in the fight against substance use disorders. Treatment centers are medical facilities, and lives are at stake. In this age of information, I cannot think of a more necessary resource, than a thorough, transparent, compassionate, and comprehensive guide for those searching for help. 

This is why it is so important that Massachusetts has been selected as one of six states to help launch the new addiction treatment locator, analysis, and standards tool, ATLAS.

Led by Shatterproof, ATLAS will include objective information on addiction treatment facilities across the state and will allow users to compare facilities side-by-side or filter by criteria that’s important to their decision. It will also include other patients’ reviews.

Finally, an online resource for people in my situation and their loved ones that want them to find help. No more blindfolds, no more dart boards.

 

John Purcell is a Shatterproof Ambassador. He lives in Massachusetts.