Are we doing our best in the addiction treatment industry?

By John Giordano, Doctor of Humane Letters, MAC, CAP,

person standing in their comfort zone

The question of whether we are doing our best in addiction treatment industry, is an issue of decency and human kindness. It cannot be addressed in facts and figures, spreadsheets and pie charts. It cannot be found in the bottom line of business profits or losses, and is not dictated by the trappings of beach front properties with million-dollar views. It can only be revealed in the individuals we save, the families we reunite, the restoration of hope, and the possibility of a tomorrow that can bring light into a life of darkness.

Understanding that each individual who walks through our doors is deserving of nothing short of our best efforts. This is paramount to the true success of their recovery and our industry. There have been many losses in the war against addiction, perhaps none greater than the loss of humanity in the very places those with addiction seek refuge and recovery. The hypocrisy of the situation should not be lost on us, as we operate to restore the love and hope in the recovering addict, while we slowly lose our own. 

By no means does this mean that all in our profession, in the addiction treatment industry,  have lost their way. In fact, I have witnessed acts of kindness and grace that have left me humbled in the generosity witnessed. The people who have remained steadfast in their mission to do all they can for those in their charge is our bastion of hope for the future of treatment centers. Yet, those heroic individuals can only hold out so long with the decimation of the industry they work within.

I will concede that the addiction treatment industry faces issues that are impossible to ignore and cannot be swept away with a blissful thought or the best of intentions. Costs of quality care, insurance issues, regulations and public scrutiny, seem to hover over our heads like a swinging guillotine, creating an impending doom that we fight against every day. It is correspondingly true that we also have within our industry, those who have brought the hammer and nails to build the device of our dismay. While many have not participated in the creation of these concerns, a few have willingly slid down the moral hill, gathering money on the way and dragging the well intentioned along with them. So where do we go from here.

While attention must be paid to the aforementioned problems, and keeping the doors open, we must concentrate on those we serve. The people who turn to us in the worst hour of their life, with the faintest of hope, are praying that we hold the answer to their turmoil and pain, which they exist in every day. It is our mission, our responsibility to help. In this, we must not fail. For the purpose of brevity, let us spend a few moments of reverent thought on those we are trying to help, and the impact we could have on their lives.

The Mom. She has suffered from substance abuse for several years and has now come to us for help. Her daughter is home waiting for her return with little or no understanding of what is happening, and is in constant fear of never seeing her mother again. The successful return of her mother is more than a graduation from a treatment program. It is the beginning of girls’ night with movies and popcorn, it is having someone to get you through your first crush, it is shopping for the perfect prom dress. There is an abundant number of experiences and moments that are restored through our caring and guidance. To see a mother’s recovery as anything less than a family restored, is a failing to that person. 

The Dad. He has struggled with alcoholism for some time and is in eminent danger of losing his family, job and life. While his family is in chaos and his health is failing, he also has several employees that have placed their livelihood and trust in his ability to lead. His return after successful treatment would mean the safety and stability of many families. While he revels in his recovery, those around him find their lives better as well. There is never just one person impacted, and for each person we do not apply all our best efforts to, many are adversely affected as well.

The Son. He has found himself completely lost in his addiction and has disconnected from everyone who cares about him. Though separated from those who love him, they are always connected to the pain of his addiction. Families tear each other apart with blame and confusion, all the while praying that one day their son will return to them, healthy and restored. Our access may only be to the son, but each moment we spend on his care is a moment in service to the entire family. 

Each person we see is someone’s mother or father, son or daughter, husband or wife. Every life is significant and deserving of our care, our patience, our understanding and yes, our love. It cannot be overstated that we are in many cases, the last hope. The responsibility is great, and often overwhelming, but that is why we exist. 

 The impact of what we do, and how we do it, goes far beyond the individual who finds themselves in our care. What we do must go beyond business as usual. We must reach deep into our hearts, into the qualities within each of us, that made us choose to take up the mantle of addiction treatment to begin with. 

Change in the addiction treatment industry is constant, and the troubles are plentiful. There will always be a new challenge or roadblock in our efforts to help those in need. Without the common grounds of decency and kindness that we can all share, we are in more peril than those we treat.

I implore each of us, individually and collectively, to ask, “Are we doing our best?”


John Giordano is the founder of ‘Life Enhancement Aftercare & Chronic Relapse Recovery Center,’ an Addiction Treatment Consultant, President and Founder of the National Institute for Holistic Addiction Studies, Chaplain of the North Miami Police Department and is the Second Vice President of the Greater North Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. He is on the editorial board of the highly respected scientific Journal of Reward Deficiency Syndrome (JRDS) and has contributed to over 65 papers published in peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals. For the latest development in cutting-edge addiction treatment, check out his websites: