In a shocking news report released yesterday, two staffers were found dead after having overdosed on heroin and fentanyl in an unlicensed Pennsylvania recovery home. The tragic story highlights the critical nature of the opioid epidemic in the United States while drawing attention to systemic concerns about the clinical integrity of many organizations, as well as the importance of self-care within the treatment industry.
“If anybody is wondering how bad the opioid epidemic has become, this case is a frightening example,” District Attorney Tom Hogan of Chesterfield County said, “Opioids are a monster that is slowly consuming our population.”
Nationwide, we have seen increased growth within the addiction treatment sector, and today there are more recovery centers – including unlicensed centers – than ever before. While recovery organizations across the country abound, however, the opioid epidemic rages on. Along with it, the ongoing debate about how to approach this widespread problem continues.
We are living in a time when there is a vital need for exceptional services capable of meeting this healthcare crisis.
Lives truly are at stake. Both as an industry and as a nation, it is imperative that we take action to stand up against the deadly illness of addiction through the provision of quality care services. This means that we must hold all offerings along the continuum of care – from residential treatment to outpatient services and sober living – to the highest standard. While there are diverse options for those in need, many facilities, even those without licensure, give the illusion of quality treatment while simultaneously failing to operate with exceptional clinical and ethical integrity. It is important that we create accountability for this integrity by hiring superior clinical personnel while maintaining a commitment to community education and the collection of outcomes data.
As providers, we know that even impeccable teams are incapable of meeting the needs of patients when organizational health is not maintained by individual self-care efforts.
Patients deserve support from staff who attend to their own wellness. At Origins, we place an emphasis on self-care because we understand that delivering quality services to the suffering addict can cause compassion fatigue and counselor burnout. For those professionals who also have a history of addiction, this can be deadly.
We ask the men and women in our care to address their recovery in all aspects of wellness – body, mind and spirit. If we are to make this request of our patients, it is critical that we hold ourselves to the same standard.
As an organization, it is important that we support our employees’ self-care efforts so that they are properly armed with the ability to help those struggling with addiction. Clinical integrity can only be upheld when personal integrity is honored through compassionate self-care. With this value system in place, we are able to help our patients begin to lead rich lives filled with hope, faith, and courage.