Some Patients in Rehab Centers May Go to Great Lengths to Obtain Drugs

Several recent cases of drugs smuggled into substance abuse treatment centers highlight how difficult it is to eradicate drug use in these facilities, according to USA Today.

In New Jersey this summer, prosecutors arrested seven men, including five employees, at Veterans Affairs treatment facilities on charges of distributing heroin, crack cocaine and painkillers.

In Minnesota, a patient at a locked state drug treatment facility was sentenced to four years in prison, after she and two other patients used heroin and other drugs smuggled in shampoo bottles and pockets of jeans by an accomplice outside the center. Now clients must undress for a contraband search when they are admitted to the facility.

“Addicts will go to great lengths to get drugs,” said Carol Falkowski, former director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division at Minnesota’s Department of Human Services, who also worked at the Hazelden Foundation. Patients at facilities can often convince friends, family or their former dealers to smuggle in drugs for them, she said. “It happens all the time,” she noted. “Historically, it’s something that every treatment center has to deal with.”

At Origins Recovery Centers on South Padre Island, Texas, patients are thoroughly searched and are tested for drugs twice a week, according to CEO Ben Levenson. “These are survivors. They are super resourceful. Many of them are super bright. They try everything. I’ve seen them hide pills in the seams of their dress shirts,” he said. The facility conducts deep background checks on employees, and regularly tests them for drugs.

The Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California has a highly trained security team that includes a dog trained to detect drugs, strict protocols for all visitors and random drug testing of patients, according to spokesman Russ Patrick.

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    Fever Dan

    October 9, 2015 at 5:59 AM

    What this article didn’t mention is that it was the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage which the USA Today article was highlighting as having the big problem with drugs getting smuggled in and worse. The last paragraph talks about all the security including drug sniffing dogs, but that was implemented after there was a big brouhaha with the patient who outted the facility. It’s approximately two years later now and let me tell you the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage still has a problem. The facility needs to look at its employees and investigate all of them, forget the drug tests, because most aren’t on drugs…they are completely clean and sober themselves, but these employees are making lots and lots and LOTS of money selling drugs to patients.

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    October 4, 2015 at 1:35 PM

    I work in a veterans hospital (locked psych unit) in mass. we are also a drug rehab, the drugs are completely out of control. The veterans use drugs with the disability money they receive and then come to the unit to hide out from the police and to use drugs. They cheek their meds, they have visitors that bring them contraband, even though there is camera there. We are told by management that we are hospital not a prison, even though some of the veterans are part of the V.J.O program which is known as the veterans justice outreach. They are brought from prison to our unit, to get help. It’s a vicious cycle of drug abuse, the system has created them.

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    November 26, 2013 at 3:40 AM

    You will have to be extra alert and attentive towards the patients because that is what is the reason why they are here today. All rehab centers are not able to handle the behavior of patients.

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    Dru Grehab

    October 7, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    Shame on whoever was smuggling the drugs in the shampoo bottle. That’s the real problem right there!

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    dean hale

    September 24, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Shame on the 5 employees! As far as the patients… that is what addicts do, they have a disease, they are sick, this is not a cop out or an excuse it’s just an explanation, it is part of their disease!

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