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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.

4 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of AaronAllen
    AaronAllen / 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.

  2. Avatar of Dru Grehab
    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!

  3. 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!

  4. Jason / September 30, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    You are using it as a sort of cop out. As if it is worse for any one person to smuggle drugs into a treatment program. Many people who work at treatment center are themselves in recovery, they have the same “disease” as the patients. Their addiction can serve as an explanation as to why they have to urge to bring drugs in, but they still have the choice to not take drugs. It is most definitely a very difficult choice, but it is still a CHOICE. These excuses are used to perpetuate the idea of powerlessness in addicts. They have the power to stop, and the people who smuggle drugs in, often want to sell them, not use them. The people who sneak out and use need more help. The ones who bring drugs in to sell need to be arrested.

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