Unnecessary Testing in Rehabs & Why We Don’t Do It
On the surface, it sounds logical for drug testing in rehabs to occur. The existence of rehab facilities is rooted in helping people get sober and a test seems to be an appropriate method to screen and monitor patients. After all, rehab facilities establish the rules patients have to follow in exchange for the treatment they receive.
By testing for substances, the staff at facilities are providing one way to ensure patients are following the rules and staying sober while in treatment. This is especially important for residential facilities, which may have waiting lists due to a limited number of beds available. Knowing patients are following the rules makes certain those in treatment are working toward sobriety. If not, the facility can make the decision for someone else to take the rule breakers place.
In theory, testing appears to make a lot of sense. However, like most things, there are many layers to understand about testing. After careful examination and our patient-first approach, Ocean Hills Recovery finds constant testing to be unnecessary. To explain, let’s begin with the basics.
The Drug Testing Process
Drug testing policies typically vary based on the individual rehab facility. Many facilities will require random, unannounced urine tests. If a client’s test is positive, a follow-up test may be required along with closer supervision.
Other facilities may test on a regular schedule, such as weekly. These facilities explain to their patients testing is conducted more frequently to help ensure clients stay sober while in treatment. If patients know they are going to be facing tests regularly throughout treatment, the belief is there are fewer chances for them to use substances and hope their system becomes clean before a random urine test.
Generally, urine testing procedures are the same in most facilities. Patients are asked to provide a sample, which is then tested by a lab. A urinalysis typically tests for common substances, including alcohol and opiates, among others. The results tell the facility whether the client is using substances while in treatment or not.
The Unnecessary Truth
Even though rehab facilities claim constant urine testing is a necessary part of the rehabilitation protocol, they often abuse the practice. Rehab facilities claim drug testing is an absolute necessity to achieve long-term sobriety results. But, including a drug testing regime has not proven to have an impact on the success of patient recovery.
In fact, Ocean Hills Recovery has found constant, frequent testing is not necessary for rehab treatment to be successful. There are other, more productive ways rehab facilities can enforce policies to ensure patients are following the rules. The use of constant drug and alcohol testing does not have to be one of those methods.
Why Rehabs Test
Even though facilities claim they use urine testing to ensure that clients are following the rules and not using substances while in treatment, there is another reason many centers test frequently. Urine testing can be very lucrative for rehab facilities.
A urinalysis is an expensive test. Each test is billed to insurance companies who in turn reimburse the rehab facility. For facilities that test on a regular basis, the income becomes a fixed part of the rehabs revenue stream. And, when an income stream becomes solidified as a source of profitability, attempting to change the practice becomes almost impossible.
This leaves many facilities building their policies around urine testing instead of developing an effective treatment plan that focuses on helping clients get healthy and sober. In most states, there are no laws against this practice, so it goes on unchecked, and the clients are the ones who suffer because of it.
A Reputable Approach
Reputable rehab facilities won’t rely on frequent urine testing because they know there are other, more effective ways to help clients get and stay sober. The money spent on a urinalysis instead could be spent on therapy sessions, support programs, or life skills training. When the objective is long-term sobriety, testing in rehabs is really a short-term solution for a long-term goal. Focusing on programs that will have positive, life-long benefits become much more valuable to patients than a few urine tests.
Reducing testing allows rehab centers to use their budget more wisely. When funds are spent wisely, programs become more effective for patients.
If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse, contact your nearest hospital or Ocean Hills Recovery. Finding the right rehab facility is the first step in a lifelong journey of sobriety.