Is Managed Care Managing the Care out of Addiction Treatment? One CEO's Call to Action

By Crosby, Christopher | Addiction Professional, July 2004 | Go to article overview

Is Managed Care Managing the Care out of Addiction Treatment? One CEO's Call to Action


Crosby, Christopher, Addiction Professional


My name is Christopher Crosby and I am successfully recovering from the disease of addiction.

My personal recovery journey began in the winter of 1979 while serving abroad in the United States Army. I'm a dedicated Christian, husband, father, son and brother. Just like any other productive, responsible member of society, I pay taxes, I vote and I am politically active.

I'm also the CEO of The Watershed Addiction Treatment Programs. We employ nearly 350 people and we have provided care to more than 10,000 sick and suffering addicts and alcoholics since 1998. I myself received treatment, and probably wouldn't be alive today had I not.

I wish to stand up and be counted as a member of the recovery community both as a recovering person and as an addiction treatment professional. I urge all of you who read this article to do the same.

For through our silence, we have allowed the discrimination to continue against all those suffering with and recovering from the disease of addiction. Silence and compliance are our greatest enemies. It is discriminatory policies that prevent us from delivering optimal care to those who so desperately need it.

It's time to stand up and be counted. It's time for us to come together as a unified community comprising recovering individuals, their friends, their families and the professionals that help them heal.

Now more than ever, we need to speak out against the stigma and discrimination. The message should be concise and clear--addiction is a disease, treatment works, and recovery is a reality in the lives of millions.

My story

My work in the addiction treatment field has always been personal. I really began my career at home as the caretaker of two addicted parents--one who made it into recovery and one who died as a direct result of the disease of addiction. Rescuing them from the throes of a full-blown addict lifestyle occurred all too frequently in my youth.

However, my first official job in the addiction field began in 1980 just after I was discharged from the Army. I was hired as a detox-tech at a public facility that was there for anyone who walked through the door. What started as a means to strengthen my own recovery grew to become my chosen vocation.

It was there that I first learned the joys of helping the sick and suffering. We were trained to treat the alcoholic and the addict with dignity and respect, and learned how to "love them back to health--right where they are at." It truly was a nurturing, caring environment that I insist on being the core culture of The Watershed Addiction Treatment Programs today.

Since then I have worked as a crisis intervention counselor, a detox nurse, an interventionist, a group therapist, an admissions coordinator and director, a business developer, and an administrator. In the 1980s, I witnessed the blossoming of our industry, and in the '90s I watched our near-demise as managed care altered the entire medical landscape. Nowhere is that change more extreme or damaging than in the field of addiction treatment.

Business decisions now affect and often dictate clinical care. The impact of the financial side of things has affected every aspect of addiction treatment. All of these pressures combine to limit access to addiction treatment for individuals and their families.

Recovery is about learning successful ways to respond to change--that's what those of us in the treatment field need to apply to our own professional circumstances. Our field must find effective ways to take actions to ensure the best care for our clients, to ensure the professional survival of our field, and to help lower the enormous social costs of untreated addiction.

When we formed The Watershed, the investors and principals all came in with the same commitment. We believe that a longer stay in treatment is better, and we are committed to the best clinical care for our clients. …

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