|Markets get clogged with this.|
We live in a wonderful country in which the free market system has provided us with increasingly cheaper and more effective technology. Just looking at the options we have in cell phones and how quickly they became affordable for all, and the many options we have in choosing a phone and it’s various features is mind-blowing. This is because companies can freely invent new things, put them on the market, and see if they’re useful and if people want to buy them. We can see this in countless industries where we get better products and services at lower prices as time goes on. So why is it that addiction treatment hasn’t gotten better and cheaper? Mainly, it’s because there isn’t much of a free market for this service.
A free market is one where people voluntarily trade with each other. The opposite, an unfree market, is one where the choices aren’t made by the producers and consumers themselves and on their own terms, but instead, the decisions are made by a variety of government panels, experts, agencies, politicians, and bureaucrats – and on their terms. In a free market, a company that keeps trying to sell a useless, unwanted, ineffective product or service would eventually go out of business. But if that company doesn’t need to deal with individual customers, but can instead get paid by a government who agrees with their way of doing things, then they can stay in business, and avoid the responsibility of improving their product into one that people will voluntarily pay for. This is the case with treatment centers, they don’t stay in business because their product is actually effective and needed, they stay in business because they’ve convinced their friends in the government that their product is effective and needed – and they’re being paid by the government.
As we all know, the government is getting it’s money from us, in the form of taxes. And the chosen few who are running it, are throwing our money away on treatment programs which hurt people rather than help them. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), government spending on substance abuse services will reach $35 billion a year by 2014, at which point every one of us will be paying $109 of our tax dollars every year to fund this wasteful expenditure and prop up a failing industry. It’s not a conspiracy theory to say that we’re propping up the treatment industry, and it’s not a conspiracy theory to say that the substance abuse treatment market isn’t free either. These are facts, plain as day, for anyone to see. In the same report, SAMHSA’s data (p29) shows us that in 1986 50% of Substance Abuse (SA) expenditures were funded by the government – by 2003 the government was funding 77% of SA expenditures, and they now project that by 2014 the government will be paying 86% of the dollars spent on SA treatment!
Beyond the fact that money is being confiscated from ordinary citizens to prop up this industry, there are myriad laws, regulatory agencies, and licensing requirements which tell you as a treatment provider, what kind of services you must provide – further eroding any notion of a free market for services which help substance abusers to solve their problems. And should you come up with a better technology for helping substance abusers, as my friends at Baldwin Research Institute did, and you try to exist outside of the conventional treatment system, these governmental forces will be brought down upon you so that you must fight to exist. Got a better way to help substance abusers? Good luck bringing it to market, it’s a dicey situation, and the state of the unfree market has made it an endeavor which may be more trouble than it’s worth.
Bottom line, there is no free market for addicts to find help in, and as a result, ineffective programs have become the norm. What makes this so much more insulting is that several government agencies are pushing for acceptance of the disease theory, which has been counterproductive, and at the same time, they’re producing research which shows the treatment methods they promote to be unsuccessful. Imagine if the $35 billion a year they’ll be spending on treatment was simply withdrawn? The treatment centers would have to convince each customer, one by one, that it’s worth $20,000 to attend a 28 day program which isn’t effective. They would soon run out of customers, and then they’d have to come up with something that works and is worth spending money on. It’s time for change, please ask your representative to cut funding for treatment programs – at all governmental levels – through medicare, state, local, and federal agencies.