Addiction Treatment Goes Public: AAC’s Recovery-Center Empire

American Addiction Centers, founded in 2011 and based in Brentwood, Tenn., is run by Michael Cartwright, a former drug addict and alcoholic who says he’s been sober for 23 years. The company owns eight facilities in six states and treats about 5,000 patients annually. In 2013 its revenue was $116 million, up from $28 million in 2011. Last October, analysts say, it became the first business focused solely on addiction treatment to go public, raising $75 million in an IPO. AAC is currently valued at about $588 million. So far, investing in some of society’s most troubled members seems to be paying off: Since October the company’s stock price has almost doubled, from $15 to $28…

Drawing on data from IBISWorld, the company’s IPO underwriters estimate there are 8,100 substance-abuse treatment enterprises across America, operating 16,700 clinics and centers. These include famous nonprofits such as the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, as well as Narconon International, an addiction treatment organization with ties to the Church of Scientology. At the very high end, Malibu centers like Promises and Cliffside charge the Lindsay Lohans of the world as much as $112,000 per month out-of-pocket for spa-like accommodations and services…

Cartwright guarantees that a patient who checks in for 90 days can come back for free if he relapses…

Over the centuries, doctors have subjected addicts to a range of “cures.” They’ve tried cocaine, LSD, shock therapy, lobotomies, tranquilizers, vitamins, and vegetarian diets. In the 1950s, some doctors made alcoholics huff carbon dioxide until they passed out, a method also used to treat anxiety and melancholy, according to William White, author of Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America…

Back at American Addiction Centers’ headquarters, situated along with the call center on two floors of a nondescript brick building, Cartwright says his company has given an independent research firm $500,000 to study its outcomes…

1/24/2015, How China purchased a prime cut of America’s pork industry

But behind the usual flag waving and Red Scare antics lies a stark new reality: Chinese companies, at the urging of their government, have launched a global buying spree, a new phase in their unprecedented economic experiment. And they’re targeting a resource that climate scientists, economists, the U.S. government, even Wall Street, all forecast will become dangerously scarce in the coming decades: food…

Screening for Addiction and Monitoring for Aberrant Behavior in Patients with Chronic Pain

Click to access Speaker4-presentation.pdf

By UNM Health Sciences Center (undated)

“Prescribing opioids will lead to abuse/addiction in a small percentage of chronic pain patients, but a larger percentage will demonstrate aberrant drug related behaviors and illicit drug use. These percentages appear to be much less if CPPs are preselected for the absence of a current or past history of alcohol/illicit drug use or abuse/addiction.” (Fishbain et al.)

Prevalence of Addiction in Chronic Pain Patients

24 studies with 2,057 patients with rate of 3.27% for abuse/addiction.
• Rate of abuse/addiction in patients with no history or current use of substances was 0.19%
• Fishbain DA. Pain Med. 2008;9:444-58.

Aberrant Behavior Prevalence

17 studies of 2,466 chronic pain patients found rate of 11.5% for aberrant behavior.
• For patients without SUD, rate was 0.59%.
• 5 studies (15,542 patients) by urine toxicology: 20.4% had no Rx opioid or an opioid not prescribed.
• 5 studies (1,965 patients): 14.5% had illicit drugs.

Risk Factors for aberrant behavior

• Lifetime history of substance use disorder (alcohol, tobacco, illicit substances)
• Psychiatric co-morbidity
• History of pre-adolescent sexual abuse
• Family history of substance abuse
• History of legal problems
• Younger age (16 – 45)
• Increased functional impairment

Tobacco, really?  So, if you’re a smoker, no pain meds for you.  And which chronic pain patients don’t also have psychiatric issues?  And if you’ve been sexually abused, no pain meds for you either.  Who’s family doesn’t have substance abuse problems?  And watch out, if you’ve got “legal” problems, no pain meds for you either.  Same goes for those between the ages of 16 and 45, a rather large group.  As for functional impairment, doesn’t the constant and unmanaged pain cause that too?

Risk Factors Predictive of Dependence

I can answer this one:  If you’re an American.

Spectrum of Aberrant Behaviors: mild, moderate, and severe

Risk Assessment Tools

Do patients with other medical problems have specific risk assessment tools?  And how many patients would that consist of, considering the majority of them are going to be seeking pain relief?  Perhaps pain patients should feel flattered that the medical industry is going to all this trouble to… protect us (them).


• DAST© Drug Addiction Screening Tool


• ORT©

• COMM (Chronic Opioid Misuse Measure)TM

How to use risk assessment tools

Should not be used to deprive patients of pain management or opioid therapy but to identify those who are at risk for addiction…

Sure, that’s what will happen — the tools won’t be abused, no way.  And how would anyone be able to tell if the tools were used in a discriminatory manner?  I mean, once your “identified” as at risk for addiction, you now have a label you’ll carry for the rest of your life.  Pretty soon, if you’ve been given that label, your health insurance premiums will increase, just like they have for smokers.

Sure, doctors won’t use these “tools” as their reasons for denying pain medications.  Not that they have to — doctors can just stop prescribing these life-saving drugs.

Balancing Benefits/Risks

Patients with addiction less likely to use illicit drugs if painful conditions controlled…

Ha, that’s funny… the medical industry believing they can control pain.  And if the drug addict being treated for pain develops an even stronger addiction?  Why, that’s the patient’s fault, not the fault of a doctor who wouldn’t prescribe the needed amount of medications.  (But, see, I’ve documented the use of all these tools!  I have proof that this person is at high risk for addiction!)

Management of Risk

UNIVERSAL PRECAUTIONS: every patient is potentially at risk..

Okay, you just said that doctors shouldn’t prejudge patients, but you go ahead and do it anyway.

When to Taper Opioids

DO NOT abandon the patient even if you refer…

Gosh, I wish there was a law that said this, because doctors do it all the time, with no consequences whatsoever.  Recently, if a doctor has patients who die of drug overdoses, they’re considered criminals.  Then why isn’t abandoning a patient considered a crime also? Don’t doctors think that some of these abandoned patients go on to commit suicide?


The management of chronic pain with opioids is challenging and rewarding…

Challenging and rewarding?  Yeah, because who doesn’t want the DEA overseeing every decision you make as a doctor?

Considering the low incidence of addiction in the chronic pain patient population, this seems like a lot of effort to catch the small percentage of us that may become addicted to our legally prescribed medications.

If you’re Irish, you’re an alcoholic?

“You have an Irish last name — good luck finding anyone who will believe you [are not an alcoholic]!“  Linda Bresnahan, Director of Operations, PHS [after fabricating positive alcohol test]

Hey, I’m half Irish, and I don’t drink — heck, I don’t even like alcohol.  And how does a last name for a married woman work with that logic?  If I marry a man with an Irish last name, would I then always be under suspicion by the medical industry for alcohol addiction?

As a chronic pain patient, I’m already automatically considered a potential opioid addict.  And of course I have alcoholics in my family tree — doesn’t every American?  So, really, if you’re an American, you’re a potential drug/alcohol addict.

Considering the amount of money to be made in drug testing and incarceration, one has to wonder just how many drug test results are actually factual…

Sports center, airport or border town?

Before entering the 72,000-seat stadium, where an open roof was allowing sunshine to pour onto the field, people were being put through metal detectors, a pat down and getting bags X-rayed. Photos of the security process, which included bomb-sniffing dogs, are forbidden.

When will Americans stop putting up with armed military wherever they go?