The long-overdue crackdown on fraudulent sober house owners, treatment centers, and labs in Florida and across the country by the FBI and state officials is an opportunity for scrupulous providers of recovery services to stand up and be recognized.
I’ve long argued that to succeed in the “business” of sober living, organizations must make client success the most heavily weighted factor in their decision-making process. From facility location and staff selection to programming and community awareness, the choices we make as leaders in this field impact the long-term success rates of our clients. And it’s the success of our clients that will ultimately drive the success of our business.
We’ve applied that same rational to urine testing at Westport House – having to look no further for evidence of efficacy than to the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s Public Policy Statement on Drug Testing as a Component of Addiction Treatment and Monitoring Programs. It states that drug testing “can also serve as a deterrent to substance use and increase the likelihood of successful abstinence, especially if specimens are collected at random intervals.”
As a recovering addict and owner/operator of nationally-recognized sober living organizations for close to a decade, ASAM’s position comes as little surprise. The threat of a positive test result at least gives us pause when the cravings of early recovery surface. It’s a reliable, predictable, deterrent that positively impacts the long-term success rates of our clients.
At Westport House, drug testing is simply a cost of doing business and our policy is as follows:
1) All urine drug screens are completed using a 12-panel Point-of-Care (POC) cup;
2) All new clients are required to submit a urine sample at intake;
3) One (1) test per week is required for IOP/Vivitrol clients;
4) Testing frequency is based on treatment plan recommendation with a min. of three per week during the first 90 days, twice a week after that;
5) The initial urine sample for all new clients will be sent to the lab for confirmation testing, and;
6) Urine samples will otherwise be sent out for confirmation testing based on need.
What warrants a need for lab confirmation testing?
a) There is a positive visual result on the POC cup.
b) There are questions about the legitimacy of the sample.
c) The temperature of the urine never reaches the optimal range indicated on the POC cup.
d) The sample appears to be diluted.
e) If there are behavioral observations that warrant suspicion.
f) The client is fidgeting and/or moving around excessively while producing the urine sample.
g) The client appears visually intoxicated.
Since our inception in 2014, Westport House has incurred all costs associated with urine testing (cups and laboratory confirmation). With the opening of the outpatient center, the need for a true laboratory partner became apparent.
To this end, I’m happy to announce that we have entered into an agreement with Quest Diagnostics to provide confirmation testing for samples that meet the above criteria and are ordered by our Medical Director, Michel Mennesson, MD.
Why Quest Diagnostics? Quest is the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services and serves about half of the physicians and hospitals in the U.S. Also, they are in-network with all major insurance carriers resulting in very little out-of-pocket costs for our clients and their families.
We’ll still incur the costs of the POC cups, but it’s a small price to pay for a useful tool that promotes the success of our clients.