A recent broadcast on the Morning Edition of NPR news drew our attention to the alarming scarcity of substance abuse counselors and the stark reality of a high staff turnover rate.
“There’s not enough beds”
The idea that there are not enough beds is patently false. The problem is that there are not enough substance abuse counselors available to man the beds. Approximately one out of every four drug treatment staff members leaves the job every year. That’s not just recent news; the Institute of Medicine has seen an annual shortage of substance use treatment staff for several decades.
This broadcast highlighted one of the most salient problems connected with drug treatment and recovery today. The unattractiveness of the profession is a pressing issue that needs to be pushed on both a policy and an institutional level. The drug epidemic in America seems to be growing, not decreasing: In 2014, opioid deaths hit a record level—rising 14% in one year. Between the years 2000 and 2014, deaths from drug overdoses reached half a million. Just in opioid-related deaths, there was a 200% rate increase since the year 2000. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)