Home Publisher's Note The Public/Private Chasm
Publisher's Note
The Public/Private Chasm
January 2006

A couple of weeks ago I was astounded to hear the reaction of Tom McLellan, arguably the nation’s most eminent expert in the field of addiction, to Treatment Magazine after reading our first two issues that I had just sent him. “I didn’t know any of this,” he exclaimed. “I just didn’t know any of this!”

Naturally, I was very pleased that Treatment Magazine could ever teach a guy like Tom McLellan something about the addiction treatment industry. But after I had gotten over feeling good about myself, I was more troubled than anything else. I realized we had been able to teach McLellan something from our first two issues because both had been almost entirely focused on the private side of the treatment business, something McLellan admitted to me sheepishly that he knew next to nothing about, having focused his career on the publicly funded side of the business.

Here was another example, the most glaring certainly so far, of something that we at Treatment Magazine have been monitoring with growing concern, which is that there appears to be a very wide and apparently ever growing chasm between the private side of treatment business and the side of the business that is supported primarily by public funding.

We began to get an inkling that there were two sides to this business, and never the two shall speak, when Treatment Magazine became involved in the launching and organizing of the Naatp CEO Summits, a series of we are very proud to say successful summits held across the nation sponsored by The Van Wagner Group, the nation’s leading addiction industry insurance agency, the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, Naatp, the leading industry organization representing the private side of the treatment business, and Treatment Magazine. While we were organizing the Chicago CEO Summit, it came to the attention of a Naatp member that we had invited executives from Haymarket House, a nationally known facility founded by the renowned Father McDermott that relies almost exclusively on public funding. “You don’t want to invite them,” said the Naatp member. “They don’t mix well with us.” Naturally, we ignored the absurd suggestion and went ahead and invited Haymarket anyway. It didn’t matter, though, because in the end our public/private bridge building efforts came to naught. Haymarket didn’t show up.

It wouldn’t matter if the pubic and private side of the business didn’t talk to each other if it weren’t for the enormous public policy goals that the two share, goals that have seen relatively little progress in coming to fruition over the past three decades. That the failure of this industry to advance its public policy agenda can be laid at the doorstep of its high degree of fragmentation, as well as the failure of its bewildering array of industry organizations to get together on areas of common interest, there can be little doubt. After all, how close are to we to achieving the industry’s public policy Holy Grail of parity? We aren’t close at all.

In the end, for sake of the still suffering alcoholic and addict, can’t we all be friends and advance our common agenda together?


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