According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, it is estimated that 23
million Americans age 12 and older are addicted to drugs or alcohol. According to data from 2012,
SAMHSA estimated that only 11 percent of individuals in need of substance abuse treatment received
If there is such a high need for treatment, why don’t more people seek help? The answer to this
question is multifaceted. There is still a huge stigma associated with addiction. Many in need of
addiction treatment do not seek treatment because they are embarrassed, ashamed or feel their need
for treatment is some “moral failing”. In addition, many people do not even know treatment is available
and they often do not know where to start the process. Furthermore, many people simply believe that
treatment does not work.
The American Medical Association has recognized alcohol and substance use as a disease/disorder since
1966. We are learning more about the biological underpinnings of addiction every day. To be sure,
addiction cannot simply be reduced to a biological phenomena. Like most behaviors, there is an
interaction between biology, psychology, sociology and environment that all intersect that give rise to
the expression of addiction and addictive/compulsive behavior. We do know that addiction is simply
not a moral failure. Willpower and resiliency factor into a person’s capability of achieving and
maintaining sobriety. However, it is not lack of willpower that is the exclusive or only cause of addiction.
Understanding and accepting this premise is one of the keys to asking for help.
Treatment works. Study after study demonstrates that treatment works. That is not to say that all
treatment is equally effective for all individuals. Moreover, the effectiveness of treatment depends on
how one measures effectiveness and outcomes. But treatment does work. Understanding and
believing this is also key to seeking help.
The treatment industry generates more than 35 billion dollars in revenue each year. This is a staggering
figure. There is no doubt that substance abuse treatment is big business. This is further illustrated by
the influx of private equity into substance abuse facilities and the over saturation of the substance
abuse market generally and specifically in New Jersey. Investors now view the epidemic of substance
abuse as opportunity to generate profit and with wildly huge margins enticing more and more non-
substance abuse professionals to invest in and open treatment facilities.
I do not want to use the above to be self-aggrandizing, but Excel is a privately owned business. I am
proud to say there are no investors in Excel and the people working at Excel along with the owner of
Excel are dedicated substance abuse and mental health professionals. Why is this important? It is
important because it is our promise to all of our clients and their families that when they come to us for
help, they will be more than a number or a case rate. They will be a person who entrusts us with their
well-being. We do not have investors to answer to. This allows us to make clinical decisions based upon
clinical information, not Profit and Loss Balance Sheets.
If you or a loved one needs help, I encourage you to seek assistance. Treatment really does work!
Choose a place where you are comfortable, where you are treated with respect and where you are more
than just a number, you are a person.