NAATP: updated code of ethics for rehabs

This code of generally acceptable ethical practices is seen as a dynamic statement that has the acceptance of each member and associate member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers.


PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL, June 20, 2014 -Adapting to growth and change in the fast-paced world of addiction treatment has become the norm for the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. The area of ethics is no exception, and in keeping with a 35-year history of leadership – and in response to increasing competitive pressures in the field – NAATP has revised and updated its Code of Ethics for member organizations.

The association formally rolled out its new Code of Ethics at its 2014 Leadership Conference last month in Charlotte, NC.

The 2014 update of its Code of Ethics is the latest chapter in a 35-year legacy of leadership, according to NAATP President and CEO Michael Walsh. “Ethical conduct in our industry has become a priority for our association,” he said. “Articulating and adhering to the highest standards for ethical practice for our member agencies, as well as for the NAATP Board of Directors and the general public, is integral to our continued to success ”

Committee chair Bob Ferguson, CEO of Jaywalker Lodge in Colorado, led a team committed to revising and updating the association’s Code of Ethics.

“What the updated NAATP code offers is a common-sense approach to balancing ‘mission versus margin’ in an addiction treatment landscape that keeps changing,” said Ferguson. “Our committee sees that addiction treatment is at an ethical crossroads, with so many factors intensifying competition in the field-and so there is increased temptation to engage in questionable practices such as paying for referrals or making misleading comments to families about the extent of their insurance coverage.”

With the impetus of Ferguson and Walsh and the full support of the board, The NAATP Code of Ethics was drafted with close attention to marketing provisions barring the offering of any financial rewards or substantive gifts for patient referrals, and prohibiting any predatory competitive activity on the part of members.

“The new social media landscape has made it easier for consumers and families to rail against or praise a treatment center in a very public forum,” continued Ferguson. He noted that online consumers are vulnerable to unethical claims made by healthcare providers in the online and social media market space; and that “NAATP needed a wide-ranging document that will be evolving and dynamic to address the emergence of the visible and vocal American consumer.”

Other sections in the NAATP Code of Ethics govern how members handle issues around treatment, management, facilities and marketing. Examples of provisions include, under treatment, “Continuing care (or ‘aftercare’) services are considered essential to the continuum of care,” and, under management, “Fee structures are made available to the public.”

Walsh and his board have been addressing industry concerns and consolidating a unified ‘voice of recovery’ on the issues facing treatment institutions in North America today, and the new NAATP code is a major step to promoting more ethical behavior in the treatment industry.

“NAATP is more vital than ever before and engaged in spotlighting matters such as Ethics, in addition to The Affordable Care Act, Medication Assisted Therapy, Marijuana Laws, Overdose Deaths and the prescription drug epidemic along with ambitious initiatives like the NAATP Parity Study and Healthcare Reform State Packet,” said Walsh. “New and renewing members of the provider association will have to sign off on the ethics code, as well as demonstrate that they carry the appropriate licenses for operation. The question of how and whether to police adherence to the code’s mandates continues to be open for lively discussion within the association.”

In the coming months NAATP will continue its education on ethical issues by launching an Ethics Forum in the NAATP quarterly newsletter; and via upcoming presentation at several industry gatherings, including a panel at the National Conference on Addiction Disorders (NCAD) this August.

The focus of these initiatives will be for NAATP to provide ongoing education, leadership and to generate diverse feedback from its member organizations about ethical problems in the field.