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Beware of nonmedical drug detox centers

California, like much of the nation, has a drug problem.

Unlike other parts of the nation, however, California also has a booming drug rehab problem as well.

How can a drug rehab be a problem? Isn't any place that helps people get off drugs a good thing?

No, not really.

There are rehab centers littered around California that essentially warehouse patients as they try to kick their habits "cold turkey," without medical care. Thriving on loopholes that allow them to collect an income from insurance companies anyhow, addicts play a game of chance that often has lethal outcomes.

These are things you should know:

1. Around one out of every three detox centers in California is a nonmedical detox.

2. Ads can be misleading. For example, "clinically supervised" or "medical care" can mean that there's always someone on duty who can perform CPR if a patient goes into cardiac arrest.

3. Nobody tracks the number of detox deaths in California so nobody knows how many people are dying as a result of the "intervention" of these nonmedical centers.

4. Addicts who have other medical complications -- like pneumonia or liver failure -- can't expect any treatment for those conditions either while in a nonmedical detox center.

5. Nonmedical detox is considered so dangerous that most other states forbid it entirely. These California facilities manage to get insurance companies to pay through loopholes -- even though they aren't really providing much in the way of an actual service.

6. They've also been known to lure in out-of-state patients only to kick them out when the insurance runs dry.

Anyone exploring drug detox programs for themselves or someone else needs to remember that detox is dangerous. The person going through detox, if not medically supervised, can suffer organ failure, seizures and heart attacks, among other things. The human body becomes dependent on the drugs it is used to ingesting -- abrupt withdrawal isn't the best way to handle detox.

Because detox is so deadly, patients deserve comprehensive medical care and close supervision. If a patient dies as a result of negligent care, his or her survivors should consider all their legal options. It's possible that a wrongful death suit -- or even criminal charges -- could be appropriate.

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