Texas Faith-based Chemical Dependency Programs
Recent Executive Orders by President George W. Bush are raising important questions about the safety and effectiveness of faith-based programs. The key questions are:
answer these questions, I took a hard look at the Texas experience with
1997, the Texas legislature, under the leadership of then Governor George W.
Bush, passed House Bill (HB) 2481, which became effective in 1998.
This legislation provides faith-based addiction treatment programs with
an exemption from all state program licensure requirements and state oversight.
There are only two restrictions:
2481 specifically exempts faith-based treatment programs from:
essence, HB 2481 makes it possible for any faith-based organization to provide
any form of addiction treatment or counseling to addicted people and their
families without any base-line standards or oversight.
four exemptions that HB 2481 provides to faith-based organizations, are the
basic foundation of all current national licensure and accreditation standards
for addiction programs. This basic
foundation is essential to assure the safety and effectiveness of addiction
programs and the people using them.
four foundational building blocks are so essential that they are the basis for
defining malpractice. To be charged
with malpractice there must be a failure to meet usual and customary
standards for treatment. By
exempting faith-based programs from basic foundational standards, it becomes
difficult to use malpractice laws to hold faith-based programs accountable
should dangerous practices cause harm.
sense tells us that the safety and effectiveness of addiction treatment can only
be assured if:
Most national addiction licensure and credentialing boards take the following position:
assure the safety and effectiveness of addiction treatment, treatment programs
need to operate under the protective umbrella of mandatory oversight that can
identify and act to protect addicts from dangerous facilities and practices.
programs in Texas are specifically exempted from the very standards needed to
assure their safety and effectiveness.
of February 6, 2001, Texas has granted exemptions to approximately ninety
faith-based addiction programs. The
programs qualified for these exemptions by completing the following process:
is important to note that Texas does not provide funding for faith-based
programs. Texas allows
faith-based programs to receive an exemption from facility, program, staff, and
monitoring requirements imposed upon all other treatment programs.
Getting A Faith-based Exemption
In order to get an exemption as a Faith-Based Chemical Dependency Treatment Program , an application must be submitted that documents two things:
specific language of the application is contained in Section 464.052, Subchapter
C of the Health and Safety Code (HB 2481, 75th Legislature) [http://www.tcada.state.tx.us/rules/145/figure1.html]
and reads as follows:
I claim exemption to licensure as a chemical
dependency treatment facility. I claim this exemption as a Faith-Based Chemical
Dependency Treatment Program and I attest the statements below are true and
the chemical dependency treatment program is conducted by a religious
organization; [A] religious organization as defined means a church, synagogue,
mosque, or other religious institution … the purpose of which is the
propagation of religious beliefs; and … that is exempt from federal income tax
under the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C.), Section 501 (a) being listed as an
exempt organization under Section 501 (c) of that code (26 U.S.C. Section 501
the chemical dependency treatment program is exclusively religious,
spiritual, or ecclesiastical in nature;
the chemical dependency treatment program does not treat minors;
upon any change affecting the exemption of this program, I will notify
the Commission in writing within 10 working days; and
I have read, understand, and will comply with Commission Rules pertaining
to this exemption.
Do Texas Faith-based Programs Work?
now there is no way to tell if Texas Faith-based Chemical Dependency Programs
are safe or effective. In other words, we
don't know if they work or not! Why?
programs are exempted from objective oversight and systematic monitoring that
allows objective evaluation. I
could not find any study documenting the outcome of Texas Faith-based Programs.
This means that recent claims that faith-based programs are safe and
effective are probably no more than personal opinion based on wishful thinking
rather than evidence.
further information on the rules governing Texas faith-based programs you can
contact The Texas Commission On Alcohol And Drug Abuse (TCAADA), P.O Box 80529,
Austin, Texas 78753-5233, 512/349-6600.
Gorski can be contacted through his professional development website www.tgorski.com;
his publications website www.relapse.org;
or his business website www.cenaps.com.
He can be reach by telephone at 708-799-5000.