Top 10 states with substance abuse counselor problems

Ever heard of the National Practitioner Data Bank? Since 1986, this federal listing helps our health system track medical professionals who are not to be trusted. Which states have declared the most defunct Substance Abuse Counselors? Not surprisingly: the wild, wild West.

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Since 1986, state licensing boards, hospitals, professional societies and other health care settings have been working together to identify and discipline medical professionals who act unprofessionally.  Federal law permits a national database to be shared among qualifying agencies to help restrict the ability of health care practitioners to move from state to state. This National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) augments traditional forms of credentials review but alerts medical institutions to adverse licensing, membership, malpractice and clinical privilege changes.  Yes, dodgy doctors do still exist among us.

The National Practitioner Data Bank also puts out anonymous reports by state of adverse actions performed by types of medical professionals. Here are the top 10 states who have registered some type of problem in licensure, clinical privileges, professional society membership or peer review for licensed Substance abuse counselors from 9/1/90 to 5/22/10:

1. Arizona (409 cases)
2. Colorado (228 cases)
3. Texas (117 cases)
4. Utah (54 cases)
5. Maine (17 cases)
6. Montana (11 cases)
7. Connecticut (7 cases)
8. District of Columbia (5 cases)
9. New Mexico (3 cases)
10.Tennessee (2 cases)

All of this data lends the question, “What’s going on in the southwest???” Anyone have any insight here? Is this simply because these states are complying with reporting regulations? Or are the professional substance abuse counselors in AZ, CO, TX and UT simply more likely to be caught doing something wrong? Or are counselors in these states actually not practicing according to licensing requirements? Is the west still wild? Comments welcome!

Click here for a list of state licensing medical boards which govern medical practices, including doctors, nurses and professionals who specialize in addiction.Reference source:
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. Hi Concerned. Thanks for giving us a more complete picture of what’s happening in Arizona. That helps explain why the number of cases is so high there. Do you know what kinds of transgressions the State Board acts on that seem unreasonable?

  2. The problem in Arizona is that the State Board in run by a woman who is on a witch hunt. She makes up the Laws as she goes along and attacks Therapists for the most minute transgressions. In addition, if you look on the AZBBHE website, you will see how incredibly easy it is to file a complaint as opposed to most other states who caution those with a complaint as to the repercussions. Therapists in AZ live in constant fear of the Board, it is very scary.

  3. Dr. Burson – Thank you very much for sharing this insider’s view and explaining how and why an MD might be added to the database. In learning about the NPDB, I try to read between the lines; as with any government initiative, it seems that there is a fraction of the population adversely affected by reporting regulations. I appreciate and sympathize with you and your colleagues.

  4. It sounds as if you think if a doctor is reported to the National Practitioner Database, it means she is a bad doctor. I challenge that view. One of the best doctors I know – kind, compassionate, intelligent – was sued for malpractice by a disgruntled family of a patient who died of a drug overdose. My friend was in no way responsible but his insurance company settled because it’s cost effective with nuisance claims. His settlement had to be reported to the NPB. I was reported to the NPD because I resigned my medical license while seeking care for a medical illness. And I think I am an excellent doc. I’m certified by two boards, and I work hard to do what’s right for the patient.

    Much of what you’ll read in the database is about physicians who were diagnosed with drug or alcohol addiction, and had to enter treatment. These doctors may be in successful recovery for decades, yet the information will forever remain in the database.

    It’s not good to jump to conclusions.

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