Why No One Goes to Rehab During Election Season

By Hunter R. Slaton 10/18/12

According to one insider, uncertainty over who's going to win the White House makes many delay checking in for treatment.

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Michelle Bachmann doesn't know who
will win, either.
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Every four years, Americans of all political persuasions threaten to quit the country if their party loses the Presidential election. It’s become so commonplace, in fact, that JetBlue this year is even running an “Election Protection” promotion: You can win a free flight out of the country if your guy loses. But there’s another way in which Presidential uncertainty affects future plans—and that’s in rehab admissions. Authentic Recovery Center (ARC) founder Cassidy Cousens tells The Fix that, over his 12 years in the rehab biz—three top-office election cycles, in other words—he’s noticed a “significant drop” in treatment admissions from September through early November. But it’s not across the board. “We do a bunch of charity treatment, and the free [rehab] sector, the programs that are sponsored by the state or federal grants, don’t typically see a reduction,” says Cousens. “Where there seems to be a slowdown is in the boutique, mid- to high-end programs.”

Why should price make a difference? Cousens believes: “When people are talking about spending $25,000 to $80,000 [on treatment], uncertainty about their tax rates or what’s happening next April tends to cause people to delay a little bit, if it's not completely crisis-driven.” On top of that, the general economic bad vibes surrounding both this and the 2008 election have only amplified the phenomenon, which also has been observed in the retail world. Even though it’s just a theory, Cousens has asked around in the treatment industry, and, he says, "Everybody I know is fairly slow." It’s worth nothing that rehab-admission downturns aren’t evident in conjunction with state-level or midterm election seasons, or specific legislation. It’s pretty much strictly a Presidential-contest thing. 

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Hunter Slaton is the esports managing editor for Blizzard Entertainment. You can find hunter on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.

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