Shady Business of Addiction

The Shady Business of Addiction

In an article by BuzzFeed news reporter Cat Ferguson entitled,  Addicts for Sale a spotlight is shined on the seedier side of the treatment and recovery industry of South Florida.  The article is a scathing commentary on some of the more despicable things taking place inside the incestous and dysfunctional relationship between halfway houses, rehab treatment centers and intensive outpatient programs for detox.  Some startling revelations are made by former addicts and marketing head-hunters who are actively spotting and recruiting drug addicts in order to cash in on their insurance policies.  


These body brokers are experts at spotting the transient lifestyle which so often characterizes a person with substance abuse issues.  They can typically be seen nursing cigarettes and Red Bull energy drinks while congregating near the local Starbucks off Atlantic Avenue.  They sometimes carry with them their suitcases and small amount of personal belongings bouncing from halfway houses and treatment centers when their insurance policies lapse or as a consequence for relapsing.  These junkie hunters are former addicts themselves and know how to look for the telltale signs of drug addiction.  


These marketers who are affiliated with treatment centers and halfway houses show a cold and calculating ruthlessness in scoping out these addict victims and then capitalizing off their sometimes lucrative private insurance policies.  Since the approval and implementation of Obamacare and the 2008 Parity Act the floodgates have been opened for rehab centers to make inordinate sums of money from the insurance reimbursements that come from keeping the drug user circulating through the revolving door of treatment based programs for as long as possible.  The more expensive the treatment and more services being rendered at these private care facilities the more money will be extracted from the policy.  Depending on the nature of the policy these marketers typically make anywhere from $200-$2,000 off their commissions from bringing in these deals.  This blatant process has become to be known as body broking and is highly illegal, however rarely enforced.  


Local Law Enforcement usually alerts the FBI of any cases of inappropriate patient brokering but by and large few people get into serious trouble over this practice.  It simply is too difficult and costly to prosecute on any meaningful level.  This offense is a third-degree felony under the Florida Patient Brokering Act but in effect amounts to little to nothing in terms of any kind of substantial punishment being meted out.  The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) is the governing body responsible for monitoring these treatment and rehab centers to make sure they comply with these laws but is undermanned and underfunded.  They merely are there to give the illusion that everything is hunky dory and operating above board, but when watching with a more scrutinizing eye this is anything but the case.  This is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the levels of depravity these immoral people will stoop to exploit and take advantage of drug addicts.


The scariest thing alluded to in this article was the conflicts of interest taking place at all different levels within these industries.  Sometimes the people operating these programs are users themselves who entice addicts with drugs just to get them to provide dirty urine samples to detox centers and comply with insurance reimbursement procedures.  But wait it gets worse.  Accusations abound of rape and even prostitution of some addicts while they are undergoing treatment at the very same center where they are supposed to be getting help.  This underscores the anemic mental health and integrity of some of these organizations.  


It should be emphasized that not all rehabilitation services are associated with such shady business practices.  Most are there to legitimately help the drug user get back on their feet and avoid the prospect of relapse down the line.  This is a case of a few bad apples tarnishing the reputation of the entire industry and it is unfair for the ones who are there for good reasons.  If you are in need of help don’t let this unfortunate story stop you from getting treatment.  It is important for you to do your due diligence and research your options.  We can help you put you in touch with the right treatment plans for your needs.  More importantly, we do things by the book here.  Give us a call we want to see you get healthy and thrive! 1-877-721-7719



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