Addicts for Sale? Not Everyone’s Buying


A little over a week ago an article was published on Buzzfeed.com titled Addicts for Sale. The Article was subtitled: In the rehab capital of America, addicts are bought, sold, and stolen for their insurance policies, and many women are coerced into sex. This well-written exposé discussed the deeply disturbing side of the substance use treatment world in South Florida.  The article discussed various topics such as the notorious “Junkie Hunters”, cases of insurance fraud being committed by rehabs, illegally enticing patients into treatment, and where such governing entities like DCF and Law enforcement aren’t being of much help. As soon as I saw the title, I couldn’t help but think “Finally! It’s about time someone is exposing this to the general public!” As I read on, I also remember thinking “Wow, this girl really did her homework. She even mentions the infamous Atlantic Ave. Starbucks that stranded addicts like to congregate in front of.”


As I typically like to do when an article like this hits the newsstands (AKA the internet), I decided to put an ear to the ground to find out what the rumblings in the rest of the substance use treatment community were saying about this editorial. The responses I got varied and some of them even shocked me (unintentionally, some of the responses painted the people giving them red with guilt, which made it clear to me that they were amongst the “shady few.”) One response in particular, though, brought me to a striking realization. Other than one sentence towards the end of the article, “There are many people in South Florida who are honestly trying to help addicts recover, and follow strict codes of ethics around how to behave.” there is no mention of the places that are actually providing praiseworthy care in South Florida!


Thanks to many of these unethical practitioners and so-called marketers, South Florida may now be known as the Relapse Capital of the world (more specifically Delray Beach), but the buzzfeed.com article forgets to mention that there are still many ethical facilities that are trying their absolute hardest to provide good care for these struggling addicts and alcoholics in South Florida. Facilities, like Evolutions Treatment Center located in Fort Lauderdale, and many others hold themselves to a higher standard than the ones being discussed in the article. Facilities that don’t contract “street marketers” or don’t use a website riddled with smoke and mirrors to lure unsuspecting patients to their facilities.


It’s also no surprise or shock to me that insurance companies have begun fighting back towards the substance use treatment community. I can’t say I blame them for not wanting to pay for a person’s 5th stay in a treatment facility in a year. Insurance cards are not meant to be used like black American Express cards! My issue, though, lies in the same problem that I have with that buzzfeed.com article, the good places are being lumped together with the bad! It’s almost like there’s an assumption that if you are a treatment center in south Florida you must be overbilling insurance companies, lying to patients to get them in, stealing from other facilities, overprescribing medications, over utilizing urinalysis testing, and are providing no level of clinical care. It’s just not true, and it’s not fair to us providing the highest standard of care.


Not all programs are owned or operated by someone who just recently got sober and has no clinical background. There are a handful of programs that do provide care by licensed clinicians, physicians, and psychiatrists (like we provide at Evolutions). My point is that, despite the horrendous behavior by many in this field, facilities that are doing the right thing deserve positive recognition from news agencies, insurance companies, and the rest of the country just as much as the bad places deserve the negative exposure. We don’t deserve the “blanket treatment” because many of us are not like those places at all! Unfortunately, from first-hand experience, I do realize how few and far between finding an ethical rehab can be.


In the end, this issue can be solved through education. Addicts, alcoholics, and the families that love them must become educated on what an ethical facility offers so that they can become mindful of the right questions to ask when seeking treatment. For example, they need to know that they can speak to someone other than the admissions office or “marketer” about what the program offers (typically an ethical facility’s clinical director will be happy to discuss the ins and outs of their respective programs). If a respectable, popular site like buzzfeed.com (or any other major news site) posted a follow up article on what a trustworthy facility should offer, the proper questions to ask when seeking treatment, and where to look for care when trying to decide on a place, it may reduce the number of people taken advantage of by what has become a corrupt system.


My hope remains the same as it did a year ago. I hope the “good guys” prevail through this darkened time and are left to provide adequate care to the ever-growing addiction population. For now, we are forced to hold on tight to our ethical boundaries, shield our eyes from the debris the media is flinging around about the community, and patiently wait for our day to rise again with our heads held high.


Seeking Treatment

The important thing in all of this is that you seek help for your drug addiction. Do not let fear keep you from the life you have always wanted. You do not need to fight this disease alone and any and all concerns that you have can be addressed as you move through the process of recovery. So call the professionals at Evolutions Treatment Center today, at 1-866-771-7091. We are standing by to help you finally overcome your addiction.


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