The critics are out there. The ones that say addiction treatment facilities care more about money and turning a profit, then they do about helping their patients. Understandably, those within the treatment industry will come to the defense of their company and policies. But, what if we were to agree? What if we told you, not everyone out there is “in it for the right reasons.” Unfortunately, a cancer within the field of addiction treatment exists today. Here’s what you need to know about the harsher side to the industry, something that is a reality, but can be stopped with proper regulation and getting informed.
One news report in Phoenix, Arizona most recently investigated what has now become rampant in their state; that is, patient brokering. Patient brokering is a term many in the treatment industry unfortunately have come to recognize more frequently. Patient brokering occurs when an individual from a rehab center refers patients to treatment, in exchange for cash payments, or “kick-backs.” In layman’s terms…selling patients. And, Arizona is not alone. Most recently, Florida went under intense regulation due to the infestation of selling addicts for cash. For years, Palm Beach was known as a recovery capital, with facilities opening all of the time. Little did anyone know, the best kept secret within Florida’s $1 billion treatment industry was that young drug users with good insurance were viewed as goldmines…and treated as such.
A Disturbing Reality
3TV in Phoenix caught some very candid footage as they sent undercover reporters in to capture these “body brokers” in action. One person who works in the treatment industry was caught on camera saying, “These undercovers go in, bring dope into rehabs to give people and say. ‘I’ll give you $500 and then you go to this place.’” That statement was in regards to how they specifically recruit addicts for certain facilities. Not only are these brokers bringing drugs into rehabs for patients to relapse on, but they are also going as far as bringing drugs to 12-step meetings, hospitals, and homeless shelters.
The news station also spoke with a recently fired intake worker of a treatment facility. The young man was admittedly early in recovery himself, and got caught selling patient information to other rehab centers. He told 3TV, “All I tried to do was help people get into treatment and get paid for it. I didn’t really do much. I just gave phone numbers to people. I was so low, bottom of the totem pole. It was just, that was that, and then I got paid.” Other than the fact that it is highly illegal, under HIPAA, to disclose patient information without written consent, it is downright immoral and unethical to use suffering individuals to turn a profit.
The list goes on. You’ll hear stories of body-brokers promising addicts free rent, food, clothes, video game consoles and cell phones, even the possibility of continuing to abuse drugs and alcohol. As long as the insurance policy will pay and reimbursement rates are high, these facilities continue to shuffle young users in and out of their beds. It has been reported that brokers can receive anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars for each individual patient they “refer” to addiction treatment. Interventionist Heather Hayes tells 3TV, patient brokering is equivalent to human trafficking.
Treatment industry insiders in Phoenix say the city has been flooded with body brokering because it’s unregulated and still remains legal. Nevertheless, State Representative Noel Campbell is entering a bill into the state health committee for debate, which would make patient brokering and kick-backs illegal.
Not A Fighting Chance
We are not really certain when selling patients became a popular trend throughout the addiction treatment community. Nevertheless, it has, and while many are arrested, fired, or go out of business, one thing remains. The addict still suffers. These young people are on the front lines of addiction, every day. It’s not easy for an addict to admit they need help, and when they finally do, they are tossed from one flop house to another; treated like a paycheck; like a means to an end.
Patient brokering, kick-backs, recruiting addicts and recycling them are all by far a new low, and obviously enough, these things give not ONE addict a fighting chance. Without patient care in mind, without the person’s health, well-being, and safety coming first, there is no room for success for anyone seeking help. One major unfortunate…these “body-brokers” literally have no idea the amount of harm they have or are causing to the addicted and their loved ones. For a family who has maybe one opportunity to help their son or daughter, may blow it in a facility that only cares about turning a profit.
Stories of inevitable relapse, overdose, and death have surfaced over the years. A young girl relapses while a resident at a sober home in South Florida and is then dropped off at a run-down motel. This young woman died of a drug overdose in that very motel. Would we really expect anything different from an addiction treatment facility whose philosophy is not patient care, but instead how to turn the largest profit?
A Threat To Recovery
Those of us in the addiction treatment industry that work for the patient, their well-being, and ultimately, their sobriety, rather than treating them as cash cows, understand how insidious of a threat patient brokering is to recovery, as well as the heroin epidemic. Entering treatment is a large step for anyone in active addiction. When an addict enters one of these programs (where brokering takes place), they are introduced to a system that is not an accurate depiction of the majority of the industry. They and their families put their trust in these facilities, only to turn around and feel betrayed. Their first impression of addiction treatment has been polluted with money-hungry body brokers looking to cash-in.
Due to this pollution, many suffering from the disease will not reach out for help again. They will turn away from the idea of 12-step meetings, because maybe that’s where they met the person who encouraged (or bribed) them into treatment in the first place. They say to themselves, “They’re only out for the money. I’m only a number to them. What’s the point, all of those places are the same.” And, could we really blame them, given their prior experiences? For an addict to stop asking for help, is to die. The death certificates will eventually be signed, the obituaries written, all continuously adding to skyrocketing number of drug overdoses throughout our country. More will die because they weren’t provided proper treatment.
Addiction Treatment At Clearbrook
At Clearbrook Treatment Centers, our sole responsibility is to provide quality drug and alcohol addiction treatment to the patient, in an environment that is conducive to early recovery. From 24-hour medical and clinical supervision, to customized treatment programming and aftercare planning, our patients’ recovery is top priority for our highly trained and experienced staff. We want to stress to anyone out there struggling with the idea of reaching out for help, not every addiction rehab center is like the ones we spoke about today. There are many out there, including ourselves that have one sole purpose in mind. That is, to treat the individual and their addictive diseases, encourage a life of recovery, and provide the necessary tools to do so.
If you or someone you love is suffering from the disease of addiction or alcoholism, please let us help. Contact our Admissions Specialists today for further information. Recovery is possible…and it starts with taking this first step.