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Complaint Review: Drug Rehab Deception: Addiction Treatment Industry Rocked By Fraud & Abuse. - USA

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  • Reported By: ED Magedson - Founder, Ripoff Report — Tempe Arizona United States
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  • Drug Rehab Deception: Addiction Treatment Industry Rocked By Fraud & Abuse. 216 St Marys Lake Rd USA United States

Drug Rehab Deception: Addiction Treatment Industry Rocked By Fraud & Abuse. Patients made into prostitutes and sex slaves, Centers encouraging drug abuse, bilking insurance companies out of millions. Ripoff Report Investigates … this article sponsored by A Forever Recovery

Do Your Homework Before Choosing a Drug Rehab or Treatment Center. Ripoff Report Investigates

This publication of RipoffReport Investigates was sponsored by A Forever Recovery a Ripoff Report Verified™ Drug Rehab and a progressive provider in the field of substance abuse treatment who continues to seek effective and efficient ways to treat the proliferation of alcohol and illicit drug abuse throughout the country.

To report abuse, please file a report with Ripoff Report.

To get immediate quality help for yourself, friend or family member, call 1-866-639-5612.

  • Drug rehabs are largely unregulated, routinely staffed with non-medical professionals
  • Leading medical professionals claim a 95% failure rate for drug rehabs for decades
  • The industry has been plagued with shocking claims of patient abuse for decades


By ED Magedson – Ripoff Report

When Kenny Chatman received a 27 ½ year federal sentence in 2017 for crimes arising out of his operation of a drug rehab center, his lawyer offered an interesting explanation as Chatman had no prior experience in drug treatment when he opened his first sober home in 2012.  “He walked into an industry that is infected. He became another infected member.”

Chatman’s conviction for turning patients into prostitutes and sex slaves, and encouraging drug abuse at his drug rehab center, all while bilking insurance companies out of millions, may seem sensational, but many elements of his case are hardly unique.

Drug Rehab: Ripoff Report Investigates Corruption within Addiction Treatment Centers in the USA from Ripoff Report on Vimeo.

The US Addiction Problem

The current rate of drug addiction in the US has turned drug rehab centers into a significant growth industry.  Drug rehabs are portrayed in the media as everything from victims to villains.  On one end of the spectrum is sympathetic reporting on a lawsuit recently brought in Michigan by a former University of Michigan football player against the city of Detroit.  Former All-American running back William Taylor Jr. filed a federal lawsuit alleging Detroit city and zoning officials are discriminating against drug addicts by catering to preconceived stereotypes and denying them a place to get better.

The drug rehab center was likely needed as Michigan has one of the nation’s most severe addiction crisis.  A recent article ranked Michigan as the state with the nation’s fourth most significant drug addiction problem. Detroit is known for being one of the hardest hit cities when it comes to drugs, but Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Shelly Edgerton called the opioid epidemic “a public health crisis that has affected every community in Michigan.”

Taylor's center for recovering addicts was shut down after an area property association asserted that it was a nuisance and a threat to public safety.  Also cited was the claim that it scared away potential new home buyers and hurt the neighborhood's historic image. 

But there are also a plethora of stories reporting on the negative aspects of drug rehabs.  Some, like the aforementioned Chatman case, involve sensational allegations of prostitution, human trafficking, and insurance fraud.  There are well-documented reports of drug rehabs morphing into cults, like Synanon, essentially becoming a cultish criminal organization merely posing as a drug rehab

Drug addiction professionals claim that every industry has bad actors and that drug rehabs should not be judged harshly because of a few egregious examples.  Yet it is now the very essence of the drug rehab industry that is being questioned.

Abuse Through Treatment Deception

The industry in its current state is ripe for abuse.  There are no national accreditation standards for addiction treatment and very little in the way of regulations.  Additionally, there is no accountability for facilities and programs that do not provide treatment that is consistent with medical standards and proven treatment practices.   Without accreditation standards, drug addiction rehabilitation and treatment facilities have great flexibility to design and implement programs as they choose, with little regard to accepted medical standards or proven methods of success.

Because there are few standards or regulations, there is a significant gap between the knowledge and education available for drug addiction treatment and the education and training received by many of those employed by drug rehabs.  It is widely believed that most of those who provide drug addiction treatment are not adequately trained or educated to provide effective treatment for drug addiction.  Without adequate education and training, staff members lack the knowledge, skills and credentials needed to provide proper drug treatment and therapy.

Additionally, many treatment facilities do not perform adequate background checks on prospective employees and are thus often are staffed by convicted felons or employees that had been fired by other drug rehabs for misconduct.  

30 Day Rehab Programs

The typical inpatient drug rehab program lasts for 30 days.  Due to the typically high costs of these programs, many if not most patients and families can only afford one month of treatment.  Research shows than many people have what is clinically termed as “chronic addiction.”  This form of addiction requires individualized and continuous care that lasts for months or even years.  

Some studies question the efficacy of the traditional 30 day program.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, research shows that most addicted individuals need at least three months in treatment to significantly address their drug addiction.  Benefits of long-term treatment include time for withdrawal period to pass, time to assess and address co-occurring mental disorders, and time to address other underlying factors contributing to the addiction. 

The fact is that the standard 30 day program does not necessarily afford time to heal from the physical side effects of drug or alcohol abuse, time to learn positive coping strategies to reduce chance of relapse, or time to learn and reinforce positive behaviors.  Added time also smooths the transition out of treatment and into recovery.

Many experts believe that longer inpatient drug rehabilitation increases long-term recovery success. Some go so far as to say that the single most critical component to success is time. There are factors across the board that can impact the success of a short-term or longer inpatient drug rehab stay, but generally a longer stay in drug rehab is equated with positive outcomes, largely due to increased time.  Yet 30 day programs are typically the default recommendation. 

So it should be of no surprise that relapse is part of the purported recovery process.  This leads to claims that for drug rehab centers, there is a financial incentive for failure.  Less than half of people who enter drug rehab even complete the process, with a claimed “success rate” of about thirty percent.

But claimed success rates vary wildly.  Some professional observers claim the actual rate of success for drug rehabs is five percent.  What this shows is that the drug rehab industry is quite adept at taking credit for success, and equally as skilled at blaming poor results on the patient.

Success-Based Programs? Not So Fast

Few drug rehab programs provide refunds when a patient does not complete the program or if the patient relapses after completion of the program.  The drug rehab centers are quick to blame failure on the patient and convincing the patient that he or she must return to the program to cure their drug addiction.  This provides an opportunity for the drug rehab operators to charge their onerous admission fees again. Because they are rarely held accountable for failing to provide adequate or promised services, drug rehabs are able to maintain a cycle likened to the of extorting money from patients and their families.

"This is an entire industry that's been corrupted by easy money," said Palm Beach County's top prosecutor, Florida State Attorney Dave Aronberg.  "Unscrupulous actors have taken advantage of well-intended federal law, and a lack of any good law at the state level, to profit off people at the lowest stages of their lives."

Those looking for quick profits found the country's opioid epidemic had provided them with a trove of desperate people ready for exploitation, many young and hooked on pills or heroin, and access to a deep pool of insurance dollars. Many untrained professionals got in on the business. Substance abuse treatment became a gold rush.

In Palm Beach County, a network of treatment centers and sober homes had until fairly recently just scraped by. In the past few years, however, it has become a $1 billion business, according to the Palm Beach Post's calculations.

 “It's like hustling humans," said Drew, a 21-year-old from West Virginia who was living in a sober home in Delray Beach last February. "They'll take extra insurance money and pay you to live there and just let you get high because the owner's making bank."

Do Your Homework Before Choosing a Drug Rehab or Treatment Center

Those in need of treatment for drug addiction, as well as their families, would be best served by learning about drug rehab before making a commitment to any program.  Patients should consider the setting they desire as well as the length of the drug rehab program required.  And it is important to consider the four recognized steps to recovery: assessment, detox, therapy, and aftercare.  A successful treatment program must include all of these steps.

Choosing a viable drug rehab program involves carefully considering three main criteria: level of addiction, budget, and time constraints.  More intensive programs (like residential treatment centers) are for people who have strong or dangerous drug addictions, are struggling with other mental illnesses, and lack strong support systems like family and friends.  Conversely, someone who has a very supportive home environment, lacks a history of rehab programs, and is not strongly addicted to dangerous drugs, may be better off with less-intensive options like support groups or out-patient individual counseling.

Also important is recognizing the main reasons for drug rehab to fail.  A major reason for failure is the absence of dual diagnosis as drug addiction is often linked to mental health conditions.  Lax screening procedures is another factor widely cited in the relapse of drug addicts.

Perhaps the most significant factor in drug rehab failure is under-qualified drug addiction treatment staff.  With little in the way of meaningful oversight or regulations, almost anyone can be a drug addiction counselor.  Many such counselors are former drug addicts with little or no formal training.  

Aftercare & Relapse

Finally, a lack of aftercare is cited as a major factor in relapse among drug rehab patients.

The failure of drug rehabs to achieve meaningful recovery percentages flows largely from the unregulated nature of the industry.  While about a dozen states have begun to impose cursory regulations, most seem to encourage as free a market as is possible.  California, with its notorious lack of regulation, is widely known in the industry as “Rehab Riviera.”

Several California cities have some of the densest concentrations of drug rehab and alcohol treatment centers in the nation, certainly far more than their local populations could ever require.  Many local residents believe that this influx of drug-addicted outsiders gravely impacts their communities.

For example, Malibu has 47 licensed centers, the same number as the entire state of Rhode Island. Costa Mesa has 102 licensed centers, more than the states of Mississippi, Nevada, Alaska, Arkansas and Montana, according to state and federal data.  It should be no surprise that drug rehab facilities flock to unregulated jurisdictions, while shunning states with more robust regulatory schemes.  

The Southern California News Group investigated the drug addiction treatment industry and found it peppered with financial abuses that bleed untold millions from public and private pockets, can upend neighborhoods, and often fails to set addicts on a path to sobriety. Lax government regulation and highly questionable treatment approaches have resulted in poor/sub-par care for many. The revolving door between detox centers, treatment facilities, sober living homes, and often, the streets, generates huge money for operators who know how to financially exploit the system.

The current lack of regulations can only invite more abuse.  Stronger state and federal regulatory schemes are needed to protect patients and assure proper, medically sound treatment.  Absent meaningful regulations, akin to what is required for other providers of medical care, the current wild-west environment in the drug rehab industry and its predictable abuses, along with abysmal rates of success in curing drug addiction, will likely continue and proliferate.

To get immediate quality help for yourself, friend or family member, call 1-866-639-5612.

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ED Magedson - Founder, Ripoff Report consumers, for consumers
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