In the past few weeks, there has been an influx of negative coverage from some very prominent voices in media, including the New York Times and most recently Megyn Kelly in an NBC News Investigation piece, about the issues that have been plaguing the South Florida recovery community. Bad news travels fast, and these days every bit of it goes viral. There is a lot to say about the topic. A lot has already been said, but this conversation means something very significant to a lot of people.
This is nothing new; stories from various sources have been published over the last few years. From local news outlets like the Sun Sentinel or Palm Beach Post, to more nationally (or internationally) known outlets like BuzzFeed, cautionary tales have been reaching out to warn people about the dangers of illegitimate and unregulated drug treatment and sober homes.
Reports have highlighted the devastation of the opioid overdose crisis, and rightfully so.
They have exposed some of the most apprehensible and illicit activities of patient brokers and fraudulent facilities.
The media has engaged in a full-on assault against the corruption and criminality of the South Florida drug treatment industry, and we have a few words for them…
THANK YOU… FINALLY!
With great gratitude, we thank the media for all the coverage of everything wrong with the treatment industry, because it is about time we all addressed these problems.
Finally, we have more people paying attention to the serious and life-threatening faults of shady and illegitimate drug rehab and sober home companies. Any number of the recent reports will show that for years unscrupulous con-artists have profited millions of dollars off of the suffering of some of the most vulnerable people in the country, under the pretense of providing some semblance of health care and therapeutic value.
For too long there have been grossly unethical practices involved in those abusing the treatment industry. Human trafficking in the form of patient brokering and providing drugs to relapsed addicts in order to defraud insurers are only part of this complex issue.
Thankfully, there are finally more proactive steps being taken to prevent these issues from continuing or escalating to even more extremes. The state attorney, along with the efforts of law enforcement and task forces, are taking more action against those who exploit the system. As far as the limits and loop holes, new legislation is being advanced. Arrests and raids are putting an end to many of these illegal enterprises.
“But there is hope”, as Cynthia McFadden on the NBC news video put it. As per the interview on Megyn Kelly’s program, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg states that they have made 29 arrests in Palm Beach County since last July, being patient brokers, treatment center owners, and corrupt doctors and with many more to come.
Thank you… but we need more action!
Respectfully, and with humility, we think we would all fare better without making statements that paint the entire treatment industry and the recovery community with a broad stroke of prejudice. Especially when it comes to distinguishing addiction treatment facilities from sober living facilities, because they are not the same thing. A lot of stories forget to mention that the issues with sober living may often have nothing to do with the treatment industry, and that almost no one ever send their loved ones to South Florida for sober living homes.To learn more about the difference between these two, subscribe to our blog and check out our FREE e-book:
5 Critical Mistakes To Avoid When Picking A Sober Home
Still, we should lay out all the facts.
Some reports will claim Florida has the worst overdose death rates in the nation. The only problem… it’s not even close to true.
For example: Florida actually had less overdose deaths per 100,000 people than 23 other states! These numbers include the top 5:
- West Virginia- 41.5 per 100,000 people
- New Hampshire- 34.3 per 100,000 people
- Kentucky- 29.9 per 100,000 people
- Ohio- 29.9 per 100,000 people
- Rhode Island- 28.2 per 100,000 people
Meanwhile, Florida is 24th on that list. Florida has experienced increasing rates of drug overdoses over the last few years, although still not in the top 3 states as of the most recent figures. Yet, people forget to note that overdose rates don’t necessarily mean overdose deaths. The distinction may seem small, but ask any addict and they will tell you there is a big difference.
Of course we should not ignore the bad, and we all know the opioid epidemic is bad and Florida has suffered greatly. But it is an equal injustice to ignore the facts plaguing the rest of the country. It is also unjust to condemn the treatment providers who still believe in doing the right thing. It is true that there are more unethical and illegal facilities than previous years. But to assume every facility qualifies for this kind of categorization is unfair, to say the least.
Let us not forget, South Florida is home to some of the best high-quality holistic drug and alcohol treatment in the country. There are numerous addiction treatment providers who have been serving South Florida and the recovery community for decades; helping countless people in pain while making consistent contributions to the sustained improvement of their clients and their communities.
But again, we thank those who are out there challenging the current system and demanding better care. This call to action means those of us willing to suit up and show up have all the more reason to keep doing what we believe in. It means anyone looking for treatment will know what to look for and what questions they need to ask, because this is vital to keeping their loved ones safe. Asking the right questions can lead you to the right kind of help.
All this means the South Florida treatment providers who are committed to helping people will step up and show that what we do makes a difference.
For a more detailed look into the difference between addiction treatment programs and sober living facilities, download our FREE e-book:
5 Critical Mistakes When Picking a Treatment Center and How to Avoid Them
The impacts of the indecent and deceitful practices that have touched the treatment industry are heartbreaking. We all see the dire tragedy of it, including those of us in the treatment industry who still believe in helping people who suffer.
Accredited and legitimate treatment providers are also impacted by these problems. Patient brokers will sometimes infiltrate high quality and honest facilities disguised as patients themselves in order to recruit patients to other illegally operated facilities. Brokers sell their victims false hope, with promises like:
- Material gifts
- Cash payments
- Free rent
Brokers can end up pulling patients out of treatment, against medical advice, in order to exploit their insurance benefits without equipping the individual with any level of care or even basic security. This terrible strategy is one of the obstacles that authentic treatment providers must frequently try to overcome; the outside influence of people trying to take advantage of the entire industry.
So again, THANK YOU. The more light we shine on the shady parts of what has happened, the more people will see where the greater danger exists. Addiction treatment in South Florida is NOT the problem; people who exploit addicts fighting a life and death battle and call it treatment… THAT is the problem. Not to mention the environment in the nation that is breeding this opioid crisis in the first place.
Our hope is, as we strive with all we can to improve how we care for and address substance use disorder and its related issues, that we can inspire others to see that real recovery is possible. We hope our dedication to creating lasting change in the lives of all the people who come to us for help will prove that people can recover, and that treatment does work.
Perhaps most importantly, we thank the media for raising awareness and igniting a conversation. Since the first few reports started to gain popularity, more people are talking about it. The momentum has created a greater platform, and we need to make it count. More people are connecting to the discussion, which means there is more hope than ever of finding a solution.
I will say what I said in an article last week, in case anyone missed it… we are in this together.
This unites all of us in a common objective- to end the extortion of the men and women, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers who need our compassion, now more than ever. With compassion, we can meet in the middle and have a real conversation. It means dropping the stigma of substance use disorder and having an open dialog about how we can all help each other make this country, not just South Florida but all of America, a better place for the addict who still needs help.
We still believe in the value of quality care. We still believe in the recovery community of South Florida, and because of it we are grateful that something is being done. While we still think there is plenty more to do, we are hopeful. If no one talks about it, no one will be willing to help fix it. Hopefully we will be able to move this conversation toward how we can best take care of each other, especially those who have already lost so much. Our mission is to take this topic from what is wrong with those who hurt people and turn it to what is right and what has been accomplished for the people who needed it most.
It is time we really work together to make a difference. Politicians, law enforcement, health care advocates, trustworthy and accredited treatment providers and members of the recovery community have to pull together and speak out about this if we ever want it to get better.
While some people may disagree with this piece and the delivery, the media has at least accomplished something- they have reminded us of an important part of the conversation. Surely, South Florida has an amazing recovery community, but if we pretend it is perfect it will never get better. Awareness might help us change everyone’s perspective.
So to the New York Times, Megyn Kelly, NBC News and all other news outlets, with gratitude and humility, hope and compassion… we thank you.
P.S. For more on this subject, like us on Facebook or subscribe to our blog. We look forward to keeping up the conversation.