Sober Home Archives -
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Dave Aronberg Talks How to Fight Fraud in Treatment Industry

Dave Aronberg Talks How to Fight Fraud in Treatment Industry

8 months ago, Florida was home to 953 licensed drug treatment centers, and 207 were in Palm Beach County. As of April 1, there are now 185 in Palm Beach, with 771 in the whole state. This decrease is due to the crackdown on fraud by Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office, which has led to 45 arrests in the last year and a half. So far, those arrests have led to 16 convictions. For State Attorney Dave Aronberg there is no sign of slowing down.

Recently, Dave Aronberg spoke with Opioid Watch to talk about the work his office has been doing to try and strengthen the addiction treatment industry. Chief Assistant State Attorney Alan Johnson also sat down to talk about how Palm Beach County is fighting to protect those who are coming to Florida for help. Johnson heads the office’s Sober Homes Task Force.

Dave Aronberg VS Purdue Pharma

 According to Aronberg, he got involved with opioid-related issues back in 2001, when he was an assistant attorney general. Aronberg says he was asked by his boss, Bob Butterworth, to investigate Purdue Pharma. This Big Pharma giant is the producer of OxyContin. This powerful prescription opioid has been credited with making a heavy contribution to the opioid crisis. Dave Aronberg was to examine the marketing practices of Purdue Pharma, and is quoted in the interview transcript stating:

“I believe we were one of the first in the country.”

Of course, now Purdue Pharma is one of many big name pharmaceutical companies being accused in lawsuits across America. In fact, Delray Beach, Florida recently filed its own case against the company.

When asked about what he found, Aronberg said that Purdue was marketing the product like it was Advil. Purdue has been repeatedly accused of pushing this product as if it was far less dangerous than it actually was. In 2002, Dave Aronberg was elected to state senate, and shortly afterward the case against Purdue was settled. In the edited interview transcript, Aronberg is quoted:

“Purdue also offered $2 million to the state to establish its first prescription drug monitoring program. I worked in the state senate to get the PDMP enacted into law. But some conservatives refused to go along. They thought it was Big Government. So Purdue’s $2 million went away, because the offer expired. We didn’t get the PDMP till 2011. By then the carnage was horrific.”

Furthermore, Opioid Watch notes that a Purdue spokesperson confirmed that the state failed to implement a PDMP by July 1, 2004, which was the expiration of the companies offer.

Dave Aronberg Goes to Congress

In December of 2017, Aronberg went in front of Congress to testify concerning fraud and abuse in the addiction treatment industry. In this meeting, they discussed various issues with shady facility operators in Florida and made suggestions on how the law could step in to change it and protect patients. The interview transcript quotes Aronberg:

“In recent years, we’ve had an influx of unscrupulous operators who enrich themselves by exploiting those in recovery. As a consequence, we’re attracting thousands of young people from throughout the country into fraudulent rehab centers. (We’re talking about some, not all. There are good rehab centers, too.)”

Again, Aronberg found himself at battle with shady marketing practices. While investigating the treatment industry, Aronberg’s office discovered illegal operations that not only manipulated insurance providers but put patients at extreme risk.

From patient brokering, where illicit actors would sell patients with insurance to the highest bidders, to illegal kickback schemes being run by sober homes to outpatient treatment programs. Chief Assistant State Attorney Alan Johnson added information about the exploitation of urine analysis costs, and even some programs that began billing insurers for allergy and DNA testing. Aronberg states:

“We have a doctor who billed $7 million in nine months for allergy tests.”

Needless to say, the task force and state officials had their work cut out for them.

The ACA, ADA, and FHA

When talking about the many scams being run by various illegitimate businesses, the conversation came back to insurance and how these cons run. Here Dave Aronberg talks about his beliefs on how the law should step in and help restructure the current system.

“Number one: Change the Affordable Care Act’s fee reimbursement model to an outcome-based reimbursement model. Where the good providers are rewarded and the bad ones are paid less. Right now, the opposite occurs, so the more times you fail, the more money you get. There’s an incentive for more services and for more relapse. That shouldn’t be.”

After talking about the issues with the ACA, he talked about the ADA and FHA.

“The second change we need is this: the Americans with Disabilities Act and Federal Housing Act have been misused and exploited by bad actors who own flophouses.”

He went on to say,

  “Local governments are largely prohibited from overseeing the sober home industry. If they want to require mandatory inspections, certifications, and registrations, they’re likely prohibited under federal law.”

In essence, Aronberg believes the law should allow local governments to create their own guidelines for health, safety and the general welfare of the patients. None of these demands seems outlandish, and with reasonable regulation, the reputable and effective providers in this industry can continue to best serve the South Florida recovery community.

Aronberg also points out that the problem is not only in Florida. Recently, he went to Orange County, California to meet with officials dealing with the same situation. Next for Dave Aronberg is leading the national task force of 34 prosecutors in 30 states. Their goal is to produce a working paper for setting best practices for prosecutors all over America concerning these issues. The task force also intends to make suggestions for changes to federal and state laws.

What might be most surprising though is the mention of harm reduction strategies?

“It’s about prevention, drug treatment, and innovative strategies. I think it will be powerful because it’s going to be prosecutors talking about needle exchanges and disposal and safe injection sites. People assume prosecutors are going to be focusing only on mandatory minimums and longer sentences. That’s not what this is about. I think it’s going to surprise people.”

While needle exchanges and safe injection sites have been proposed in numerous states, it is not the most popular idea. San Francisco is actually on track to open the first safe injection site in America, with Philadelphia not far behind, and Seattle and Baltimore in the conversation as well.

With Aronberg and the task force working to make a difference, hopefully, we will see the right change soon. We hope it will make the recovery community stronger as a whole. Reputable and respected providers are also doing their part to refine their practices while implementing innovative and effective resources to ensure that those who with drug or alcohol addiction always have a safe place in Palm Beach County to get the help they need. With the opioid crisis ongoing, having real resources for opioid treatment is still an essential part of overcoming the problem.

Palm Healthcare Company is a leader in holistic addiction treatment with over 20 years of helping people from all over the country heal mind, body and spirit. Providing safe and comprehensive care should always be a focus in the effort to overcome the drug problem, and preservation of life should always be a priority. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Let’s Not Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater!

Let’s Not Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater!

Let’s Not Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater!

by Thomas G. Beley, PhD, LCSW

There has been an enormous amount of negative publicity regarding substance use treatment facilities and so called “sober homes” in the south Florida area. So much so that the integrity of the entire treatment industry has been under scrutiny. And perhaps so it should be.  Given the accounts of fraudulent billing, “patient brokering,” and human trafficking occurring, it is disheartening to know that we continue to live in a society where vulnerable groups of people are preyed upon for monetary gain.  There is a definite need to take a closer look at what is actually going on.  However, let’s not let the emotional sensationalism of these news stories cloud the facts and issues of what is really going on.

The Facts

Our nation is currently under siege by a problem that has been a long standing health issue that seemingly continues to be the “step child” of our healthcare system despite the fact that it is one of the leading contributing causes of death in our country.  Addiction has become a menace to our society. Illegal drug use, legalized drug use, prescription medications, and alcohol have infiltrated all segments of our population.  While pharmaceutical companies have well intentionally figured out ways to introduce an assortment of new medications to combat the side effects of prescribed opioid medications, deaths from opioid overdoses have become the number one cause of accidental deaths in the United States outnumbering car accidents.

The problem of addiction is not going away and, unfortunately, it is only going to get worse. The fact is that we need treatment centers and we need “sober” homes. They have been a main stay for people suffering from the scourge of alcohol and drug addiction for decades.  What we do not want to do is to scare people away from getting the help they need.  Let’s not forget that there are many established quality treatment centers and “sober” homes throughout the nation.

The Confusion

One of the problems that legitimate treatment centers have encountered is the limitation that insurance companies have placed on them in providing effective treatment.  Treatment is often cut short by insurers, often citing “there is no medical necessity” in favor of a less intensive program meaning they are often discharged from the facility without really getting the full care that is needed.  As a result, there has been a proliferation of these “less intensive” treatment programs which is where the insurance loophole begins to expand. Many of these “less intensive” programs are ineffective at best because of a lack of credentialed professionals running them, or they have been established with the sole purpose of milking the insurance companies of benefits.

A problem is occurring that many of these well-established treatment facilities and “sober homes,” historically known as halfway and three-quarter houses, are being overshadowed by these bogus; make shift facilities that have taken advantage of the insurance loophole.  Make no mistake, some of these places have little interest in providing the necessary help needed to address those suffering from an addictive disorder.  The primary goal is to make money. Their sole purpose is to prey on a vulnerable population, many of the victims are young adults in their early twenties with little or no life skills who are still on their parents’ insurance.  Many of these individuals have been in the throes of their addiction for years and have little choice.  Either they and the family do not know any better or they simply feel resigned to play along within a deficient system.

Many of these victims are offered easy money to recruit other patients to live in a so-called “sober home” who will often have connections with a so-called “treatment” facility.  In many instances, there is an established unethical relationship of “brokering” whereby there is an exchange of money for patients between the “sober” home and the “treatment” facility.  Each supplying the other with a steady stream of “insured” bodies.  Patients are actually encouraged to go out and recruit other patients from other “sober” homes and treatment facilities in exchange for money, free room and board, or both. In some instances, the owner of the “sober” home also owns the “treatment” facility.

Many people leaving a bona fide treatment facility will need a halfway or three-quarter house for support and a transition back into sober living.  However, a legitimate half-way or three-quarter house, now often referred to as a “sober home,” will be just that, a place where people can live and receive the necessary support and structure to transition back to a normal life.  The halfway and three-quarter house has been an integral part of recovery since addiction was recognized as a medical condition decades ago.  The concept of the halfway and three-quarter house is basic.  The person pays rent for a safe, structured place to live with other recovering people. The concept being a person can engage in life responsibilities such as work or school and return to a supportive setting until such time the person can live independently.

However, for some, the concept of the halfway and three-quarter house has morphed into the so-called “sober home” where clients are more or less forced to participate in a “less intense” treatment program in exchange for free room and board.  While in theory this sounds like a very reasonable proposition, the reality is we have vulnerable people being “brokered” into, at best, untenable and ineffective facilities.  Many of these individuals do not need “less intense” treatment, what they need is guidance and direction in developing life skills and purpose, which is often a part of more intensive treatment

Families are also enticed by these facilities with the promise of not needing to pay rent for their loved one to live in such a “sober home.”  The catch is their son or daughter will have to participate in a highly ineffective “less intense treatment program” which is usually compromised of other patients who have no desire to recover or are simply just trying to get by; to survive playing what now amounts to a very deadly game of so-called “recovery.” Life for some of these individuals has become not trying to recover as much as trying to negotiate a better “treatment” deal. They bounce from one treatment program to another, from one “sober home” to another, with no real direction of getting back on track with their life.

Legitimate treatment centers often encounter prospective patients and families negotiating treatment terms because they have been offered free plane fairs, waived co-payments and deductibles, free room and board post treatment, and other enticements by these questionable treatment facilities.  Somewhere along the line, treatment for a deadly disease has become more like purchasing a car.  People, unfortunately, have been seduced into looking for the better deal rather than effective treatment that is going to save a life.

The Politics of Addiction

How is it that the treatment industry for substance use disorders has become increasingly more suspect of unethical practices over the years? The answer is a very simple one, neglect. Neglect at all levels of our society except one and that is the criminal element.

Regardless of how much research that has been conducted over the years, and there has been a plethora of research in better understanding addiction, it seems to be still falling on deaf ears. People continue to turn a blind eye to the fact that substance use disorders and addiction is one of leading health hazards and causes of death in our country.

Despite the fact that it has long been recognized as a medical condition requiring medical and professional interventions, there continues to be the stigma of the ‘addicted’ person suffering from a lack of will power, fortitude, and discipline. Research has clearly demonstrated that this is not the case.  There are neurobiological and behavioral underpinnings to this disease that have impacted key areas of the brain including a person’s genetic make-up.  What is even more important regarding this research, which has been around for decades, is that there are effective interventions and treatment approaches that can be utilized.  The old adage of relapse being a part of recovery is simply not true anymore.  Unfortunately, this research seems to be slow in reaching our treatment industry forcing many people suffering from addiction to be treated with antiquated and ineffective approaches.

What compounds this malaise even further is the fact that the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry seem to have little incentive for change making it difficult for legitimate treatment facilities to do their job effectively.  These facilities are often limited in the amount of treatment they can provide and are often in a battle with the insurance companies to prove medical necessity for further treatment.  Even when medical necessity is proven, insurance companies are reluctant to authorize further treatment, in part because of the abuses that tend to occur across the board in our healthcare-insurance paradigm, but also because they are tired of paying for treatments that are seemingly ineffective.

Insurance companies are fighting back.  Why should they pay for another intensive treatment when that person has been through a similar “treatment” four or five times previously? As a result, the insurance industry has relied on the premise that treatment needs to be provided on a shorter-term basis and in a less restrictive setting.  As a result, there has been a proliferation of these less intensive programs that have focused on relapse containment, which is not necessarily a negative goal, but they are extremely limited when it comes to addressing the coping and life skills necessary to live a more productive and meaningful life.

The insurance industry has also relied on the pharmaceutical industry’s propensity to develop better maintenance medications.  These medications, creating a multi-billion dollar windfall of their own, are geared more toward reducing symptoms and maintaining the person so they do not decompensate any further, not necessarily getting the person back on track with their life.  The goal of stabilization and maintenance is not enough.  People with addiction issues need a treatment program that will address the neurobiological, psychological, and behavioral aspects of this illness.

All of this creates a vacuum of need for the person suffering from an addictive disorder.  As such, they are left vulnerable with little or no options to choose.  They are preyed upon by the opportunists whose only intent is financial gain subjugating these individuals to less than supportive living conditions and participation in ineffective programs that will only lead to relapse, hospitalization, or worse, death.

The Reality

Yes, the reality is there does need to be a crackdown on these unethical and fraudulent “sober homes” and ineffective “treatment” facilities. However, what is going to happen after that? Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The problem is not with the fact that there are unscrupulous people out there ready to take advantage of a faulty system. This happens in any organization or industry where there is a faulty system in place. The real problem is that there is not enough attention being paid to the real issue, the disease of addiction and the need for more effective treatment.

The problem of addiction needs to be the focus of our attention.  Last year alone there were over 52,000 deadly opiate overdoses in the United States outnumbering that of car fatalities.  Add in another 88,000 alcohol related deaths and the number of deaths from addictive substances becomes staggering.  This is close to the equivalent of a passenger 747 jumbo jet airliner crashing every day for a year.  This does not even include the deaths of other addictive legal and illegal substances.  It is estimated that the use of addictive substances costs our nation $740 billion dollars annually. Let us not lose focus on the true issue.

Let’s also not lose sight of the fact that there are a number of well-established and effective treatment centers and “sober homes” throughout the country that have been in operation for years.  These are facilities that are committed to working with a population that have long been neglected and now preyed upon. These are the facilities that need to be recognized and supported.

Established treatment programs will be staffed with credentialed licensed professionals.  The facility is also usually certified or is in the process of getting certified by an external credentialing organization such as the Joint Commission or the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).  The facilities will have established levels of care with clear clinical guidelines as to treatment philosophy and outcome.  Involvement with the person’s family and support system will also be an integral part of the program.  Transparency and openness for others to see the work they are doing is tantamount to their efficacy and success.

The credible sober home will also have the same transparency and openness.  The facility will usually have structured ground rules and 24-hour supervision. The main goal being a time limited supportive living environment geared toward assisting the recovering person getting back into the mainstream of life and personal direction.  Most important, it will not have any affiliations with insurance or with a treatment facility.  A credible sober home may be endorsed by a number of treatment facilities but they will operate independently and separately of those treatment facilities.

The bottom line is that there is effective and meaningful treatment out there.  It is just a matter of finding those places. It is going to take a concerted effort of accountability at multiple levels to address all the problems at hand with addiction.  There is no one entity to blame.  Lawmakers, healthcare professionals, treatment programs, the insurance industry, and families are all going to need to take a closer look at what they can do to address the problem of addiction.

– Thomas G. Beley, PhD, LCSW

Executive Director

Palm Healthcare Company

If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help. You are not alone.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help: From Janice Hemmer and Palm Healthcare

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help: From Janice Hemmer and Palm Healthcare

Every member of the Palm Healthcare Family, from the administrators behind the scenes to those on the front lines along with a dedicated clinical team, are committed to helping support and educate anyone looking for help when struggling with a substance use disorder. Given the recent issues facing the nation, including the addiction crisis and the concern for ensuring safe and effective treatment, our clinical staff has chosen to speak to everyone out there looking for answers in their own words, hoping to shine new light on some difficult conversations.

To learn more about how to handle the difficult emotions and situations parents and family members face with an addicted loved one, download our FREE e-book

“What is the Difference Between Helping and Hurting”

DOWNLOAD FREE E-BOOK

Here we have some crucial information from Janice Hemmer, Tischler LCSW, ACSW, CAC who is the Senior Program Director of Palm Healthcare, with 21 years experience in the field of addiction.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

    Nearly every day, you can find an article in the media or online that discusses the addiction epidemic facing the United States and the state of drug and alcohol treatment today. Stories of patients being taken advantage of by unseemly “Sober Homes” and news reports of overdoses are rampant. To some degree, it is a good thing that the media is shining a light on this insidious problem. After all, people who only want to make a quick buck by manipulating those in dire need of help are out there in force. We do need to make sure that the issue is addressed and we should never stop trying to force these criminals out of the system. However, are media outlets and sensationalism scaring people away from the professional and reputable treatment programs that produce real long lasting results?

It is vital to remember that addiction is a neuro-biological disease. Addicts need professional medical intervention and psychotherapy to address the true causes of their addiction. It is incumbent upon the professionals in the treatment community, and the media, to educate and inform people about how to properly vet a treatment facility or program. To that end, the remainder of this article will focus on what patients and their families need to know to get their addicted loved one into an effective treatment program.

Here are some important questions you should ask about any treatment program, along with the answers you should be looking for.

Level of Credibility

  1. What credentials does the program have?

Your state requires that addiction treatment programs be licensed, it is important to check with the state about the current validation of any license. Additionally, organizations such as “The Joint Commission” and “Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities” or CARF ongoingly audit treatment programs to ensure that they are meeting the highest possible standards. 

  1. Content of programming: What theoretical models of treatment do they follow?

There are a variety of treatment modalities available to behavioral health professionals. These can include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Trauma Therapy, Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders, Life Skills and many others. A reputable program will design a treatment regimen that is suited to your specific issues.

Level of Transparency

  1. Pre-Screening

Does the intake coordinator inform you of any tests or procedures that you must submit to before or during the admission process (Blood tests, urinalysis etc.)? Do they ask questions about your medical history? Do they discuss all possible costs that you may incur while in the program and how that will be handled?

  1. Family Involvement

Does the facility offer a family program that encourages family members to become involved with your treatment and invested in a positive outcome? Do they educate the family about the goals of treatment and involve them in the discharge planning procedures? Good programs know that the cooperation of family members is a big factor in sustaining recovery. Oftentimes, families need to understand the clients level of functioning and how to avoid behaviors that might inadvertently interfere with the recovery process.

  1. Does the program allow you to tour the facility?

You should be able to see the environment that your loved one will be living in during treatment. Do they discuss their rules and day to day expectations?

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. While it is important to be vigilant in your search for a reputable program and to educate yourself as much as possible about addictive behaviors, don’t let the stories about scammers scare you or your loved one away from treatment. There will always be those who try to take advantage of people. Just remember that a big part of treatment is learning how to identify and avoid people who exhibit those behaviors. Due diligence goes a long way towards securing treatment for yourself or for those you love. It is well worth the effort.

Janice Hemmer- Tischler LCSW, ACSW, CAC

For more information on how to find a safe, ethical and effective addiction treatment program make sure to explore more of our Palm Healthcare Company website. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

The Difference Between Addiction Treatment and a Sober Home

The Difference Between Addiction Treatment and a Sober Home

When it comes to addiction treatment, there’s much that is misunderstood.  South Florida is receiving more negative press than ever before in regards to the drug addiction industry

In case you missed it, journalist Megyn Kelly covered issues plaguing the South Florida recovery community in an NBC News Investigation piece. While the piece did an excellent job exposing the bad apples of the addiction industry, it left out important pieces of the puzzle.

To begin, addiction treatment and sober homes are not the same.  The piece mentions sober homes and recovery centers interchangeably. This can lead to some confusion as there are differences between the two.

Toward the beginning of the piece, Kelly describes Palm Beach County as the “recovery capital of America” and notes that “some 400 addiction treatment centers are luring thousands of young people.” Soon after, the piece cuts to an overdose occurring in a sober home. This insinuates that sober homes and residential treatment are the same, or connected to one another. In this article, we will specify some of the differences between a sober home and addiction treatment.

What is Addiction Treatment?

There are many well-regarded addiction treatment facilities that have operated for decades in South Florida.  When a client first comes to Florida for treatment, typically they go to residential treatment.

Addiction treatment facilities are more regulated than sober homes. Addiction treatment facilities provide around the clock treatment for clients seeking help. Detox is the first level of care for a drug or alcohol treatment program. In this stage, the client is monitored and guided through a safe medical detox.Once medically detoxed, the client enters the residential treatment program. During this stage, the client receives a custom treatment program which includes a combination of therapy, group classes and more.

In addiction treatment, there are licensed mental health professionals and physicians involved in helping clients get sober. There are different levels of care at treatment centers, including detox, residential, day/night treatment (sometimes referred to as partial hospitalization), intensive outpatient, and outpatient treatment.

Residential addiction treatment can last anywhere from 30 to 90 days and in rarer cases longer. Outpatient programs are different from sober homes in that they provide the varying levels of therapeutic care, but the client does not stay overnight.

What are sober homes?

On the other hand, sober homes are essentially homes where groups of people in recovery live together. Sober living units are privately owned and are free of a lot of the regulations needed to open a residential treatment facility.

Fewer restrictions mean people with bad intentions can open a sober home to cash in on the opioid epidemic occurring throughout the nation. Almost anyone can open a sober home, although regulations are being implemented to change this.

While some sober homes are stricter and have tough guidelines such as regular drug screenings, and mandatory meetings, others are not. Some sober homes are simply that: sober homes. These houses are bought and marketed for those who leave addiction treatment and they are not always created by people with the best intentions.

So why do people go to sober homes?

Instead of returning home, many clients will go to sober homes for guidance in maintaining their sobriety. Sober homes give clients a taste of what it will be like to maintain their sobriety on their own. They typically are not the first stop on the road to recovery. Sober homes provide a smoother transition into the real world.

While some sober homes are operated by the same people who run treatment centers, others are not. A sober home typically has a house manager who helps oversee all residents. Living in the sober home helps a person in recovery take charge of their life by learning to pay rent, buy their food, and abide by rules sober. Due to a variety of factors, more people are not going to addiction treatment as their first stop. Some are going to detox and then immediately to a sober home. This creates challenges as sober homes lack the structure and guidelines of an addiction treatment center.

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

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Truth about Sober Homes vs. Addiction Treatment

South Florida offers vast amounts of recovery options, and with that comes those who take advantage of a booming industry.

Unethical practices happen in illegitimate sober homes and corrupt treatment centers.  However, legitimate and accredited treatment centers are out there that do support recovery. Not all addiction facilities in South Florida participate in these illegal practices.   Furthermore, the media suggests that Florida has the worse overdose rates of anywhere else, and this is not correct. Areas like Ohio, West Virginia, and others are much higher.

It is important to understand the difference between a sober home and residential treatment. A person in a sober home is living more independently than someone in treatment. The original purpose of a sober home is to be a smoother transition in the recovery process.

Overall, addiction treatment is the first step in treating addiction, not sober homes. There is a difference between the two and it is important that people know the difference. Please make informed decisions when choosing a treatment center for you or a loved one. We can help you in this process. Do not wait. Call now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Dear Media, Thank You for Bad Press: Love, South Florida

Dear Media, Thank You for Bad Press: Love, South Florida

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 Gratitude

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!

With Humility

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

DOWNLOAD FREE E-BOOK

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:

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With Hope

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 treatmentTHAT 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.

With Compassion

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.

For more information on how to find a safe, ethical and effective addiction treatment program make sure to explore more of our Palm Healthcare Company website. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

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