Drug Abuse Crisis Fueled by Unregulated Sober Homes

Unfortunately there are plenty of scam, abusive and useless drug rehab centers. And the ongoing heroin crisis is fueling the growth of these ineffective and harmful drug rehab centers.

The Heroin Crisis in Trump’s Backyard

Palm Beach County is dubbed “the recovery capital of America” because it’s home to so many drug treatment centers, and has been for at least three decades. But in recent years its reputation as a balmy locale to get well has been particularly hard hit because of the proliferation of corrupt “sober homes,” communal houses for addicts who arrive from around the country, lured by offers of free rent, airplane tickets and even gym memberships.

Unregulated, the operators, many of whom lack any professional training, either ignore the rampant drug use at their facilities or even supply their clients with heroin so they can funnel them to outpatient drug treatment centers in exchange for bribes, an illegal practice known as “body brokering.” The owners keep them for as long as their insurance lasts and then they kick them out, broke and still addicted. Local residents have taken to calling them “walkers,” a reference to the stumbling zombies in the TV show “The Walking Dead”: forlorn-looking kids wandering around in a daze, dragging suitcases or toting plastic bags, who often end up sleeping in the park.

One notorious sober home owner, Kenneth Chatman, who was sentenced last month to 27 years, ran a facility where investigators found bloody carpets and clients shooting up in their rooms.

Fraud is so endemic in Palm Beach County’s billion-dollar-a-year drug treatment industry that in 2015 health insurance provider Cigna pulled out of the Obamacare marketplace in Florida, citing overbilling for urine tests by drug treatment centers as the reason. Cigna is suing Sky Technology, a Texas-based firm that runs a string of drug-testing labs in South Florida to try and claw back some of the sky-high fees that the company has reimbursed.

Sadly our failure to regulate properly creates disastrous results and fuels fraud. We need to expose and close fraudulent facilities abusing people and robbing our healthcare dollars without treating addicted people using practices that can work.

Even when there is an honest effort to treat those addicted to drugs the success rates are far from good. Still we need to work on continuing to improve and adapt treatment practices. We can’t afford to have criminals bleed the health care treatment dollars.

Related: Drug Treatment Funding Can More Than Pay For Itself With Reduced Crime CostsA Small Town Struggles With A Boom In Sober Living HomesImproving Addiction Treatment with The University of Wisconsin – MadisonThe Causes of Drug Addiction are Complex