Drug and alcohol treatment and rehab transforms lives for people around the world. Most treatment centers are well-managed and staffed with conscientious, highly trained professionals who strive to provide the best treatment possible.
However, there is a growing number of treatment providers and intermediaries that place high priority on profit margin while quality care and client welfare takes a back seat. Unfortunately, this is bad news for unsuspecting clients seeking help for addiction.
For example, some treatment providers engage in a nefarious practice known as patient brokering, in which bonuses and kickbacks are offered for referrals. In some cases, a referral agent can net as much as 40% of the total treatment cost! This is bad enough when the referring party is a professional placement service; but it becomes very disturbing when commissions are paid to therapists, psychiatrist, GPs and other healthcare providers who are ethically and legally obliged to advise their patients of the best possible treatment option for them rather than the one that pays the highest kickbacks. The practice has developed to a point where some rehabs proactively offer to buy clients via hefty commissions, which are often a significant percentage of the treatment cost.
Marketing firms consisting of sophisticated call centers or referral agencies are often located via online searches. This is a serious problem in the U.K., where the practice is unregulated. The agencies have tremendous control over the Internet market while many treatment providers find the funnel has dried up and direct client contact has become very difficult.
Some treatment providers may also offer cash bonuses or enticements such as gym memberships, smart phones or gift cards in exchange for client acquisitions to their own sales staff.
Sober living homes in the U.S., also known as halfway houses, are often of tremendous benefit for people in recovery. However, sober living homes are unregulated, making it difficult for federal investigators to catch on to client brokering and other illegal practices. Dishonest owners and managers reap massive benefits.