A new report says that South Florida has become a hub of fake drug treatment centers that seek out young addicts who are on their parents' insurance policies.
The Christian Science Monitor noted that these crooked treatment centers allow addicts to keep taking drugs while the treatment centers overcharge for unnecessary drug tests and other bogus services, which are then billed to the insurance policies.
These treatment centers use patients as recruiters and nationwide advertising to reel in addicts from around the country.
Jennifer Flory's 23-year-old daughter Alison was reportedly lured nine times to different drug treatment centers by young men, who were paid to trick her with offers of free rent and possible romance over 15 months between 2015 and 2016.
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The scam works like this: patients agree to go to through a drug treatment program and live in a sober home that is financially linked to the treatment program. The scam sober homes are often nothing more than suburban homes turned into co-ed flop houses. Some for-profit drug treatment centers actually offer patients free flights to Florida as part of their marketing campaigns.
Because Obamacare allows children to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26, Jennifer's insurance got billed a staggering $750,000 for Alison's treatments.
Alison went through numerous relapses while in treatment. She died after smoking crack cocaine laced with the synthetic opiate carfentanil in a sober home owned by the Reflections Treatment Center in Margate, Florida, on Oct. 14, 2016.
Reflections was put out of business by the FBI.
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Jennifer said that she wasn't aware of how loose the regulations were for drug treatment centers in the Sunshine State:
I think people need to know, there are scam artists out there. Don’t just send your kid to Florida and expect a miracle.
I didn’t know the industry wasn’t [closely] regulated. I didn’t know that addiction treatment wasn’t under the supervision of a doctor at all times. I was picturing white lab coats and stuff like that. I didn’t know. I didn’t know any of it.
Brittany Ringersen of Opportunities Halfway House in Delray Beach, Florida, told the Addiction Blog in 2014 some of the warning signs of poorly run sober homes:
The number one sign of a poorly managed halfway house is one where residents are allowed to use drugs and alcohol while living there. You would think that this is a rare occurrence, but it happens much more often than you would think.
Another big warning sign is if the house is co-ed, with men and women living under the same roof. It can be very uncomfortable for a newly sober woman to have a male roommate, especially if she has a history of sexual or physical abuse, which many women in recovery do.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to spot a poorly managed halfway house at face value, which is why organizations such as SCRRA (South County Recovery Residence Association) and FARR (Florida Association of Recovery Residences) are so wonderful.
These are organizations that inspect and certify halfway houses to ensure the quality and integrity of the programs. Members are required to uphold certain standards of living and care for their clients, as well as abide by a code of ethics in their practices. You should do research to see which state regulatory associations are in your area.
The Christian Science Monitor also suggests avoiding drug treatment centers that pay referral fees to sober homes, as such payments could be a kickback scheme.
Maureen Kielian, the Florida director of the anti-drug group Steered Straight and a member of the Sober Homes Task Force, also offered advice:
If [patients] are being offered anything free, they are being brokered. The way to think about it is if my son had leukemia, would this be happening? Would they be flying you in for treatment? Would they be offering you free anything? No.