About the Addiction Treatment Industry

News Coverage of the Addiction Treatment Industry

“The truth is, there can be more money in a patient relapsing than in them recovering. So at it’s worse, this system encourages a cycle of admission, recovery, relapse, readmission, and relapse again.”

— John Oliver, Last Week Tonight

Often those looking for care are in a state of crisis and want to make quick decisions about treatment to get immediate help. However, it’s important to have a realistic picture of the industry to make informed decisions.

Recently, many of the unethical practices of the addiction treatment industry have been receiving mainstream news coverage, including scams, corruption, and ineffective care. It’s encouraging that these practices are finally coming to light and hopefully this exposure will push the industry toward a major shift.

The following is a compilation of media coverage that exposes some of the unscrupulous practices of the addiction treatment industry. We hope this list is helpful to get a better understanding of the world of addiction recovery and can help people find help that is ethical, evidence-based, and can provide lasting results.

If you’re looking for treatment for yourself or a loved one, here are some good starting resources:

In the News

“Does Forced Rehab Work?”

Rachel Poser | Mother Jones | July/August 2018

Desperate families are locking up their opioid-addicted relatives for treatment. But the lifeline can be a nightmare.

“Rehab Racket? ‘Patient Brokers’ Cashing in On Addicts, Officials Say”

Lolita Lopez & Josh Underwood-Davis | NBC4 LA | May 29, 2018

Something strange started happening. She was thrown out of a sober house. Within hours she was in a new sober house. And then she was out of that one and then into another one

“Predatory Behavior Runs Rampant In Facebook’s Addiction Support Groups

Cat Ferguson | The Verge | May 21, 2018

Huge groups of vulnerable people looking for help are a rehab marketer’s dream

Reply All #121 “Pain Funnel”

Sruthi Pinnameneni | Gimlet Media | May 17, 2018

An ambitious plan to help people goes off the rails, and a man from Florida tries to fix things the only way he knows how: with prank phone calls.


Last Week Tonight with John Oliver | May 20, 2018

The addiction treatment industry is dangerously unregulated. John Oliver explains why many rehab programs should incorporate more evidence-based care and carefully reconsider their doctor-to-horse ratio.

“The Giant, Under Attack”

Michael Corkery, Jessica Silver-Greenberg | New York Times | February 15, 2018

One of America’s biggest rehab companies built an empire. But after a patient named Gary Benefield died, its enemies — investors and business rivals alike — struck hard.

“In Pursuit of Liquid Gold”

David Segal | New York Times | February 15, 2018

There is big money in drug testing. That means urine, and bills that can top a quarter-million dollars for a few months of tests for a single patient.

“City of Addict Entrepreneurs”

David Segal | New York Times | February 15, 2018

The drug crisis has turned countless recovered addicts into businesspeople: They get clean, open their own clinics, and sometimes take over the neighborhood.

“Profiting from Addiction”

Michael Barbaro | The Daily | January 18, 2018

America’s addiction crisis has become a lucrative business, and fortunes are being made in the growing rehab industry. But the death of a patient in California has raised big questions about how to treat people who want to get clean — and about what it means to profit from the health crisis.

“Is the $35 Billion Rehab Industry Ready for a Disruption?”

Mandy Stadtmiller | The Daily Beast | November 19, 2017

In today’s recovery industry, what many people think of as ‘rehab’ is about as far from the prestigious environment of the Betty Ford Center as you can get.

“Review Sites Have Deep Ties To The Rehabs They Promote”

Cat Ferguson | The Verge | November 3, 2017

“Popular publications covering addiction double as marketing operations for treatment centers”

“Searching For Help”

Cat Ferguson | The Verge | September 7, 2017

“She turned to Google for help getting sober. Then she had to escape a nightmare.”

From the Blog

“Dark Practices in the Addiction Treatment Industry”

Stefanie Ritoper | Evo Health and Wellness | June 14, 2018

An addiction treatment placement specialist discusses unscrupulous practices in the industry.

“Sources for John Oliver’s Takedown of Rehab Industry”

Koorosh Rassekh | Evo Health and Wellness | May 21, 2018

John Oliver offered a scathing takedown of the rehab industry on HBO’s Last Week Tonight. Here are his sources.

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