The Ugly Truth Of Rehab: Client Brokering


The quiet demon that has spread like wild fire, causing one of the biggest epidemics that our country has ever seen, touching nearly all of us in some way.  

A demon that no one likes to talk about because it has the potential to destroy reputation. 

Addiction, alcoholism, substance abuse... Nearly everyone knows someone or has been personally affected by the unexplainable pain of being, loving or knowing someone who has an addiction. 

Yet, there is still so much fear, shame and stigma connected to being or having someone that you care deeply about labeled an "addict." 

Being a therapist who specializes in working with addiction, it both pains and angers me that there is so little being done to address what is actually happening in our country. When I say there is an epidemic... I mean that there are more people dying every minute from overdoses then you can even begin imagine.

Young, smart, educated, kind and gifted people. 

Being at the front lines of this work, I have realized that what we as a culture have "defined" as an addict is so distorted, because we don't want to admit how personal and "close to home" this epidemic actually is.

It's not only the homeless man on skid row or the veteran with PTSD from Vietnam. It's not just the sad angry middle aged woman who sits at the bar every day and drinks away her sorrows... It's the captain of the football team, the bishops daughter who went to private school, it's the stay at home mom who lives in the biggest house on the block,  it's the elementary school teacher or the family dentist.

Addiction does not discriminated. 

For some reason, we lack empathy for people that are in the depths of hell, who wake up every single morning in the most unimaginable emotional and physical pain, because our culture has labeled addition as something that someone has "choosen" to do to themselves. 

Let me say this once and say it loud and clear:


It is a life that is plagued with a darkness that many of us can not even begin to imagine. 

I am writing this post because I am passionate about working addicts, de-stigmatizing addiction and facing the reality of how serious this epidemic actually is.

ENOUGH swiping it under the rug. Clearly the DARE program failed us and the perfect "American dream or family" is a facade of a broken system that teaches us to hide and minimize the truth. 

There are millions of people out there right now who are fighting a battle against this demon,  trying to find a sense of peace, meaning and hope in their recovery. Pretending to the outside world that everything is ok because it's "not acceptable" to admit that they or their loved one is fighting a internal battle with a demon that has plagued everyone and everything in it's path.

Though I am not an addict myself, I have connected with working with this population and I truly believe it is my souls purpose.

Unfortunately, being that this is the work that I am drawn to- I have had to learn a few hard lessons along the way. 

I have had to learn that no matter how good a person is, that when an addict wants to get high- they will do anything, even to the people that they love the most. Because addiction is a demon who makes you loose sight of who and what matters. 

I have had to learn that sometimes you can not help everyone and you need to know when to protect yourself and set boundaries. Because addiction is a demon that does not care.

I have had to learn that at the root of every addiction is usually layers and layers of childhood trauma such as, sexual and physical abuse, messy divorces, abandonment and loss. Because addiction is a demon that feeds on pain.

I have had to learn that people that are supposed to be helping others often try to profit from the depths of others pain or a family desperation for support and help. Because addiction is a demon that costs a fuck ton of money to battle. 

I am writing this post because this last lesson has recently lead to a death of a former client, all because someone wanted to make money off of another persons pain. A client who was someone's daughter, sister, friend but to a broken industry- just another insurance plan which one can profit from. 

As someone who finds meaning, purpose and truly cares about this work, doing the right thing and helping others- I can not even begin to understand how someone can take advantage of people in such immense pain....just to make money. 

 It is pathological. Yet it happens ALL the time and I am sick of it.

Because it is SICK. 

If you work in the field of recovery, you have probably heard the term "client brokering." If you don't work in the field....I highly advise that you take the time to do some research and dig a little deeper into what I am about to tell you.

The horrible truth of what is actually going on behind the scenes of some of these treatment programs is sickening. Taking advantage of families who are in pain, desperate and afraid with the false claim that claim that they are there to help when someone is at their lowest of lows and has run out of options. 

The definition of "brokering" is: making a profit off of something/someone. In the treatment industry client brokering happens ALL the time. 

This means that some facilities are PAYING clients to relapse so that they can take advantage of their insurance benefits. Paying client's to get hotels, drugs, alcohol and recruit other addicts so that they can "pop" as positive in their urine samples and the facility can admit them into the program for a profit of up to $3,000+ per day. 

It happens ALL the time and most of the time it ends with death.

 The families of client's trust that they are sending their loved ones to get help- what they don't realize that the very industry that is supposed to help them is also taking advantage and they may be buying a one way ticket.

In the mist of addiction no one thinks clearly and an addict will do ANYTHING to get high, but the facilities behind client brokering... I don't understand. How can you take advantage of people in this way just to make an extra buck?

I'm glad, I work full-time at a treatment center that does not allow this to happen. Unfortunately, we are one of the outliers who actually does the right thing and view the client's as human beings not just insurance policies. 

 The majority of facilities these days view client's as a potential for profit and not as people with meaningful lives and relationships,  there are countless treatment programs in Los Angeles alone that engage in client brokering.

The worst part? They recruit client's from the places that are actually trying to do the right thing and be ethical. 

I wrote this post because I am sad, afraid and frustrated that people are taking advantage of others in this way.

This industry is supposed to be about helping each other, connecting and community- no amount of money or profit is worth someone potentially loosing their life. 

I want to end this post with a reminder that not all of the treatment centers are unethical0 I want to stress how important it is that you do research before choosing a program. 

 I have a podcast episode that goes over how to choose a good program, what to look for and waht questions to ask:  What To Look For And How To Choose a Treatment Program For Substance Abuse.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

Please share it, knowledge is power and it is the pre-cursor to change- and it's time we hold these programs accountable for their actions.