They call them “junkie hunters” or “body brokers.”
Many, who are recovering addicts themselves, prey on vulnerable, frightened and desperate people in the grip of addiction — and their distraught family members — with promises of posh treatment, free housing, money, and other comforts if they go to a specific treatment or sober living facility that is out-of-state.
They have deals with unregulated facilities — reportedly many are in Florida — and they get a kick-back for referring the addict.
Some cost as much as $100,000 for long-term treatment and few insurance companies come anywhere close to covering that kind of cost.
Some who don’t have counseling or any other addiction treatment credentials also charge the families themselves for the initial “intervention” and treatment help.
A few have even opened their own facilities down South to cash in on the recovery craze.
I have another name for them: “Addiction vultures.”
They swoop in on unsuspecting addicts seeking help, and their families, to make big bucks.
Well, the good news is that governor’s office has launched a campaign to raise awareness and exposed these greedy creeps.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a public campaign to crack down on “patient brokering” and warned New Yorkers about the fraudulent practice, urging folks to report them.
“Vulnerable New Yorkers struggling with addiction are being targeted and falsely promised life-saving treatment services and then are given inadequate and ineffective treatment at outrageous costs,” Cuomo said.
The aim is to protect people from being sent out-of-state for overpriced, unregulated treatment.
“With this campaign, we make it clear that this reprehensible practice will not be tolerated in New York and will help ensure that people receive the appropriate assistance they need to reclaim their lives,” Cuomo said.
The campaign is a collaboration between the New York state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and the New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers.
The warning posters are being sent to treatment providers across New York. They are also available for download.
“Making the decision to seek treatment is a critical first step for many people with substance use disorders and their families. Their bravery needs to be rewarded with the services that can best help them get on the road to recovery,” said OASAS Commissioner Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez.
“OASAS closely oversees treatment providers in New York State, however, not all states have the same type of regulations. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, we have passed new laws and instituted new regulations to ensure that New Yorkers seeking treatment are protected, and receive the best possible care,” an OASAS spokesman said.
You can report suspicious activity by calling 1-800-553-5790 or contact StopTreatmentFraud@oasas.ny.gov.
MORE GOOD NEWS
Referral and access to treatment in New York doesn’t have to cost a cent.
You can be referred to a facility by a friend, a counselor, or even the courts. And that referral is free.
The treatment, depending on the facility and your insurance coverage, generally is not. But it’s no where need what they’re charging for some of these poorly run, out-of-state facilities.
And there’s also a very large, and growing, recovering community made up of members of 12-step programs who are eager to help without expecting anything in return.
Need to talk to someone who’s winning their battle with addiction?
Need a ride to detox?
Show up at a Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous meeting (there are dozens across the borough every week at all times of the day), raise your hand and just ask.
You’ll get it.
And it won’t cost a penny.