Earlier this summer, CNN broke startling news as the result of months of investigative reporting: private addiction treatment centres in California, U.S. are fabricating patients, or in some cases the addictions of patients, in order to collect more money from the government.
The article opens with the story of Victoria Byers, a 22-year-old woman who, despite having no history of alcohol or drug abuse, was sent to an addiction rehab clinic along with the other members of her group home. The home, who sent all their members to the clinic regardless of addiction problems or not, said that they didn’t have the staff to stay with those who didn’t need to attend an addiction treatment centre.
Along with an independent U.S. nonprofit the Center for Investigative Reporting, CNN found that in addition to misdiagnosing patients in order to up the number of patients in their facilities, some private addiction treatment centres were fabricating patients altogether –people who were in prison or dead were listed as having attended recovery sessions.
CNN reports that addiction rehab clinics “round up mentally ill residents from board-and-care homes to sit in therapy sessions they can’t follow. They lure patients in from the street by handing out cash, cigarettes and snacks. They have patients sign in for days they aren’t there.” All of these practices are costing taxpayers, and sapping money from real, suffering addicts who need the care.
Fraud in any form is despicable. But when it exploits a population of people who depend on the care of others, like counsellors and administrators at addiction treatment centres, it is even viler.
Funding is a constant blockade to effective and comprehensive addiction treatment. The case in California is an instance of taking care away from addicts who really need it, and exploiting a serious disease in the process.