Ethics in Addiction Treatment

Written by Robert Castan

Editor: Editorial Team

Medically Reviewer: Editorial Team

Last updated: March 18, 2022

Ethics in Addiction Treatment are More Important Than Ever

Every year, more than 44,000 people die due to drug overdoses across the United States. In light of the ongoing–and worsening–opioid crisis, the need for effective addiction treatment has never been more urgent. While changes in healthcare laws appear to have made access to treatment easier, the resulting explosion in growth in the number of treatment facilities has actually made it more difficult than ever to find reliable, ethical treatment.



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Patient Brokering

Kenneth Chatman, a sober living home operator in South Florida, was recently sentenced to 27 years in prison after being convicted of a variety of charges, including human trafficking, healthcare fraud and money laundering. Chatman epitomizes the problem that is gripping the rehab industry: Operators that are in it strictly for the money and that even willingly exploit people in recovery to turn bigger profits.

There have been other cases of brokering with more than 200 such facilities being shut down as a result of recent investigations. Some sober living facilities quickly figured out how to exploit the healthcare system by allowing people to keep living in their houses while actively abusing drugs; as long as they were able to keep billing their insurance, they condoned it.

Largely thanks to these scandals, sweeping new laws were passed that impose stricter and tighter regulations and penalties on sober living homes.

Increased Healthcare Coverage to Assist In Ethical Treatment

The passage of the Affordable Care Act promised big changes in the addiction treatment industry. The new legislation made significantly more insurance money available for addiction treatment. Many healthcare plans now include coverage for addiction treatment, which is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.

Around the same time, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that increased coverage for addiction treatment under Medicaid and expanded the use of medications like methadone in addiction treatment.

Unethical Treatment Centers

For people who are seeking addiction treatment and their families, news of corruption and illegal activities within the rehab industry is frightening and disheartening. It is important to note that the vast majority of addiction treatment facilities have patients’ best interests at heart. However, due to the ongoing limited oversight of the industry in most states, enough bad actors are able to set up shop that the entire industry has been marred. The most concerning thing is that people who desperately need treatment may not seek it because they’re afraid of being taken advantage of.

A few of the ways in which unethical treatment centers break the rules include:

Illegal marketing practices

Google recently cracked down on addiction treatment centers’ ability to advertise on its platform. It was revealed that such ads were being used to funnel patients to the highest bidder rather than to treatment facilities that would most capably address their needs. This is the most famous example of the underhanded marketing techniques that are used to prey on desperate people.

Patient brokering

It has been shown that many addiction treatment centers pay referral fees–which are more rightfully called kickbacks–to entities that drive “business” their way. This phenomenon reduces people who are seeking addiction treatment to little more than pawns that are manipulated to generate as much profit for sketchy, unethical treatment centers as possible. Unsuspecting people who sincerely need treatment don’t usually realize what is happening, and they often end up slipping through the cracks.

Insurance fraud

Some sober living facilities and treatment centers have found it incredibly easy to bill insurance plans for their services. At first glance, this may seem like a good thing. However, it also makes it far too easy for a facility to bill for services that it isn’t providing with any real sincerity. These facilities are able to bill patients’ insurance plans even while they actively abused drugs in his sober living homes.


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Finding an Ethical Treatment Center

If you are seeking addiction treatment, the above news is sure to be cause for concern. In today’s evolving regulatory landscape, how can you reliably find a facility that puts ethics in addiction treatment first? First and foremost, stick with facilities that have accreditation from reputable organizations. Look for an accreditation from The Joint Commission or CARF, The Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, to ensure that you are dealing with an above-board, ethical facility.

To learn more about our ethical addiction treatment programs and accreditation standards, call us today.


Author: Robert Castan
July 19, 2018

Robert Castan is a member of the Executive Leadership Team at SpringBoard Recovery. Robert started his professional career as a house manager and has become an industry leader and trusted voice in the treatment world. He brings extensive knowledge of organizational growth, industry-leading outcomes, and comprehensive marketing to SpringBoard Recovery. Robert has been walking his own path of recovery for over 10 years. This path has truly driven his ambition to help make treatment available to others who are struggling with addiction. Robert finds great joy in traveling and keeping physically active, with an emphasis on biking. Robert resides in Arizona with his husband and two four-legged children.   The U.S. Alcohol Crisis, Still Deadlier Than the Opioid Epidemic   Zombies and Other Future Threats to the Health of American Youth Dire Mental Health: A Catalyst for Post-Pandemic Drug Addiction The Benefits of Rehab Center Staff Working Their Own Recovery Opinion: The Opioid Crisis + COVID-19 = The Perfect Storm Robert Castan on Successful Addiction Treatment and Entrepreneurship Castan: The road less traveled of addiction & recovery in Scottsdale Opioids & COVID Driving Phoenix’s Rising Fatal Drug Overdoses Opinion: The Opioid Crisis + COVID-19 = The Perfect Storm Successful Addiction Treatment Programs & Entrepreneurship

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