The recovery industry has taken Florida by storm due to its tropical weather and relaxed vibes. Who wouldn’t want to get better in “paradise”? If someone is struggling with housing it also makes it a lot more comfortable to be in warm weather for the majority of the year versus facing the elements. The recovery industry has leaned heavily on Florida’s image of being comfortable, peaceful, and relaxing. Treatment centers often advertise to be more like a vacation than a health facility. They have created a narrative of taking struggling addicts out of their current conflict and into the safe warm hands of South Florida where one can recover next to palm trees and the beaches.

People who are struggling with addiction or who have friends or family with a drug or alcohol problem are often in a very vulnerable and desperate position. Unfortunately, though, that makes them the perfect target. One of the easiest and quickest scams by treatment centers is abusing urinary analysis testing. This is an important tool for those in treatment and recovery, but it is one of the most exploited. A test costs about $30 off the shelf and treatment centers are charging insurance companies anywhere from $1,000-$2,000 per test. If a treatment centers performs a urinalysis test on each patients five times a week that comes out to millions of dollars in up-charing and profit. Unfortunately, it only gets darker from here.

“Body Hunters” or “human hunters” find addicts that are struggling and pay them to use so that they can qualify to come to their treatment center. They are intentionally praying on those in treatment and manipulating them to relapse which would then cause them to get kicked out of their current treatment center subsequently getting them to go to the “body hunters” treatment center. “Body hunters” are directly putting addicts and alcoholics in harm’s way and treating those struggling like disposable objects rather than humans. South Florida is currently experiencing a huge rise in fentanyl-related deaths and there is never a guarantee that the next time an addict uses he or she will even survive. There has been a 63% increase in fentanyl-related deaths from 2020 to 2021 with Florida being the leader in reported deaths. South Florida has always been a hot spot for overdoses and in the wake of “body hunters” and flop houses they are directly contributing to the increase.

Often the locations that the “body hunters” take addicts to are not treatment centers at all but what is called a flop house. A flop house works under the guise of being a treatment center and milks the insurance of its residents to its fullest without actually providing any treatment or help. On the contrary, they often allow addicts to continue to use, again putting their health and safety and risk. What is even worse is that due to financial instability and the already lack of resources it can be very hard to get out of a flop house once you’re in it. It can be hard for anyone to believe that facilities like this even exist. Therefore it makes it that much harder for loved ones to believe if someone finds themselves in this station making it impossible to get outside help to get out of the situation. This creates the perfect storm of being stuck in a terrible station and in the cycle of addiction.

 It can be hard to tell what facilities are reputable and which are a flop house. Often marketing can cover all these issues and if there is poor communication between family members it can make safety even harder. When you are in the thick of active addiction and navigating recovery alone it can be even harder to take the time to research facilities and make an informed decision. Although addiction can be a crisis situation that requires immediate intervention, research will be your best friend when looking for reputable treatment centers in Florida. Calling your insurance plan directly can also be a great help. A free plane trip to Florida does not always equal paradise and recovery. Sometimes if it seems too good to be true, it is.