South Florida, known for the palm trees, sunshine, beaches and crazy parties! Also known to be one of the United States' drug capital. For decades Miami and surrounding area have been known to be one of the biggest cocaine and marijuana port of arrival into the country, many flooded the area to get a fix of some south American goodies, making it a big problem for law enforcement and drug enforcement agencies. In the early 1990s and through the 2000s, this problem took a shift, legal, prescription drugs were beginning to become the drug of choice for many. Prescription opioids were being heavily introduced into patient population and the general public quickly heard the news.
In the early 1990s a rise in the number of prescription opioid overdose deaths took national recognition. Pain management clinics were in abundance, they were popping up everywhere like corner stores. Ambulance chasers physicians and lawyers, were recruiting patients, causing many new patients to become addicted and dependent on these pain killers and prescription opioids.
In the mid 2000s we started to learn of intensive crackdown of the DEA and local law enforcement agencies on the "pill mills" all over town. I remember as a teenager hearing about it on a daily basis, "pain clinic shutdown by DEA."
With the crackdown, public awareness was rising, over-prescription of opioid pain killers and other narcotics were now a topic of national debate. That's when I entered the healthcare world, and I witnessed some healthcare professionals I worked with also get 'busted'. Patients came back frequently seeking pain medications, some with legit pain, others "faking" it, because now it was tougher to find a fix for their pain or their addiction outside a hospital.
All of a sudden, another shift was seen around south Florida, and around the country; more and more commercials on TV and billboards were seen for drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs and facilities. Money was made getting everyone high and addicted, now it was time to make money detoxing the same patients.
Drug rehabs and halfway houses are now the next big thing. There are now over 14,000 drug rehabilitation and halfway houses around the nation, and Florida is the leader in numbers of rehab facilities, hundreds south Florida alone.
Rehabilitation centers and halfway houses, a transitional group living facility for individuals working their way back into society after incarceration or drug and alcohol dependence recovery, are businesses operated differently than other healthcare facilities, and most are for-profit entities.
Drug rehabilitation centers costs ranges from $6,000 to over $20,000 for 30-day inpatient treatments, for those that may require extended treatment, 60-90 days, costs can creep up over to $60,000, depending on the location. And, when money is good, we as human beings get greedy fast! There is an abundance of patients to fill up drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers and halfway houses, and many of these places have lost their interest, if there ever was any, on the patient's wellbeing and they are not entirely focused on the patient's sobriety or recovery.
Many patients in rehab centers or halfway houses have traveled quite some distance to be here, with hopes of improvement, only to end up relapsing and continue using due to lack of supervision or support. Most of the patients I have cared for in hospitals post drug overdosing inside a rehab center or halfway house, are from out of the state of Florida. These facilities advertise across state lines to recruit patients as a way to make money, and once they are kicked out of the program for continued use of drugs, these patients are left out in the streets with no family or friends around, and no way of returning home.
It also takes another vicious turn when the medications used to help with opioid and other narcotic addiction is now the medicine being abused and having some individuals hooked. Drugs rehabilitation has become a money making market and a revolving door for addicted individuals.
As a nurse and a decent human being, I hope for the wellbeing of my patients and hope for the positive outcome in their search for sobriety, it is a sad situation to see those in need and vulnerable to lack support, or have their trust abused. Please research the facilities thoroughly and speak with someone that may be familiar with them before allowing your loved one to be admitted, Make sure that facility has the best intentions for yourself or loved ones that may need help kicking addiction.
The Dude Nurse
Klaus Campos, BSN-RN