"People wouldn’t think twice about spending $50,000 on rehab and $8,000 on an intervention, like, “sure, we’ll take on a second mortgage, no problem.”
A rehab industry insider who worked at rehabs, in consulting for families who were sending their loved ones to drug programs, and at halfway houses for nearly two decades dishes on the for-profit, multi-billion dollar business.
[This interview has been edited and condensed]
Like a lot of folks who wind up working in treatment, I struggled with drugs first. I wound up in Hazelden in 2003. When I was a young adult, alcohol and drugs always felt like a warm hug. It felt like I didn’t have to see the seams of the world. I was using a significant amount of cocaine and was drinking a ton, and taking Xanax or Oxy to come down. It was a nightmare cycle that went on for maybe six months. I feel pretty grateful that my parents stepped in, and they did what they knew how to do—my aunt was sober at that point for three years and told them to send me to Minnesota to Hazelden.
I didn’t have a bad time there. It was my first time hearing the 12 Step program, and even though at that point I had a pretty adversarial relationship with God, I got really into it. It was the first time I had been clear headed in years. I woke up one Thanksgiving morning and realized maybe things would be okay.
As far as treatment goes, I had a good experience. And then I went to their halfway house, and worked at a coffee shop, and lived in sober living, and built some kind of a community for myself, which I think was the most important part.
Eventually I started managing some of the houses and doing admissions and then after that I got a job doing interventions. It was a super busy practice, we were doing 50 to 70 interventions a month around the country. This was the heyday of intervention and rehab. People wouldn’t think twice about spending $50,000 on rehab and $8,000 on an intervention like, “sure, we’ll take on a second mortgage no problem.”