Addiction Treatment

Don’t Get Scammed: Red Flags of a Disreputable Rehab

April 24th, 2018
Many rehab centers try to exploit people who need treatment.

As the opioid epidemic continues to spread, the number of addiction treatment centers and sober living homes opening across the country has skyrocketed. Unfortunately, so has the number of horror stories from individuals and their families who have been scammed by facilities that do not offer quality treatment and are instead designed to take advantage of those struggling with addiction. While getting help sooner rather than later is crucial, taking the time to find the right treatment center can make all the difference. When looking for help, do your research and watch out for these red flags to ensure that you receive the quality of care you deserve.

They Work with Brokers

Brokers receive kickbacks any time they send someone to specific treatment centers. Their main concern is making money, not matching you with a qualified treatment center that meets your needs. Recognizing brokers isn’t always easy, but if you call an 800 number that is not directly connected to the treatment facility, you are probably dealing with a broker. Vague online ads and generic websites are also signs that you are dealing with a third party that is selling your information as a lead to a treatment center.

They Pay Directories for Leads

Rehab directories can be helpful tools during your initial research, but you should always be wary when using them. While many are legitimate, others work with brokers and treatment centers to poach potential clients from one treatment center to another. Good rehab directories will list each treatment center’s phone number and website, allowing you to contact them directly. If a directory doesn’t provide that contact information but rather uses a single 800 number, you might be dealing with a scammer. To ensure you receive the correct information, it is best to contact the treatment center you are interested in directly. Rather than calling the general number listed in the directory, do a quick google search for the treatment center’s name. This should provide you the correct contact information, ensuring that you will speak with the right people. 

They Offer to Pay for Your Travel

Be on the lookout for any rehab facility that offers to pay for your travel, particularly cross-country flights. These rehab scams typically offer to fly clients out to their facilities for treatment, claiming that costs will be covered either by the treatment center or insurance. Know that insurances do not cover travel costs and that rehabs offering free travel are typically brokers or marketers who receive kickbacks for every admission they receive. While avoiding travel costs can be tempting, making treatment decisions based on the promise of free travel or luxuries can be extremely dangerous and very costly in the long-run. 

They Are Not Accredited

Being accredited is not a requirement for addiction treatment centers, which enables many to offer subpar treatment, and in some cases, no treatment at all. When calling treatment centers, ask what their accreditations are and make sure that they have an accreditation seal prominently displayed on their website. Reputable treatment centers will be accredited by The Joint Commission or the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. Having these accreditations means that they must adhere to much higher standards than other facilities.

They Offer Vague Information

Picking a treatment center or sober house should be an informed decision. Organizations that only offer vague information about their offerings, location, and staff are most likely trying to hide the fact that they are unqualified to treat you. Don’t fall for the promises of recovery; instead, focus on the facts. Ask what their treatment really entails – what evidence-based therapies do they offer? Do they offer psychiatric services? Do they offer medication-assisted treatment? Do they have a doctor on site? Do they have wellness therapies? Asking specific questions will help you differentiate between legitimate treatment centers and scammers.

They Guarantee You Will be Cured

Not even the best treatment centers can guarantee that you will be sober in 30 days. Addiction is a lifelong journey that is largely shaped by you and your commitment to sobriety. Any rehab or sober living house that promises to be the cure to your addiction is exploiting your desire to get better. While sobriety is the goal, no reputable facility will claim a 100% success rate. Instead, look for facilities that offer a strong program, are transparent about their offerings, have a team of licensed and accredited medical and addiction treatment professionals, and offer services and support, even after you have completed treatment.


If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, we are here to help. Learn more about treatment at Mountainside by calling 888 833 4676.