December 22, 2014

Florida Rehab Centers

Florida's Ritzy Rehab Centers

Florida -- Palm Beach County in particular -- is home to a thriving recovery industry that increasingly caters to wealthy substance abusers.

Marilyn Adams | 8/30/2011
SeaSide
SeaSide [Photo: Behavioral Health of Palm Beaches]

In the world of addiction treatment in Florida, there are hundreds of places like the House of Hope in Fort Lauderdale, a 93-bed facility where patients with drug or alcohol addictions pay, on a sliding scale, up to $3,000 a month for a rehab stint. Patients at the non-profit get counseling, doctor visits, meals and a bedroom shared by four.

Then there's SeaSide. Run by for-profit Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches, the 18-bed center on swanky Singer Island features designer-appointed condominiums, ocean views, massage therapists, a personal trainer, a fleet of cream-colored SUVs and even "equine therapy" — caring for horses. Recovering in that style costs $49,500 a month for a shared condominium — up to double that if you want a private stay.

Ron Dash
"It was not an inexpensive proposition," says retired business owner Ron Dash of his stay at Hanley Center in West Palm Beach. "For me, it was worth every penny." [Photo: Scott Wiseman]
Florida's recovery industry is still dominated by House of Hope-type operations, but most of the growth is on the for-profit side. While two-thirds of the state's 1,360 addiction treatment centers are non-profits, the number of for-profit treatment centers seeking state licenses jumped 22% from 678 to 830 in the 2009-10 fiscal year, according to the state Department of Children and Families, which licenses treatment facilities. Meanwhile, another trend: Both for-profits and non-profits alike are opening upscale centers like SeaSide to serve wealthy clients.

Nowhere are the trends more evident than in Palm Beach County, which is home to the biggest concentration of high-end addiction treatment centers in the eastern United States and now rivals even Malibu, Calif., as a rehab center for the affluent. All but 11 of the 93 rehab centers in the county are run by for-profit companies. The operators include national chains targeting clients from across the U.S. and the world whose financial means are as significant as their substance abuse problems.

Ron Dash, a New Yorker who owned a successful button business in Manhattan, is a typical customer. For Dash, a husband and a father, one drink was never enough. He lived for cocktails at lunch, cocktails after work and a bottle or two of wine with dinner. He began to take pain pills for his hangovers, tranquilizers for the jitters, sleeping pills for insomnia.

Alcohol Still No. 1
Rehab center directors say that alcohol is still the No. 1 drug abused by their patients. Prescription pain medication is the top addicting substance. At some centers, half of all patients are hooked on painkillers, anxiety drugs or other prescriptions. "We have an epidemic," says Mark Fontaine, executive director of the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association, which represents rehab centers.

Success Rate
Is a $50,000-a-month treatment center better at keeping its clients drug- and alcohol-free than a cheaper facility? Addiction professionals say all addicts are likely to relapse, regardless of how much they've paid for rehab. Success rates are less a function of cost and more a function of length of treatment and how well a program fits an addict's particular needs. What the growth in upscale treatment centers and specialized programs reflects, they say, is patients' desire to rehab among people they view as more like themselves.

Tags: Healthcare

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