John Oliver wants finding quality rehab to be the easy part of the addiction solution, explains why it isn't
"Rehab is a place where people can address an addiction to drugs or alcohol, something that until relatively recently was seen as a moral failing that could be overcome with sheer willpower," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight, using Belinda Carlisle and "an amazing PSA from the '80s" as a cautionary tale. "Thankfully there is now a broader understanding that addiction is complex and that nothing about getting off alcohol or drugs is easy." Experts commonly view it as a medical problem, and for many addicts, the solution is sought in America's $35 billion rehab industry. Oliver's big message: Buyers beware.
Insurance is increasingly covering rehab, thanks to a law signed by George W. Bush and expanded under Barack Obama, Oliver said, but not all rehab is equal — there are no federal standards for what rehab or addiction counseling should entail, and the vast majority of people don't get evidence-based care. "So tonight let's look at what rehab is and why the industry's so troubled," he said.
Oliver pointed to Florida as "a window into how the flood of insurance money into treatment centers has caused massive problems," running through some of the ways "rehab" centers game the system, like excessive testing. "Urine is so valuable that in the recovery industry it is known as liquid gold," he said. "The final big problem" is that "everything about this industry is incredibly difficult to navigate, which is dangerous," literally a matter of life or death, Oliver said. The best starting place right now is probably trying to get advice from a doctor who is board-certified in addiction medicine, he said, but it shouldn't be this difficult. "So much about battling addiction is really hard. Getting clean is hard. Staying clean is hard. But getting good, evidence-based, trustworthy help should be the f---ing easy part." (There is NSFW language throughout.) Watch below. Peter Weber