The Sobering Reality About Substance Abuse Rehab Centers

Prescription drug companies and alcoholic beverage companies spend millions of dollars annually on researching, testing, and marketing their products. Typically, illegal drug dealers don’t spend millions (if any) money on research, testing, and marketing of their drugs. Regardless of the difference in the amounts of money spent by companies and dealers to attract consumers to purchase the products that they sell — these companies generate significant revenue and profits year after year. Despite many warnings, consumers of these products often become addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States. Drug use is on the rise in this country and more than 23.5 million Americans are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. But only 11 percent of those with an addiction receive treatment. This relatively low percentage has not stopped substance abuse rehab centers from becoming big business in the United States. In fact, Florida is one of the most popular destination choices in the country for seeking substance abuse rehab treatment. Thousands of people flock to Florida for treatment, which is ironic given South Florida’s reputation for being a nightlife capital of the world making access to alcohol and drugs very easy to obtain.

Savvy entrepreneurs realize that millions of Americans are seeking treatment but desire exclusivity, privacy, and in many cases luxury. Rehab center owners market their rehab centers and tout their luxury accommodations and private shuttle services to name a few of the amenities. Visitors seeking treatment for substance abuse pay for their treatment: (1) out-of-pocket; (2) through private insurance companies; or (3) federal program payors, such as Medicare. The cost for treatment varies greatly. There are luxury rehab centers but on the other end of the spectrum there are no-frills treatment centers without all of the extras. Opting for inpatient treatment will cost significantly more than outpatient treatment. Additionally, your length of stay will determine the final cost of treatment. Facility fees for inpatient treatment range from $500 per week to $75,000 and up per stay, which can last weeks or months. A recent study found that 10 week intensive outpatient treatment programs average around $7,000. Then there’s medical detox which averages around $1,500 per day. Some addicts may elect to undergo medical detox prior to undergoing weeks of inpatient or outpatient treatment.

If you multiply these fees by the number of people seeking treatment you quickly realize how profitable drug and alcohol treatment can be. However, entrepreneurs looking to break into the big business of substance abuse rehab centers shouldn’t be blinded by the potential pot of gold waiting for them because fines and penalties for improper operation of the facility may put your company out of business.

Owners and operators of these rehab centers must ensure that they are complying with applicable Florida laws or they will face penalties and fines. If you operate any of the following facilities within Florida there are specific criteria that must be met in order to obtain a license: addictions receiving facilities, detoxification, intensive inpatient treatment, residential treatment, day or night treatment with host homes, day or night treatment with community housing, day or night treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, continuing care, intervention, prevention, and medication-assisted treatment for opiate addiction.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Program Office (“SAMH”) is responsible for oversight of the licensure and regulation of all substance abuse providers in the state. Florida Statutes govern the provision of substance abuse services, including, but, not limited to, residential and community-based services for treatment and prevention. The Florida Administrative Code and Florida Statutes address licensure requirements.

Florida Statute Chapter 397, is commonly referred to as the “Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act” or more simply the “Marchman Act”. This Act addresses clients’ rights, voluntary and involuntary admissions procedures, and service providers requirements. The Marchman Act is divided into ten lengthy parts, which details various regulatory and licensing requirements.

Individuals and entities are prohibited from acting as a substance abuse service provider unless properly licensed to do so under the Marchman Act. If a provider operates without a valid license she may be charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree. If you desire to operate a substance abuse rehab center you must take the following steps:

  • Determine the Licensure Requirements
  • Fill out an application, renewal (non-accredited or accredited), or acquisition form with the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health
  • Complete the HIV/AIDS Education Confirmation Form and Treatment Resource Affidavit
  • Pay the Appropriate Licensure Fees
  • Obtain Accreditation from an agency such as JCAHO

This checklist is a guide and is not a complete list of steps that one should take in order to operate a substance abuse rehab center. Rehab centers are highly regulated and it is strongly recommended that you consult with a licensed attorney to ensure that your company is taking the appropriate steps to obtain licensure and does not violate any other section of the Marchman Act or regulatory authority.