By Amy Julia Harris and Shoshana Walter
For more than three years, we have been investigating drug and alcohol rehab programs that offer a tantalizing promise: freedom from addiction for free.
But we found that some of these programs are little more than work camps. There, participants are required to work for rehab-run or outside businesses and turn over their paychecks to the rehab center. We explore the history and scope of these practices in American Rehab, our first serialized podcast.
Now we need your help to keep the investigation going.
At each rehab we dug into, we found unique problems: Former chicken executives who created a rehab to provide chicken processing plants with labor. A judge who had participants do his yardwork. Fortune 500 companies and powerful politicians reaping the benefits of the cheap labor. Participants put to work as caregivers at an assisted living facility, dispensing the very drugs that landed them in rehab.
We have identified at least 300 drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities in 44 states that required participants to work long hours without pay, in likely violation of labor law. We’ve also collected a large repository of tips about other rehabs. These resources, as well as a reporting guide with pointers on how to investigate, are available to all journalists who sign up for Reveal’s Reporting Networks.
Do you have experience with a work-based rehab? Share your story.
- The Charlotte Post: Charlotte rehabilitation center flouts labor law in name of ‘therapy’
- Seattle Weekly: The Seedy Side of Seadrunar
- The Frontier: Working for sobriety: Recovery program took some clients’ disability pay
- StateImpact Oklahoma Report: Work-based recovery program took some clients’ disability pay
- KOSU 91.7: Oklahoma City Says It Will Take Action If Federal Investigation Finds Recovery Program Broke Laws
- WFAE 90.7: At These Rehabs, Patients Work To Pay For Care
- WFAE 90.7: Complaints About Long Work Days And Confrontational Therapy Plague Rehab Facility