Often times, we talk about scientific breakthroughs happening in the world of recovery. And while they are certainly exciting to hear about, they should NEVER be released to the public without proper testing and regulatory approvals. Sadly many fraudulent sobriety clinics prey upon that hope, offering fake “miracle cures” that lack proper vetting and could be entirely made up. Over in our nearby region of Orange County, scams like that were apparently afoot; leading to a task force crackdown by local police.
Multiple recovery operators were charged with felony counts for taking money from patients in exchange for an “opioid-blocking surgery.” In some cases it was just a set of false promises, but in others (shockingly) real operations were performed.
Most of these followed an M.O. that our readers are familiar with. Recovery “body brokers” were sent out, targeting real users in need. They would ask for several thousand dollars in exchange for surgical implants. Questionable doctors would then allegedly perform these operations, which would insert a so-called opioid blocker named Naltrexone into the patients’ bodies.
The county’s top prosecutors clearly stated that this surgery is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Regardless, the crooked doctors would wind up billing insurance companies as much as $40,000 for each operation. Many victims in these cases underwent procedures which did nothing to improve their addictions and actually put their health in jeopardy.
“This is entirely experimental,” Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told NBC Los Angeles. “There’s no study as to the efficacy of this procedure. And worst of all, some of the patients developed serious side effects following their surgeries.”
NBC went on to report that Orange County has now become a “Rehab Riviera” and a prime hunting ground for body brokers. Several of the region’s sober living homes now recruit most of their patients from out of state and they often refuse to follow city regulations.
According to the latest reports, four acting OC physicians have been charged with fraud, as well as four local body brokers. An administrator of the noted treatment center SoberLife USA was also charged, with felonies ranging from medical insurance fraud to unauthorized practice of medicine.
We, for one, are happy these illegitimate practices are getting shut down. Performing experimental and unethical surgeries is definitely one of the lowest points we’ve seen when it comes to recovery scams. As we’ve said many times before, PLEASE always do thorough research before choosing a treatment for you or a loved one.