Dr. Cali Estes - The Addiction Coach ®

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5 Dirty Secrets of the Addiction Industry and how a “Professional” can ruin their reputation and discredit themselves, but get rich doing it.

5 Dirty Secrets of the Addiction Industry and how a “Professional” can ruin their reputation and discredit themselves, but get rich doing it.

I specialize in the addiction field and have a long running 20 year history in it. I have seen so much unethical and illegal nonsense in the past 5 years it amazes me that the ‘professionals’ sometimes are allowed to operate. I have met more liars, thieves and con artists in the addiction field alone, and have determined that some of the professionals are sicker than the clients. From gossip, to posts on Facebook, overbilling of urines, paying for client ‘leads’, kickbacks, bribes to outright smear campaigns of competitors. It is very sad that these so-called “professionals” are allowed to see clients, teach others and interact with society with no boundaries, no ethics and very little regard for others. But, in this industry so many of them are ‘in recovery’ as they say, but they are not ‘working a program’, they are merely sober. Many have lengthy criminal records and revoked licenses, (which is common in the industry as there has been damage from our addictions), BUT when they start posting others past history as a way to discredit them, it is alarming. It means they have forgotten where they came from and how far they needed to go to help others. It means they are still sick and in need of help themselves and should not be in the industry, until they come to grips with their own demons. Here are the Top 5 ways you can instantly discredit yourself as a professional, in any industry. The Dirty Truth behind Getting Sober.

1. Posting negative information about a colleague on social media, forums or chat groups. First this is a major ethical violation on your part and if you have a license or certification, you can lose it in your state. While you are entitled to your opinion, it is not proper to post it in social media chat rooms. This does not only cause problems for your colleague, it also discredits you as a professional. If your clients see you attacking another professional, why would they want to hire you? They wouldn’t. They are looking for a problem solver, a helper, a fixer, not a drama queen. Keep your personal opinion off social media about your colleagues. It has no place there. Sure, making your competitors look bad might line your pockets a little more, but it does not make you look good. It is jealousy and ego. Two things you cannot have when helping clients and running a successful business.

2. Taking a bribe, kickback or referral fee for a client. Again this is against your board’s code of ethics, but also illegal. You should not be receiving a fee for any client referral, as it is patient brokering. You can lose your license and possibly go to jail. Keep your nose clean. Remember why you got into this industry, to help people. The new trend is the ‘marketing contract’, where a treatment center pays a marketer a flat fee for a certain amount of client leads per month. Going rate is $5000 per rehab and the marketer usually hits up 4 places. So an easy $20,000 a month income to scout out clients. It is away around the Stark Law at the moment, but it is still paying for leads.

3. Bribing a client to come to you, your facility or place of business. Offering gift cards at AA meetings, Tshirts, even drugs so that a client will come into your facility so you can bill their insurance. Using your van to pick off clients from a nearby IOP, rehab or counseling center. Offering drugs to a client so they can use, go back into detox and go through treatment again so their insurance can be billed. In South Florida alone, this is RAMPANT.

4. Sending a colleague texts, emails or private messages on Facebook or chat rooms that are in poor taste, unwelcome and unethical. Everything from sexual innuendos to full on harassment, stalking, threats, or harassing phone calls and letters. Sure they are your completion, learn how to out market them or team up with them to assist more clients. Trying to strong arm them and cause mental anguish so that you can flourish is not healthy for either of you and certainly less than professional. But, we have established that a lot of ‘professionals’ are doing a lot of unprofessional things. Recently I was cyber bullied by a TV ‘personality’ with no education in the addiction industry and lots of threats and gossip. Sure, it makes him feel better, and maybe even made his little group think he was a good leader, but sending someone nasty texts makes you a Keyboard Commando, not a professional. In fact, it discredits everything you set out to do. So why do it? Because it makes them feel better.

5. Overbilling a urine test. Over testing, double billing and charging $100 a panel per test on a 12 panel test. That is a $1200 urine test you paid $25 for. This is a get rich quick concept and a lot of treatment centers have been jumping on board to make quick cash. IOP and halfway (sober living) facilities have been trading clients for years and now found an easy way to utilize the high paying insurance agency monies to line their pockets.

So what can you do? As a client, you can BUYER Beware. If you’re a professional, act like one. Be ethical, responsible and when you see shady business dealings, run far away. If a professional is talking about another professional, rest assured, they are also talking about you as well. If your boss asks you to do something illegal or unethical refuse and start looking for a new job.

Most of all, remember you got into this to save lives.

Cali Estes, CEO

The Addictions Coach






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