Richard Hession, CEO of New Jersey-based BlueCrest Recovery Center, joins Stas Botsaris and Mark Bonanni, Co-Directors of Business Development at BlueCrest, for a candid, far-ranging discussion about ethical best practices in the addiction treatment industry. Each in active recovery themselves, Richard, Stas, and Mark explore the most exemplary and most cringeworthy behavior they have seen in the industry, as well as the ways that BlueCrest prioritizes responsible, client-centered relationships. Join us for a no-holds-barred conversation about professional ethics in an industry that sets out to change peoples’ lives for the better.
Hello. Welcome to the podcast. Ethics in the treatment industry is going to be our topic for today. My name is Richard Hession. I’m the CEO of BlueCrest Recovery Center. With me, I have the co-directors of business development at BlueCrest. Did I say the title the right way?
Yeah. You did.
I’ve got Stas Botsaris. Anastasio, technically, is your name, right?
Technically. No one ever calls me that, though.
You’re an Irish kid.
The cops call you that.
Yes, exactly. The judge.
It’s been a while.
And then I’ve got with me Mark Bonanni. Welcome fellas.
And thanks for doing this with me.
Thanks for having us.
We’ve got, right now, about 6200 people signed in, so welcome to everybody. 7000 people now. Constant. It’s just insane what’s been going on. So, basically we’ve done these. We’ve done a bunch of them. We did one practice one last time, just to get anybody who is watching, catch up if you haven’t signed on before. And so, people had said “You should really do a live one.” So we did a practice live one last time. And now, this is our first official, full-blown, balls to the wall, live podcast.
And I see May is the first person to make any kind of a comment. And she said, “Hahahaha,” so she likes what we’re saying already. Hi May.
Allright. Ethics in this treatment industry. There’s so much different stuff we can talk about, and things to cover. Last time we did this as a practice. It was very stream of consciousness, because we we’re just kind of practicing the live stuff. Really not practicing talking, but we were practicing the audio, the video and …
Good thing we practiced because we had technical difficulties.
Yes, it was technical difficulties up the jank.
Took about 20 minutes to get up.
I know, right? But now it’s working and we’re signed on. It’s pretty cool. It’s pretty cool.
So there’s a lot of different topics and we’re going to jump from thing to thing. We’re going to try to keep it ordered and measured. Ethics in the treatment industry is a huge topic right now. It’s a huge topic just in general. And one of the things that I always like to remind people is that, you’re in a service industry, right? But we’re not a taxi service. We don’t run a massage parlor and we don’t run a casino and we don’t manufacture tires. You’re talking about, we’re dealing with peoples lives. And ethics is important in all business.
When I was on wall street, and this is a great way to start it off, when I was on wall street we had a lot of ethics trainings. They took that stuff very seriously, as they should. And one of the best things that they always said to me, and I literally use this every day in all the decisions we make, running a rehab. All the decisions we make, everything I do, I say to myself, “If this showed up on the front page of The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, would I be okay with it?” If you can say you’d be comfortable with whatever action you’re taking, if it showed up on the front page of one of those major newspapers. And you say, “I can live with that,” then what you’re doing is probably the right thing. And that’s a great guiding principle.
Unfortunately, some of our, I don’t like to call them colleagues because people who engage in that kind of heavy duty stuff are not colleagues of mine. But there are some people in the field that are in it for the wrong reasons, doing the wrong things, and they end up on the front page of a lot of these periodicals. One of which will, not that I wanted to start with them particularly, but there was a place down in Pennsylvania, what was it called? I don’t mind using their name because they’re shut down now anyway.
Liberation Way. That was a place that, I mean, typically when you do these you try not to name people specifically, but that’s already out. It’s in the news.
They’re going to prison, if I’m not mistaken.
They’re all going to jail. It’s interesting because, who was the first person that I put on our banned list when we first opened? Was Liberation Way. I wouldn’t deal with them. At all. I would not have any interactions with them. I wouldn’t have any dealing with them. Because I knew. We met them and I talked to them and I knew and I was not comfortable with them. And we put them on our banned list of people that we wouldn’t refer to and that we wouldn’t do any business with.
Good call. You know what I mean? That one wasn’t a hard one because it was very obvious and brutal what was going on. The question I always ask myself is this. So these guys get in a lot of trouble. The FBI, Justice Department, whoever it was that went and raided their offices and did what they did. Shut them down. The question I always ask myself, what they did wrong is very specific right? They see and if you go and you look it up online you can read all the charges and everything else. The thing is this, what stuff didn’t show up on there? I always wonder how many people died as a result of some of the them. Because that’s really, at the end of the day, if you really played the tape through and some of the stuff is not direct, but it’s out there.
But it’s hidden in the mix, because we don’t know, right?
It absolutely is.
Who might have got clean and sober for real, had they been …
Had they been given an opportunity at a real place that …
Reputable. Right. And a place that kind of, from what I read, it looked like, in the charges, almost encouraged a relapse to reset insurance benefits.
They used terms like, revolving doors, set up for failure.
A ‘get high-house’, or something?
Yeah. Something along those lines.
It was like a relapse house.
It was something along those lines and unfortunately, and you see it in the industry. We just had an ethics training, not particularly pertaining to marketing, but just in our industry in general. And, a lot of people that come into our industry come in it for, you know. Obviously they assume they’re going to get some sort of wealth out of it, right? They’re going to make tons of money. And it’s a money driven market, so they’ll do anything to be compensated or get paid. And what they realized, when you said, if this shows up on The Wall Street Journal is that, are you okay with it? If your mom and dad read this about you, are you gonna be comfortable with this? Or even more so, your kids. Can your kids go to school now?
Or even people in recovery. How about people in your home group.
People in your home group heard that you did this, how is that going to [crosstalk 00:06:26]>
And the funny thing about it, when we talk about our industry, we actually do have a product, and it’s life. It needs to be protected by any means necessary. I mean, we see it all the time here. Where a client is not appropriate for us. They need a specific modality and they might have insurance that qualifies them to get here. That’s not what we’re about.
So, to that end, and it literally just happened, which is interesting …
We were upstairs.
And I wouldn’t bring it up because it’s irrelevant. It’s just it is what it is. But, it is exactly-
We literally just had this conversation.
This literally just happened and it comes up in the courts to this conversation, this bigger conversation. We literally had somebody who requested for me, we try and buy a lot of different literature. There’s a lot of really cool stuff that you can do in rehab that goes well.
We’re a 12-step based facility. That’s just our core, we’re 12-step based. We think 12 steps and 12-step recovery programs and literally living a 12-step lifestyle is the best after care program in the world. It’s not even just what we think, my personal life experience and that is absolutely true.
Think it might be all of our experiences.
Only thing that ever worked.
I’m not saying that there’s not other stuff that can work. I mean, who the hell am I to say that?
For some people somewhere, right?
Yeah, I’m simply saying that this-
I don’t know.
-if you’re open, honest and willing and you do certain things, you can’t not have an experience with this and it can change who you are. It can take you to a place where you never drink and use again, and that’s the ultimate goal, as far as I’m concerned.
But, there are some people, for whatever reason, that cannot or will not or are unable, incapable, for whatever reason, they’re not looking to or they won’t connect to the 12-step lifestyle. And so, we were upstairs and I was ordering a bunch of literature. And some of the clinicians, they have a lot of books they like that go really well with 12-step lifestyle. Like the …
Living Clean book.
What’s it called?
Drop the Rock?
The Toltec Wisdom books. They’ve got The Four Agreements, The Fifth Agreement, Mastery of Love. There’s a lot of cool books that, they really operate well within a- Drop the Rock is one, and that goes good with like six and seven step work. It’s non-fellowship literature or whatever.
But anyway, they were ordering these books and I see one of them is Refuge Recovery. Now Refuge Recovery is probably a great book, it’s not my thing. Refuge Recovery is an alternative to a 12-step lifestyle.
Is it though?
That’s what it says.
Is it? I thought it almost goes along with. In other words …
Which is what you would think.
But what it says, when you read the caption of what it is when you’re ordering it, it says, “This is an alternative to 12-steps.”
Not an addendum.
It’s not, “goes along with it,” it’s ‘instead of’.
We don’t do that.
So when I read that I called the clinician in and I said, “I’m not ordering this book.” “Why not?” “Because we’re a 12-step based facility, I’m not looking at alternatives.”
I’m not saying there aren’t good alternatives. And I’m not saying that alternatives can’t work. And I’m not saying that’s not a great book, it probably is.
Right, it’s probably a good read.
But it’s probably not appropriate for our facility. And then I took it a step further because then he told me, he said, “Well, we weren’t looking to order 30 to have a group about it, we happened to have one of the clinicians has a specific client that’s not really engaging in 12-step recovery and I don’t she has any interest and she was looking to get something to do …”
And I said, “Okay look, I’ll order one of them and we’ll give it her. But we’re not just going to give her the book, we have to ask ourselves the question as a company, is this the right place for her to be?” Now, I’m happy to have her come and stay and I want to try and work and help everybody I can, but maybe there’s a place, I don’t know, let’s think something crazy. Maybe there’s a place that does Refuge Recovery?
Where she would actually be able to engage in a way she won’t here. You have to, as a business owner and as a place that does this in this field … You know, if I’m a firestone guy and I own firestone tires, I want every car to have firestone. I don’t care what it is, we’ll make one that will fit your car, because that’s what we do. We’re not selling tires. This is this girl’s life. And if somebody is not able to or willing to engage in a particular thing, isn’t it our responsibility, our ethical responsibility to ask that person, “Would you be better suited, do you think, maybe we can find an alternative.”
Yeah. Or, “Do you think you can have an open mind to what we’re about here?” First.
Of course. But if not, don’t we have a responsibility? An ethical and moral responsibility.
You’re not going to get that exposure here.
We’re not going to refuge.
We’re not going in that direction.
Yeah. Or SMART-recovery.
And so, do you want to try and fit a round peg in a square hole? Whatever. Do we want to even effort that? I don’t think we should, because I don’t think it’s fair to the person. But unfortunately-
Which is another topic for another day, too. But it’s like, why are you so turned off? It just drives me nuts, because you’ve never tried it.
Well, but let’s not go there now.
We can talk 12-step all day long.
I want to though.
So do I. I always do. But, the point is that that’s an ethical consideration. And the point is that all the topics we’re going to talk about. There’s ethics involved in everything that we do. Right? There’s an ethical consideration in everything we do. And if you’re the kind of place, at least for us, that I want to be, that’s the place I want to be. I want to be the place where I don’t care about insurance policies, I don’t care about money. That has to be tertiary and further down the line considerations. And, interestingly enough, when you take that part of it and put it all the way in the back of the line, and you put ethics up front and do the next right thing, strangely enough you succeed.
You do great.
Beyond your wildest dreams. Why is that?
You succeed. You do well with clients. Clients do well with you.
I mean, as co-directors and guys that are out in the field trying to get business and put ourselves out there, I know Stas will agree, that is one of the most frustrating things in the world, to get someone who is interested in recovery and wants to come to group class. And to look at their clinical history and to realize, this person may not even have a problem with alcohol and drugs. This might be a primary mental health thing. We’re a co-occurring facility, but this is not a fit for us and for us to be told no, that person can’t come here, because it’s the right thing to do. And it’s a frustrating thing from our point of view. But it’s, at the end of the day, how many conversations have you had? It’s like, dude, it’s for the greater good. It’s the right thing. It’s not right.
It’s the stubbed toe theory.
There’s a lot of places that are going to take them, and shame on them. But, let them, you know, we’re not going to give them what they need.
When we discuss what actually goes on, as far as clinical and we’re not clinical guys, right? So when we get in denial, it’s the stubbed toe theory. It hurts for a second. But it’s for the greater good. For those five seconds it stings and the whole world is over. It’s painful. And then it’s like, “Oh wait, it is what it is.”
But ask anyone of our partners out there, who is the most … What is our reputation? It’s impeccable.
All right. But again, I don’t want to turn this into a BlueCrest commercial, right?
No, I’m just saying though.
No, no, it’s fair. But again-
What we do for the client.
The point is, we try and always do the next right thing. The client comes first. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Here’s the thing, it’s kind of like when you find money. I find a wallet.
We talked about this.
It’s true! It’s happened to me an inordinate amount of times. I don’t know why. Is God trying to test me? I’ll tell you right now, it’s not a big test for me. Because, I find a wallet, I open it up. I was on an express bus coming home from work when I used to work in the city, and that was the last time that it happened to me. I get up, and I literally look down on the seat and there it is, you could just see the person was sitting there the whole time, got off their stop and there was the wallet sitting on the seat. So I picked up the wallet.
Now, for me, I open it up, there’s, I don’t know how much money was in it, 500 bucks. Reasonable amount of money. And I saw the guys drivers license and I was like, “Okay.” I mean, I’m not going to give it in to a bus driver or anybody cause I don’t know who he is. I know I’m going to give it back to the guy.
So I take the wallet and I go off the thing and I look up the address and I’m like, “Ugh,” I’m going to have to get in my car and drive to this guy’s address. But of course I’m going to. So I go home and I eat dinner and I said, “All right, I got to run up to this guy’s house cause he’s probably flipping out looking for his wallet.” 500 bucks, you know what I mean? I don’t where the guys at in life.
Just the license alone.
The license alone. And the credit cards and …
Forget about it.
So, I jump in the car and I go and I drive and I knock on the door and the wife answers the phone. She’s got a little, maybe three year old, standing next to her, and a baby in her arms.
And I’m like, “Hi,” I said. She’s looking at me like ‘what do you want?’ And I said, “Hi, I think, I guess it’s your husband, I’m not sure.” But, whatever the guys name was, and I said, “He’d left this on the bus.” And the wife looked at me and she was like …
“I can’t believe that you just brought this back to us.” And my answer to her was, “That’s such a shame.”
It’s a shame that you’re shocked that I would bring it back. See, I don’t believe that. I think, most people, more than 50% of people out there, and maybe I just have a naïve worldview, but I don’t think so.
I think you do.
I think more than half the people would just return the wallet. I mean, that’s how I grew up.
I think a lot of people would return it, without the cash.
What a lot of people do is, they take the cash out and drop it in a mailbox. Which, fair enough, at least they get their license back and their credit cards and whatever, and they get the cash. It’s kind of like a trade off, that they tell themselves. But guess what?
It’s a payment.
If you’ve ever done that before, you’re wrong. It’s not ethical and it’s not- maybe half ethical.
But here’s the thing.
And there’s no such thing as half ethical.
I think it’s a good Segway back into what we’re doing here. Because, at 30 days sober, clean and sober, would you have been able to do that? At 30 days clean and sober? And the reason I ask the question is because I remember, when I first was calling around asking people’s opinion of coming in to work in this field, and one of my good friends and someone I trust who’s been in this for a very long time said, “Just remember what you’re getting into. Remember what you’re up against. You’re dealing with a bunch of ex-addicts and alcoholics who may not have a program. May not be of the most ethical way. And so they’ve thought of every angle in every shape and every form.”
And think about, I mean we’ve heard the stories, you got 90 days. And all of a sudden you’re doing what Stas and I do. You’re barely even done with post acute withdrawal, and you’re out there with an opportunity to make a lot of money. And you’re going to take, by nature, I don’t know about you, but I always want to do things the easy way. That’s my nature. Like, that’s part of the alcoholism or addiction for me.
And so …
But that goes back to the people who own these places. We have a two year rule.
Well, you see this kid, but he’s a hustler. We recognize it.
I hear you. But we’re not going to hire anybody who doesn’t have two years of recovery for that very reason.
Right. I know we’re not, but …
And anybody who does, and you’re out at one od these things and you meet somebody. A new marketer at such and such a place and the guy’s like, “Yeah, I’m four months sober.” If you’re in this field, you got to be saying to yourself, “Really? Like four months sober and they’ve got him out? That’s crazy!”
To me, I don’t think that’s appropriate at all.
You’re asking for trouble.
Absolutely. But again, and this does not fall under the guys of ‘who am I to say?’ I think I’m somebody to say! You know what I mean?
I think it’s one of those things where you can say, “Oh, but then again, who are we to say?” I think we can say very clearly it’s a problem.
There should be rules. I mean, at least guidelines.
Look, just to Segway into that, you know, somebody getting into taking money, right? You said taking money, you know, when we have a downer, you want to jump into it right now?
Yeah. Actually, before we go into that I want to close off, because we had brought up the other place that got shut down. And what happens is, so we have all sorts of levels of, people are keeping an eye on the industry. Inevitably, we’re going to talk about Florida.
Because Florida is a disaster. California is the next Florida. That’s coming down the pipe, because what goes on out there is absolute madness. And again, we’re going to tell some stories about that because it’s crazy. But Florida was the worst example. They had the miner, and we’re going to go over … Not that it’s a miner ethical infraction, but there’s a big difference between some of the ethical horror show that I see going on in the field, and then some of the more minute, kind of smaller like, “Yeah that’s probably not the right decision, it’s not ethical but it’s not like … ” You know what I mean?
It’s not outrageous the way some of the other stuff is. But, the point is that, I think and I hope that New Jersey, that the Department of Justice, that the Attorney General in New Jersey, I’m hoping that they all know what we know. Which is that Florida is now packing up their suitcases and they’re coming here. Owners of other places that were less than ethical maybe in Florida, perhaps, and certainly that’s not all of them by the way, and that’s another problem with this.
I know people who ran places in Florida that were fantastic. So, you know what I mean?
Still good, yeah.
And they were horrified by all of this and they were like, “Great! Now-” And they got screwed!
Yeah, they got the black eye of the industry.
Because they’re a great place and they were all the black eye of all these shit banks, bad people. Sorry the language. But they wore the black eye, and it’s unfortunate, but it’s the nature of it.
I don’t want that to happen here in New Jersey. And I’ll tell now that, I’ve spoken with some of the Department of Justice people. I’m open-door policy. I want them to come in, I want them to meet us, talk to us. I pro-actively want them to know who we are and what we’re about. Because if we’re doing anything wrong here I want to know about it. That’s the nature of us.
So, that stuff’s going on now. They’re keeping an eye on it. And I know Nick reminds me of this stuff sometimes, thank you, that we’re supposed to, when we do these podcasts, people jump in, they jump out. Oh, we’re down to 5100 odd people, which is less than what we’ve at the height but whatever.
But people jump in and out so it’s a reminder, I’m Richard Hession of BlueCrest Recovery Center. We’re doing a podcast on the ethics in the treatment industry and I’m here with Mark Bonanni and Stas Botsaris. Your name [crosstalk 00:20:14].
It’s a tongue twister. Greek stuff.
But anyway, as far as that goes, I’m really hoping that they’re keeping an eye on everything. The good news for us is that, they’ve already learned a lot from what happened in Florida. I’m hoping they take that, now they know what to look for, what these people are doing, what’s going on. And, from what’ve been told and from what I see, I think they are. I think they’re taking notes and I hope they are.
Because the thing is, we don’t want Jersey to turn into the next Florida. And the problem is, the good places and some of these places know people are doing the wrong thing, and they just ignore it and they say, “Well, what can you do?” Well, you have a responsibility, don’t you? An ethical responsibility. You can’t let people do stuff like that. Not okay, because look what happens.
Yeah, can’t turn-
They destroy the whole field, they kill how many people on the way? They make a bold loud of dough. They fold up tens and then they go look to open up their …
Well, to my understanding, I think the insurance companies even pushed back on it, too. Which …
That’s what drove the whole thing in the first place.
The insurance companies, the money is what made them pay attention.
They said, “I’m not paying for this anymore.”
Absolutely, nor should they.
And the good places don’t get any, right, they get the same treatment as the bad places.
Unfortunately they got hit with the brush. Payments withheld from places that did good work, and that ended up having to shut down because of that. It’s brutal.
But anyway. I’ll just say that, that stuff’s going on, right? They’re going to be looking into all this stuff and they know, New Jersey knows, I’ve heard that they’ve been dragging their feet on issuing licenses. 45 licenses that are looking to get issued in New Jersey. A lot of them are coming from places like Florida and Cali. It is what it is, because Cali’s coming down the pipe next.
Then, underneath that, interestingly enough, to speak to what I’m talking about, about remaining silent. Because of social media, you’ve got some interesting stuff. And you’ve got that one guy, and I’m going to mention you on our podcast, bro. I don’t know who you are, although I know people who know who you are, but your handle is doctor [Bob Smith 00:22:09] on Facebook. I mean, it’s funny because he wears the scarf and he calls people out by name.
South Florida crusader.
Yeah, he’s like a crusader in South Florida and he’s got people-
Screenshots of texts.
-who know who he is so they text back and forth with marketers that are doing [inaudible 00:22:25], “Bro, I’ll meet you, I’ll give you $5.500” whatever.
Just literally pay to play, brutal, brazen, horrendous stuff. And this guy is calling people out by name. That stuff’s important. It’s important stuff because, you’ve got people that are out there, unfortunately, social media has rhe other way as well. Just because somebody says it on social media doesn’t mean that it’s true. We just had an example the other day, literally two days ago, where somebody went out onto Facebook or whatever, I don’t know what it was.
They went onto Facebook, created some Facebook account, and basically named like 30 people in the field. 40 people in the field or more, and they were like, “These people are no good because they’re making referrals out of state and they’re getting paybacks.”
They’re getting paid. Yeah. Unsubstantiated.
I look at the list, I know for a fact that that’s, I can’t speak for everyone on the list but, bullshit. I know some of those people. They’re definitely not doing that. I can’t speak to all of them. I don’t know. I saw a couple names that maybe were. But the point is, just because someone puts that out, there’s a pro and con, right? You got the guy Doctor Bob down in Florida who’s a crusader. He’s pissed about what’s going on. And he’s trying to do something about it and I can appreciate that. But that’s the problem with social media.
Then you have somebody else who might just be an angry elf.
Right. For whatever reason.
That’s out there screaming for God knows what reason.
Looks like they pulled every name of every person that works at every treatment center and just, arbitrarily.
That’s what it looks like! It looks like they literally just took every marketer. Like, your guy’s names weren’t on there. If it would have, I would have flipped out, right?
Because, I don’t think they decimated, though. I just think your name just happened not to be on whatever list they pulled from, is what I think.
I’m not friends with them or whatever.
Yeah, I saw other names on there that absolutely shouldn’t have been.
And also, that’s what it boils down to.
But, that’s stuff’s going on too. Right now there’s self-policing. That goes on, when you’re on any kind of a field, especially in this one with ethics and stuff like that. So it’s something that we have to be mindful of. And then we go on to, what you were talking about, we go onto the different topics.
One of them was trolling in meetings.
And that was one of the things that we were talking about. Trolling in meetings, if anybody doesn’t know what that is or what that means. Actually, go ahead Stas, why don’t you explain what it means.
So, trolling in meetings is literally when an individual comes, usually from the marketing side of things, and they know that a treatment center is near the meeting or whatnot. And they will literally go and see who is in treatment and, they will listen to the sad story and assume that, “Oh, you’re at this treatment center, it’s an additive network treatment center, it takes this insurance,” and they’ll get approached. Like, “Hey man, you’re unhappy at your recovery house? Why don’t I just ship you over here and we’ll pay you?”
So we recently … Maybe not recently, it was about six or seven months ago we had a client here that discharged and went back to an area where he lived and we referred him to a facility. Sure enough, and I’ve known the family, I’ve known the kid, he’s a good kid. But you said earlier, when you have 30, 60, 90 days, in that ballpark, when you get offered $3500? That’s fix-it money. This is a solution. That’s a lot of money. It’s a lot of money now, it doesn’t make a difference. 3500 bucks is 3500 bucks.
So I remember getting the phone call, and he was like, “Yo, Stas! I was at a meeting and I’m going to Cali!” I said, “Wow! Easy! You just got there like a week ago, what’s the problem. And who do you know in California?” You know what I mean? Even [Willow Grove 00:26:02]. Like, what are you talking about? If you don’t know Willow Groove, it’s in PA and it’s not Cali.
And he’s like, “Yo, this guy came up to me in a meeting, you know, I was up there complaining, you know how I do Stas.” And I’m like, “What happened? What does this kid look like? What’s his name?” I was checking the date and time because, initially, because I’m in recovery, I’m showing up at the meeting. And it’s going to be a problem.
And he walked me through. He’s like, “Look, I showed him my insurance card, he said as long as I stay 17 days, he’ll give me 1000 now, and he’ll give me 2500 when I leave.”
And the worst part about this story already is, you know what this losers hope really is, too.
I know what you’re going through. So, I’m like, “Stay put,” cause I’m getting angry right now, my back’s starting to sweat. I call the facility and I call our contact there and I’m like, “Listen, this is what happened. X, Y and Z.” He’s like, “I’m on it. I’m on it. Which meeting did they go to. [inaudible 00:27:02] I’ll find out.”
Sure enough, kid ends up in California. Right. Can’t turn the money. Enticement, like we talk about. It’s a lot of money. The kid got high the whole time there. The mom’s calling me, “Stas, where’s my son, I need you your help.” Crying, late night phone calls.
Which is what that guy banked on.
He banked on it. Because now they get him into their grips.
Now he does the rehab, not to shovel, because he’s going to be one. They’ll keep him in. They’ll pay him again. He’ll go out and get high. When the money runs out he goes back again and they keep him in that circle.
They banked on it.
That circuit that they have. It’s insane.
The house manager was supplying.
I would like to light that place on fire.
The house manager, was the dope dealer.
It was that bad?
So we’re talking trap-house.
We’re talking, legitimately, a trap-house. And as long as you stay, and he kept getting high so he kept pissing hot so it’s detox, detox, detox, detox.
Now, keep in mind too, and I want to always throw this out there, right. I want to remind anybody who hears guys like us talking about this, these are extreme examples and thankfully they are exceptions to the rule. The truth is, most people are good places.
Most places are good places.
A lot of their hearts are in the right place. A lot of them, now there could be nuanced stuff like, “Oh, you’re not really supposed to be doing that,” but not like, this is the most brutal … Like, you’re talking about pay to play, people giving addicts money.
This is the worst type of scumbag out there.
Skipping the middle man, which would be money, and just supplying the drugs.
And it goes on.
It goes on for sure.
And it goes on.
Luckily for this kid, the mom flew out to California, grabbed her son and brought him home.
How insane that she even had to do that. How crazy is that.
That’s a crazy story.
Now, there’s not conversation to be had with those people, by the way, that did it. There’s no gray area there. They need to go to prison. That’s it. They need to go to prison.
Yeah, it’s straight up fraud. K
-straight up. Oh my god.
With investigation, obviously, with mom. I’m getting the name of the facility. I already got it, was already submitted.
Yeah, it’s got to be done.
And again, there’s also that ethical and then there’s also our moral. For us. For us as an individual. You’re in recovery, whomever is in recovery, we have like a step dedicated to, a searching and fearless moral inventory.
It’s funny that you say that because one of the things when I was on wall street, they would talk about individual ethics. There’s ethics that apply to situations in life, and then there’s individual ethics. And, when those two things sometimes can even conflict, but I’m not going to go there. But now, you had also told me when we were talking about this, about trolling in meetings, that they even troll sometimes in the airports, right? That’s crazy, too.
Stories back in the day.
When I first started in the industry … Again, this was some years back, and I have a few years in this industry. So Florida was still, it didn’t have a black eye yet.
Cranking. They were getting 10, 15, 20 people a day, probably.
And we had an individual, worked with the family, young man. I’m like, “Call me as soon as you get off the plane, the facility is going to be picking you up at the airport to take you into the residential.” No problem. So I’m on the phoned and we’re just being guys on the phone. I’m like, “Yo, I’m really proud of you, get a tan, but get clean.”
And I, this is almost like a joke, it’s almost hard, because you had to have seen this scenario. I’m just in my living room, I’m on my phone, and I hear, “Hey kid,” in the background. He’s like, “Yo where you going, treatment?” And I’m like, “Yo, who is that?” And the guy is like, “I don’t know.” I’m like, “Just keep him moving.” He’s like, “Hey, hey, hey, yo! What treatment center you going to?”
I can see it! Oh my God, I’m getting pissed. I could see what was going on. The kid’s like, “I’m going to such and such.” He’s like, “Why are you going there? Dude, I got you.” And I’m over here, I’m like, “Who the … is this!?” And he’s like, “Stas, I don’t know.” I’m like, “Put him on the phone! Just put him on the phone!”
And I’m over here and he’s like, “No, no, no I’m not talking to anyone. Listen, where you going? Listen. You come here I’ll give money.” And I’m like, just … I’m like, “Put him on the phone.”
And the guy is like, “Stas, what am I doing?” Again, $500 is $500 to a kid!
They made their living doing that. Right? They made their living trolling airports for kids because, like you said, in Florida back then in those particular airports, they know them. They’re trained to see the kid.
Yeah, you could especially look. The arrivals coming from the north east.
That’s all it is.
So, eventually I’m like, “Put me on speaker, at least.” You know, and the Greek just comes out of me. I’m just like, “You mother f-er! Who are you? This kid’s supposed to go-” And meanwhile, I’m texting with the facility. They’re like, “Stas, we’re at the airport picking up the individual.” I’m like, “Some guy just scooped him up!”
He got hijacked. He got hijacked.
Right! And this and that, and they’re like, “Oh my God, call security! Call the-” you know what I mean? So we can pull the videotapes. This guy, and this is the most painful thing, is that, the guy who hijacked the kid is like, “And what the F are you going to do? What are you going to do?”
And the kid went, didn’t he go with him? He went with that guy.
I told you this story.
Yeah, I remember.
He went with the guy. Sure enough, a few weeks later, I get a phone call from the kid, cause obviously he had relapsed. And he was headed back into it.
To the same place?
To the same place. And I said, “You got to get out of there.” I’m working with the family.
That’s crazy man.
And I actually called a friend who had been in the industry for quite some time. And I was like, “I’m at a loss of words. What’s the protocol for this, besides snapping out? We can’t call the local police.” And he’s like, “You got to call the FBI. You got to call the FBI.”
Yeah but, in what- did they- like- we don’t … This is … We don’t have the resources for a while. That’s how that stuff went.
Again, just like any protocol, there’s a format that they have to follow as well. They have to take the notes, they have to make sure, they need to speak to mom and dad … To make a long story short, same kid, few months later called me from a facility, said he was doing great. He’s like, “Yo, I’m great, I’m doing great, I want to come back to where you are.”
So I called mom, I called dad, everything’s good. That was a Monday. Thursday the kid was discharged. It’s so hot, taking off the glasses. I get a phone call, Wednesday, from the kid again. He’s like, “Yeah man, look, I got to stay longer, I relapsed.” And I’m like, “I was just on the phone with you and the clinical director, what do you mean? What happened? What did you relapse on?” And he’s like, “Alcohol.” And I’m like, “Nah. No. You shoot dope. That’s what you do. That’s the type of addict you are. How did you get a hold of alcohol?”
He’s like, “This kid came in and he took us out.” I was like, “Slow down. I need to know everything. What did the kid look like?” I wanted everything. He’s like, “Yeah, he took four of us out.” “And you guys went to a bar?” He’s like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” And I was like, “Did the kid have 20s or 100s?” I’m just trying to put every single street scenario I can possibly think together.
He’s like, “The kid had four $100 bills.” I was like, “And how much did you drink? Because there’s four of you, 400 is not going to last that long in a bar.” He’s like, “We all had a couple drinks and then we had to get back, we had to sneak back.” I was like, “Is that kid still there?” He’s like, “Nah, they kicked him out.”
It was a setup. It was a stool. He came in there to take the kids out with a good insurance, to get the all to relapse so they can re-buckle. And I snapped on this clinical director.
Yeah, that’s the nature of that particular-
Is that place still around?
Yeah, unfortunately it is. Unfortunately it is.
They certainly didn’t get them all. I want to throw this out there as we’re doing this, cause one of the points of doing a live broadcast, is to have interaction with people. Otherwise we’re just doing another taped thing.
But, you guys don’t have it up on your thing, but I’ve got my little laptop here and I’m like, people have strong feelings about this stuff. And, Kevin, I’ll throw it out there to you because we’re doing the thing. We have no interaction at all. No one’s saying a thing. I don’t know if this is actually live streaming. I see the numbers. I was joking before and said that we have 6000 people in. I see zero of 200. May is the only person who’s said hello. We haven’t had a single comment. If anybody was watching this with the stuff we’re talking about, we’d be getting comments, cause people go crazy about this stuff. Literally nobody’s saying a word.
Kevin: So far we have 24, you guys are live. And, I think you’re looking at the character count that’s down there. 0-200 is-
Okay, fair enough. But I mean, all I saw is May saying “Hi boys,” so if anybody is watching and you care at all about ethics, I’d love to hear from you if you think that we’re on the wrong path or if you have a story or if you agree or disagree. Or, you think Mark is an idiot. I want to hear about it.
Linda’s here, and she just told me that she’s here, so I know Linda’s here. Which is great news. Anyway, I just wanted to make sure. Because one of the whole points of doing it live is that we like to have people saying like hey, but what about this and what about that. Some of the stuff we’re talking about is kind of brutal.
Some of the viewers may not know much about this stuff, too.
Yeah, fair enough. That’s a good point.
Just to recap, those two kids though, are both clean today. They’re both clean.
Now, there’s the reverse of that, where those kids die.
So, that’s two out of how many we’re talking about?
Those are the outrageous things, but I’ve said it and I’ve said it before on the last live one. And I like to think … Sometimes, not all the time, because sometimes it’s all bad. And the clinical side is bad, too. But, a lot of times, the clinicians, most of these places care about the clients.
A lot do.
Because you don’t get into that to make a lot of money. The business side taints the other side of it.
No question about it.
But then again, but sometimes it’s not always the case. Because if the ownership or whatever is knowingly turning an eye blind eye to that stuff, they probably don’t care much about their clinicians and stuff either. And when the clinicians aren’t cared about, they don’t care about their clients and the clients get bad care.
No, you’re right. Just so you know, Linda said that she actually loves you. And then somebody named JD said you’re a total fool. So. I’m just throwing it out there. Somebody out there loves you and somebody else thinks that you’re a fool.
Sounds about right.
So, again, one of the other things we talk about is the wide range of different kind of unethical stuff that goes on. And now you’re talking about, this is some very serious-
It’s heavy stuff.
These are the heavy stuff that goes on in the field that’s just brutal. Then there’s the lower grade stuff that people probably shouldn’t really be doing but they do. And one of them that we had brought up was, marketers, for different facilities, promising clients whatever they got to promise them to get them to come to the facility. I’m not talking about money or anything real.
Like cellphone usage.
I’m talking about, “Oh, am I going to be able to have my laptop, can I use my laptop every day?” “Absolutely!” Meanwhile, there’s no way you’re going to have your- you’re in blackout. Depending on the place. Everyone has their own rules. But for us, you’re in blackout for several weeks where you’re not going to get a laptop or whatever. Are there exceptions to those rules? Maybe if it’s a professional person and they need it at night.
Running their own business.
To do business stuff. You don’t want to be an idiot about it. But you have to have strict-
“Can my girlfriend come? I met her in detox.” “Yeah, yeah, no problem.”
Exactly. “Oh yeah, you can bring her, she can come and visit with you,” and stuff. Absolutely not. But marketers will tell. Now, one of the things, Stas and I were joking about it, but it’s not funny. Is that an ethical problem? It’s a problem for the facility. I know it drives me and it drives the executive and clinical directors bananas. Because you’re telling clients whatever they want to hear.
You’re setting them up.
You’re setting up the clinicians for a difficult person.
Right. I think, that’s business ethic. There’s no training behind that. You know what I mean?
Again, somebody, five months clean or sober gets a job, they’re just trying-
They’re just trying to do their job.
Maybe their intentions are good but they’re like, “Yeah dude, cellphone? Got you. What do you need? A haircut?” Or, “Yes, of course your girlfriend can come and hang out with you.” So they’ll say whatever, and then worry about the repercussion later. Because, I mean, being in recovery, let’s worry about the repercussion later. We just want what we want now.
You want it fast and shiny. We want to look like we’re doing a good job.
It’s like promising somebody to skateboard or something like that.
I was just going to say this! Here it was, I happened to be on the phone with a client one time and he just mentioned that he skateboards. And I said, “I skateboarded as a kid, too, and I probably still have one lying around in my garage.” And I was like, “You know, if I’m up there I’ll bring it.”
And sure enough, something small like that, I get a phone call from Joe and Richie telling me to come into the office. He’s like, “You promised this kid a skateboard?” I was like, “No! I said I used to skate!”
First off, they didn’t believe me that I used to skate. It started with that. But, something that’s just in that conversation. So we have to be mindful and obviously and bring that in all of our first. Because something that small and insignificant, a client says that he promised me that. And it’s like, wow, wow, wow. And all of a sudden …
That small and insignificant? Someone might leave, which we know is never good for someone, if they don’t get it.
Well that, too. But then there’s also the, you’re not allowed to do that. You can’t give anybody anything of any kind of value to get them to come to your place. Stas wasn’t doing that.
Again, I was connecting on something and it just happened …
Yeah, he was just chatting and you know, maybe we can skateboard around the parking lot and show tricks or whatever. But it doesn’t matter. In that client, he heard, “Oh, if I go there this kid’s going to bring me a skateboard.”
You know what I mean?
I hear that when I come in and I’m like, “Wow, what?!” Because we take that stuff super seriously. We don’t promise anybody anything.
And again, something that small, or how about this, telling clients that we have certain modalities? Of course, that we can handle certain things. And then just to shoot ourselves in the foot when they send the clinical over from the case manager.
Yeah, that we can.
And then all of a sudden they’re like, “Wow, hey John, I thought you said you can handle this at your … “
Or, “You guys offered this.”
“Don’t you guys offer that? Don’t you guys offer a surfing track? You said that you offer … “
It’s not worth the [crosstalk 00:41:33].
A soccer track or a foot- you know what I mean?
It’s not worth the short term win.
Now I see a bunch of stuff coming up.
By the way, I want to say that I got a text message, someone-
He was only kidding with you by the way.
I want to know who JD is, I’ve been thinking about it since you mentioned it. And then …
He was totally joking. He says, “Mark’s awesome, I was totally kidding.”
The other thing …
Who is JD?
I thought he was joking. I never thought-
The other thing is, I got a text message, someone had signed in and I guess Kevin, it’s for you, through LinkedIn and she’s unable to comment. I don’t know if it’s …
I think you got to do it through YouTube. Right?
Kevin: You got to do it through YouTube and then she’d have to sign in to her Gmail account to comment.
So it’s just multiple …
So do that. If you’re signed in through LinkedIn or whatever, there’s other ways that you have to find.
Are you watching? Did you catch that?
Yeah, you heard what he just said. Mandy actually just said, “What about pay to play? Cash and envelopes?” And, that’s one of the things that we know …
We just spoke about upstairs.
It’s one of the things that we know that goes on. I mean, yes, to answer your question, yes. That definitely does go on in this field. It’s unfortunate and it’s not a gray area. It’s very black and white and wildly inappropriate and illegal. You can’t do that. And we know that it happens.
There’s no doubt that it happens but it’s so hard to prove or to see or …
Who do they go for? It’s hard to proof, granted, it’s hard to proof.
Stop. It sucks.
This is one of those things where everyone in the field kind of knows, like you have a particular place that does whatever. Whether a detox or rehab or residential, whatever. Everyone can do it.
It’s every level, by the way.
All levels. What they prey on, or who in our facility would people prey on? You two. You guys direct pretty much where, you know, Joe and I, we’re removed from that now. You guys pretty much direct where people go. If they’re going to go to this particular detox or this residential facility or whatever we’re going to need to send someone to get them where they need to be. You guys are making those decisions of, “Okay, let’s send them here, let’s send them there.”
We have an approved list of people that we’re not supposed to call, but I don’t care. It’s people that we trust, that we do business with, that we know are doing the right thing by clients. And so, you guys have that list, and then you kind of make sure that everybody within that list and that we’re portioning it and that we’re sending people to places that we trust that we know are going to do a good job. But, you guys are the ones that someone will approach and will say, “Hey dude, look man, we need some people and man, what a cash opportunity for you two guys.” And it’s easy to justify with yourselves. You’re like, “Well, they’re good guys. And they have to go someplace for detox. So what difference does it make, right? If I can make a little bit extra, I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m not hurting the kid, I’m getting him into detox.”
I can see people justifying that with themselves for sure. It’s easy to justify that. Bullshit. It’s illegal for a reason. Once you go down that road, you’re now, again, these are peoples lives on the line. You’re not making the decision for what’s best for the client. You’re making the decision for what’s best for you, you’re profiting off of someone’s sickness and addiction in a way that’s outside of an appropriate framework. You’re taking that cash in an envelope, and they’re going by your house once a month, because you’ve given them X amount of referrals and they’re tracking it all. And then somebody comes by your house and gives you an envelope with $2000 in it. Or $4000 in it. Whatever the number is. And if that happens once a month …
Even if it’s a dollar. It doesn’t matter.
Yeah, it doesn’t matter what it is. My point is, you can see the pitfall, the moral hazard. And it’s like a tractor beam of greed where 50-60.000 cash a year in an envelope that nobody’s the wiser, and I’m not hurting anybody. Bullshit. You’re just telling yourself that.
And I know it goes on. And I know for sure. Now, do I have video tape of somebody taking money under the table? No.
Specific players? No.
Obviously not. But don’t think for a second that the Department of Justice and these folks who’ve now learned a lot of lessons in Florida, and they’re learning them in Florida now. Cases are being, and are probably going to be brought in California in a big way very, very soon. I think some of those people, that’s why they’re filing licenses in other states now, because they’re just waiting for the shoe to drop.
But, they’re definitely going to be looking at that. They’re looking at all that stuff here, too. And don’t think for a second that they don’t work in conjunction with other entities to see cash deposits and this and that …
All they got to get is one person caught on tape, and what will happen is …
It will all unravel.
It will all unravel [crosstalk 00:45:53] talking about everybody.
We could take it a step further, even with gifts. Not just cash in hand. It’s gifts.
No, it’s gifts. Oh yeah. Designer handbags and stuff.
And we’ve heard, we don’t have actual … But we’ve heard through, you know, designer handbags, certain expensive lavish dinners, vacations get paid for, so on and so forth.
Oh I’ve heard all kinds of, like season tickets to football games, crazy stuff.
What you just mentioned here, us being the approachable kind, I’ll speak for Mark on this is that, luckily for us, we have a very good reputation. But we’re also known as kind of no-nonsense. So a lot of that stuff stays away from us. And we’re very particular on actually who do we speak to. We’re very nice to everyone, but there’s a lot of, “Hey, I’m unavailable,” text messages go out to people.
And we’re very cautious of who we have, who we sit down with. Meaning, for lunch and dinners. Because dinners can be viewed in a certain way, or whatnot. The same, coffee and dinner, the same conversation can be had over coffee, in ten minutes, that can have over a $1000 dinner.
Do you know what I mean?
So, we’re very cautious about that. And those who deal with us know we’re very cautious about that. And, sure, listen, we love what we do. We absolutely- I mean, this is what we do for so many reasons. Right? And we have fun doing it. We have fun helping people. Unfortunately, other people don’t view it that way.
No, you’re right.
And they will take advantage, and they have owners …
It’s more than a job, it’s a calling.
Right. They have owners saying, “Oh, so and so works there? I wonder If he or she would like this?” And it’s over a certain amount of dollar, which I believe it’s, like, you can bring coffee to people.
You know, some pens, some swag and stuff like that. But-
I base it all on, again, my extensive ethics training on wall street. Because they took that stuff very seriously.
And they, even wall street, cracked down huge. Back in the day?
But even that stuff, it happens there, too, come on [crosstalk 00:47:51].
Of course it does, but my point is.
God, there’s way more money online there.
But wall street changed the game, too. Some years ago, like we used to go out and we used to go and take clients [crosstalk 00:48:01] and oh my god.
You and many other people, places.
But then, wall street finally said, “No, we have fiduciary responsibilities and regardless of all [crosstalk 00:48:10].
[crosstalk 00:48:09] your gift, right?
To get the relationship- yeah. You want to keep it to like a 100-200 bucks-
If you’re just giving them something …
-or less or whatever it was, per year. And a lot of the hedge funds and stuff that we dealt with said, “I don’t care what your rules are, we want nothing from you.”
Now, so I know and I was trained that way for many years so when I came here, and I remember we had had a question, some of this stuff seems innocent enough. And, one of the places that we were dealing with that were making referrals to us and we were making referrals into them. We were just started to get to know these folks and they seemed pretty good. And I don’t think they were, I honestly don’t believe that they were trying to do anything other then to get to know us a little bit better. And they offered, “Would you guys like to go to a Nicks game?”
And they said, “You guys want to go to a Nicks game with us.” And I believe that they were just literally trying to get to know us better, to create more of a personal kind of bond so we would get to know each other and be more comfortable with each other. Which is cool. But, I’m not okay with that. If you really want to get to know each other, let’s go out for a coffee.
We’ll come by your facility and hang out. You come by here and hang out for half a day. I’ll order in some soup from … What’s the good soup place everybody likes to get the soup from. Not Hale and Hearty, which is the one that’s here?
No, Hale and Hearty.
No, but that’s New York City.
What’s the other soup place?
What’s the one that’s here?
Speaker 5: Panera?
“Let’s get some Panera and let’s hang out in the conference room for a couple of hours.”
Or let’s hit a meeting.
Well, if they’re so serious, we get a meeting with them. But the point is, going to Nicks games and Superbowl’s and this and that.
All that stuff is unnecessary and it’s just not appropriate. And you have to be very mindful when you’re in this field or any field of what’s appropriate and what’s not. It’s nice to get free stuff. Who doesn’t like free stuff? You mentioned the swag. You make a certain amount of, like a pen with the BlueCrest logo on it.
Dude, that’s a normal part of business stuff. You want people to have your pen and a reminder of who you are.
With your little phone number on it. That’s cool.
Yeah, the chap stick.
We’re not making $500 ballpoint pens.
No, we’re not making multiple … Yeah.
You’re making pens that you’re giving out to people as part of a normal marketing kind of deal, so people remember, you get the word out that you’re here and it’s a constant reminder, which is great. But then there’s other stuff that’s a little but less appropriate.
Let’s see. Okay, “A shady inducement as a provider, paying for patients premiums. Horrendous.” Agreed. Absolutely correct and that is, again, it’s another temptation.
‘Forgiving’, right? Out of pocket costs, stuff like that.
Waving. Waving is the, even better.
Yeah, absolutely. Again, let’s talk about the insurance companies. So for that, waving co-pays and deductibles.
You can’t do that. And it’s very clear why you can’t do it. Anybody who doesn’t understand that, if we were a place that does what some places do, where every single person who comes in, we write it off and never collected, never collected, never collected, deductible, deductible, deductible …
Guys, you can’t do that. And the reason you can’t do that, especially the co-insurance, is this, when people utilize their insurance, and they want to utilize their out of network benefits, insurance companies set it up that way on purpose. Because if you think it’s important enough to go out of your signed network, that you want to go to a specialty place like ours, then the insurance company basically says to you, depending on the percentage of what they pay because all policies are different but let’s just say, the insurance company pays 80% of it. Up to a certain amount of money, and then they cover everything. There’s a cap on it. And then after that they’ll pay 100%.
But for the first, I’m making up a number, $10.000 the insurance company is saying, “Yeah, we’ll pay $8000 of the first 10, but you have to pay two, cash. Out of pocket.”
If it’s important enough to you, this is what- Right.
“If it’s important enough for you and you want us to pay this money, you’re going to pay the money as well.” So, us as a place, what people justify with themselves is, “Well, I’m cool with just the eight, don’t worry about the two.” No, no, no. You have to get that money because the insurance company’s not okay with that, and they shouldn’t be. If you really want to utilize you’re out of network benefits you got to kick in. The insurance companies make that a rule. We don’t have a choice. You have to collect or make every legitimate effort in the world to, otherwise, you got to make a referral to them and say, “Look, if you can’t do that, maybe you should consider in-network options,” which is what we do. Because it’s just not right and it’s not appropriate.
So, that stuff is pretty clear. There’s really no gray area, per se. But they’re not as blatant as what she’s saying, which is, “A shady inducement is a provider paying another patient’s premium.” I mean, that’s just straight up, right? Somebody has cobra, got fired from their job. It cost them $780 a month to pay to cobra.
They’re going to come to your treatment facility, it’s a rockstar insurance policy and the facility sets themselves, “Well, I can make $30.000,” I’m just making up numbers, “I can $30.000 and all it’s going to cost me is 750 bucks to pay the premium?” It’s a no-brainer. It is a no-brainer!
You can’t do that.
And so, places that are doing that kind of stuff, again, you can see how people easily justify it with themselves. I’m helping the family … You could say eight million things to justify it.
Rent. Like, BlueCrest is a partial with …
Cornerstone. Housing. You can’t just- that’s an inducement. Rent needs to be … right? You got to pay rent.
Insurance company doesn’t cover housing.
For any sober living places that you go to, there can’t be that [crosstalk 00:53:45].
Anytime a sober living says, “Just come where a place you can live here.”
There can’t be back and forth anything.
It’s no good.
You just can’t do that kind of stuff. It is what it is. There’s other alternative suggestions that can me made to people when they’re unable or unwilling to do … And a lot of times it’s not even unable. I mean, my experience, a lot of times they’re unwilling. They’re like, “Well, that place is willing to do it.” Well then you should go to that …
We hear that all the time.
But you should go to that place. I don’t know what else to say other than we don’t do that.
We say, for instance, we’re talking to a family, not even the client, let’s just talk about the family. We’ll talk about the family and they’ll say, “Such and such said they’ll do it for free.” And I said, “What will they do for free?”
Right, right, right, right.
‘Cause let’s talk, and I don’t bite my tongue when it comes to that, because most of the time they’re just uneducated or have poor information. And they don’t think that they’re going to get back billed or this or that. Or they’re not going to get some sort- and I say, “This is going to come back to haunt you. If a facility is telling you they’re going to waive X and X for you and X, why do you think that is?”
Let’s, you’re a mom, you’re a dad, you obviously have some sort of … Why is somebody just going to do this for you? Why?”
Now, this is all industry stuff that, there are certain practices that just kind of go on, and a lot of times, people do this stuff cause they don’t realize. And that is true. Joe and I, we went and we paid money to go to this, every year they do these symposiums and they do these weekends. In Cape Cod is a big one, [NJRC 00:55:24] is a big one. In our field, in the area, there’s a couple of big ones every year and the cape Cod-
But that’s appropriate. The symposiums, yeah sure.
Yeah, the Cape Cod one is a big one, where everybody from the field goes and we all talk to each other and we share ideas and we get to know each other and we talk to a lot of the clinicians that will come in. So the [Single Shingle 00:55:41], the [LCSW’s 00:55:41] and different people will come and they get their CEU’s for their license and stuff.
So these are pretty big events. There’s two big ones. And the Cape Cod one, Joe and I paid extra to go to this specific forum on ethics in the treatment industry. And we were very new to the field and we went there because we wanted to learn more. There’s no one booklet that you get. There’s insurance company rules, there’s state rules, there’s federal rules, there’s the licensing bureau rules, there’s so many rules, but there’s no one booklet to open up when you open up a healthcare company that does this. It’s kind of disjointed. There’s four different kind of sets of rules that overlap.
Well yeah, that’s when you’re new and you’re young, you can’t afford a compliance officer so you’ve got to be your own compliance officer. But you have a responsibility to seek that information out and to make sure. Ignorance isn’t a defense in a court of law. You can’t afford to be ignorant.
Didn’t know what the speed limit was.
Oh, I didn’t know. You can’t say ‘I don’t know’. You need to know. When you’re going to open a company you damn well better investigate and know what you’re doing. So we went, and you have these meetings. And one of the things that this law firm had told us, and it’s very common in this field and other fields, too, I’m sure, but to speak to this one, a lot of people make decisions and set up their businesses because they see seven other places do it the same way. So it must be okay.
And, one of the things this law firm told us is, it is not okay. It’s not okay. It’s not okay to set up your business in that particular way. How you incentivize employees like marketers, that’s a big deal. How you do that stuff. And one of the guys in the class basically said, “Well, our place does everything the right way.” And so the lawyer was like, “Okay, well that’s good. Tell me how you guys do it.”
And he’s like, “Well we do everything above board and everything is very specific. I get a base salary of X, and for that I got to bring in five people a month and then anything above five people a month, I get this extra and blah blah blah,” and he went in and described it all. And he said, “But, I have a signed contract and I only do it for this place, so I’m not sending anybody, I work specifically for this place, which makes it okay.”
And the lawyer said, “Oh, that’s awesome. It’s also completely illegal.” And the guy was like, “What!?” And he told the lawyer, “Are you kidding me?” And the lawyer said, “No, I’m not kidding you.” He said, “There’s no way that that’s … “
The lawyer said, “Dude, it’s not legal. You’re not allowed to do that. And let me tell you why,” and then he broke out the statues. You saw people in the room, “Oh my God. What?” People were getting freaked out because they didn’t know. Everyone else sets it up that way. There were 10 or 15 other things, little nuanced little things that you’re really not supposed to do. One of the things, some of them aren’t even nuanced. Like, paying for flights, or paying for buses or whatever it is.
Even local, right.
Well, yeah. But if you’re a company that advertises out of state, and somebody calls you from Ohio or Skokie Illinois, and they’re like, “Hey, I heard of you guys, you have a great reputation, I read your Google reviews and I really want to come there. I want my kid to come there,” whatever. “We’ve got insurance and blah blah blah.” And you’re like, “Oh, okay.” And you do all the thing and they’re an appropriate client and they would fit well for our facility or whatever. And then they’re like, “All right, well, so, how are you going to send us the airline ticket.” And you’re like, “We don’t send airline tickets.” And they’re like, “Well, what do you mean? We have to buy it ourselves?”
I’m like, “Yeah. How are we going to buy it for you? Insurance companies aren’t paying for that. Insurance companies don’t pay for any of that stuff and I’m not allowed to pay for it. So if you can’t get to us, let us help you find a local resource or something that you can get to. We’re not paying for your airfare. We’re not allowed to. It’s not legal.”
You’re not allowed to do that, period. I don’t care how you justify it with yourself, the rules that are in place are the rules. And people think that, the people I was talking about earlier, when Joe and I first got into this field, and this is a perfect example of the lie that people tell themselves in the treatment industry, in the treatment field.
Right, I’ve heard the story.
When Joe and I went, and we literally hadn’t even filed our license yet, we were still considering whether we were going to go into this thing. And I started thinking, when they first approached me, would you open up a rehab and what are you thinking? So I start doing my investigative work, I’m talking, I know a lot of people, I’m sober a long time, I speak all over the place so I know a lot of folks. And so, when you do the homework, you start realizing, not only do I think we could do this, I think we could do this better than most people do it. Because I have such a passion for this. And that’s what I told myself. And I’m like, “I think I can do it, I just have to find out more information.”
So I’m going, I’m talking to all these different places. One of the places that we were talking about earlier, I went and met with those people and literally, we’re not four minutes into meeting these people for the first time ever, we went for a coffee. And they were nice enough to see us. They were like, “Yeah, tell them to come down.” As many people did, they opened themselves up to us. They were honest. They gave us good answers about what works and what doesn’t and we met with a lot of good, really helpful people. Which, if you’re looking to open a place, it was super nice of them to even sit down with us when you think about it.
So these guys sat down with us, I started asking them a couple questions. We’re literally four minutes into the conversation, the guy goes, “Listen,” he said, “you guys, the fact that you’re now going to be opening and you’re going to be getting licensed and as you guys move a little further down the line, you’re going to start getting calls well before your license, just because people know who you are and they’re going to hear that you’re new in this. And believe me, you’re going to start getting phone calls, and you’re going to have to send people somewhere. So let’s do this, you guys are just opening a business, which means you’re probably going to need cash.”
And he said, “So, every time you get a call, you refer those people to us, and we’ll give you 500 bucks per person.” And I’m like, “Now, I’m brand new in this, but I’ve already read about all this.” And I’m like, that’s straight body brokering. And the guy goes, “Now, It’s totally legal, because we have a consultant agreement that you’ll sign. And as long as you sign a consultant agreement, it’s completely legal.”
No it’s not! It’s not legal! I’ll tell anybody who’s watching this, if you’re doing that, it’s not legal! So you can take all that paperwork and you know what it is? Evidence against you! Like, really? Do you think that that’s legal? It isn’t. It’s not legal, it’s called body brokering. And you’re not allowed to do it.
But, they might have actually-
They were convinced that it was legal, starters …
They might have been convinced that signing this …
Because they started in an LLC.
You could start an LLC right now while we’re doing this, right now, for $400.
You know, the Stas & Mark Show. You know what I mean? And all of a sudden, guess what? Stas & Mark consulting.
Done. Approved. 400 bucks. And if you sign here, that means you’re semi-employed here, so this is your job requirement. But, that doesn’t mean that it’s not body brokering.
So now, let’s move on to another one. Which, again, this is all stuff that goes on in the field. Call-centers. I mean, I’ve always been nuts about the call-center thing. I told Joe that when we were doing it. And Joe was always on board, man. Joe was always like, “I hear you, absolutely. Absolutely.” And so, one of the things that I said was, “We’re not doing call-center stuff. That’s not legal. I don’t know how people- I don’t get how it operates.” You have people who set up and advertise these 1 800 numbers, that people call into. Find a rehab, or help do this or help do that or whatever, however they set up their shit.
I don’t know what they all are. I would never use a call-center, and this is why. People are calling in or going online and they’re seeking out help, and these people are paying top-dollar to be the name or the number that people get so they call into the line. They hire a bunch of people and pay them X amount, a thousand an hour, and then every time they get one they probably get some bonus. I don’t know how they set it up. Whatever.
But those people now, who run those places, reach out to places like mine. I’ve gotten calls on them a gazillion times. I tell them all to screw off. Because, I don’t like that. What they do is, they tell you, “Look, I can give you qualified, out-of-network leads, where people looking to get into rehab. Your conversion rate is going to be super high and blah blah blah, they’re using all these terms. And it’s $1700 per lead. $2400 per lead. Dude, that’s patient brokering!
I don’t care what agreement you sign, there’s no way that stuff’s legal! And it’s going on everywhere!
It’s weird that they call them a ‘lead’. Even.
Yeah, a lead.
Like it’s … yeah.
Exactly. And conversions. But, listen, I get it, but I’m not doing any of that. Because, when we went to these things and those law firms put on these things to teach you ethics in the treatment field, it’s very clear that that stuff is not- Now, it may go on. And more than one person may be doing it, but that doesn’t make it right. And that doesn’t make it legal.
And at some point, when the authorities start paying attention, it’s going to go down like dominoes, in my opinion. So, you know, when you are a place and you start getting more of a reputation like ours, right? When we started off almost three years ago, we were small. We were getting calls and we start doing some intakes and we get some people and you start building and you start building … People see us all the time now and they’re like, “You know, you guys have such a great reputation.”
And my thing is always like, “Yeah, you know what? There’s a secret to that. Do the next right thing, always.”
You get a miracle reputation.
But the thing is, that for us, as we’ve gotten busier, we get more phone calls. And you have to get the word out about who you are. I think we’re best in the business. If you don’t, you shut it down. All places think they’re the best and the greatest.
I think we’re the best at what we do. So I want to get the word out to the world. Right? To every place that you can think of that someone’s dying of addiction, call them, because I think I can help. So you advertise and you get the word out, you put up a billboard, you do this you do that. Now you start getting incoming phone calls. That’s a call-center. A call-center for us is just people that we hire, that we organically trained, our people, our way. People with heart, people with integrity. People who don’t ever, because it takes their time.
I got Nick standing and watching us, and Nick, him and Melissa, they answer the phones. There’s nothing, not worse, but there’s nothing, when you’re on a Saturday and you’re getting phone calls directed and you were on your way to the beach. And you get a phone call, and you get somebody who has absolutely no insurance, no medic-aid, no nothing. They need help and they need help today, and they have no idea what to do. Most places would look at that as …
Get a pen. Let me give you the 1-800 number, the IME number that New Jersey set up and they’ll be able to help you. No they won’t. The whole thing is totally ridiculous. But whatever.
So, they give them a 1-88 number and they say, “You know, I’m good.” See, for us, a call-center has to be, this is an extension of us and our moral values and our principles and the way we show up. And so, that means, if anybody reached our call-center, they help them find a place to go.
They give them the top three places for someone with no insurance. And then they tell them, “Write all this down, do you have an email address? I’m going to email you exactly the process. They won’t let us call for them.”
Right, we’re not allowed to.
Any of those places, they won’t let us, because otherwise we would. But the clients have to call themselves. We always tell them, “I want you to, if it doesn’t work?”
Call me back.
“Call me back. There’s other stuff we can do. These are just your top three best options. If there’s no beds, call me back, and we’ll go to the next stage. But we will find you something.”
Now, it takes longer to do one of those. Somebody with good insurance, we’re on the phone for 20 minutes, they’re in detox.
That’s easy. But the ones where they have no insurance at all, or medic-aid’s a little easier.
Yeah, they’re difficult to place.
The ones with no insurance is very difficult to place. But that’s your responsibility. You have a moral responsibility, right? It’s an ethical responsibility.
To help them find what they need.
To help people find what they need. Or, you don’t. Like, I can only speak for us and for what we do and how we conduct ourselves. But that’s the rules that we set in place because it’s right. Because it’s what’s appropriate.
What’s also just, like those phone calls that come in on a Saturday or Sunday, a lot of times it’s just, they just need to talk to someone. You know? They just want to talk to someone. They just want someone to listen. They want someone to help navigate or give them a different perspective. And a lot of the stuff just turns into recovery calls.
Yeah. Most of the time.
It’s just, you’re just on the phone, you’re just talking recovery. And, for the one that are a little bit more challenging as far as like, they typically do come on the weekends. So a lot of stuff is, you know, it’s a skeleton system in most of those facilities, to help navigate. But it’s like, “Yo, here’s my number. Call me back if this doesn’t work, and we’re going to figure it out. We’re going to get it done together.” I mean, when you think about it, it’s just gratitude and it’s part of being in service and just doing good work, too. But if I’m really just home on a Saturday, chilling on my couch, somebody’s looking to save their life, I have a moral obligation.
It’s no big deal anyway.
I’m on it. Absolutely.
Or if I’m out doing something. It’s the same thing.
It’s only going to be like, you know, it’s a small piece of time for the bigger picture.
So now, again, with ethics in the treatment industry we can go on and on and on, and we’ve come to the end of our hour plus. There’s so many different areas and aspects of this that we can talk about and we could do a part two and a part three and we can tell some other stories that are kind of scary. But, the we were going to end this particular podcast is, that we came up with a list of five specific, individual people, and five individual treatment facilities that we know are doing the wrong thing. And we’re going to name them. No, I’m only kidding. We’re not doing that.
People are watching and are like, “They are! Oh my God!” That would be so insane!
Nick’s face! He was like, “Oh god … “
But dude, at some point, that’s what’s going to come down to. The honest truth is, that most of the people that we know, are good folks.
And that’s just the truth of it. It’s here in New Jersey. It’s here. The little ones, some of the ones that are right in the middle there. I know that there’s some pay to place stuff that definitely goes on. But, the worst of the worst stuff, I don’t really see that here in New Jersey, yet.
On the way.
It’s coming to a theater near you. And we all have to be mindful and watchful.
Well, you have to be prepared.
Prepared for it, and mindful it, and watch out for each other on that stuff. And watch out for New Jersey and watch out for the families. We can’t turn a blind eye. We can’t turn a blind eye. And when we see that kind of stuff going on, there’s actions that you can take and there’s stuff that you can do. So, for now, having these kinds of conversations and having an open conversation about it definitely can be helpful, I think. I’m always open to, I do this, and I’m always open to do it for anybody that you haven’t had a conversation with me before. I talk to owners of other places and executive directors of other places and that we have good back and forth and open conversations about this kind of stuff. And to be mindful and whatever. And I’m open to talk to anybody about that kind of stuff, because it’s important. And because, you know, what we do is just too important man. We’re not selling tires.
And start helping people.
This is serious stuff, man. People’s lives are on the line. If you can’t take this stuff seriously then I don’t know what you can.
Thank you guys for an excellent podcast.
Thanks for having us again.
Thank you for the few people that did throw in some comments and questions and things that you’ve had some experience with. And until next time. Don’t you go changing.