When an alcoholic accidentally ends up in the wine aisle

I made a wrong turn down in the grocery store a couple of weeks ago and ended up in the wine aisle. This was no ordinary wine aisle or grocery store. This grocery store is in Palm Beach - just a couple of miles from President Trump's Winter White House, Mar-a-Lago. This grocery store had valet parking. Many shoppers stroll the aisles with their untrained, fake service dogs - the ones wearing little service dog vests and tags their owners purchased online. The wine aisle is...well...stunning. Most grocery stores these days sell wine - some with corks but a lot with screw-off tops or in cartons. Even though I am 19 years clean and sober and very curious about wine packaged in what looks like a child's juice box, I still avoid the beer and wine aisle. During my drinking days, I bought a lot of wine in grocery stores. A lot. So, I just stay out of that aisle - even though it means I forfeit eating certain snacks, which - in my regular grocery store - are also sold in the wine aisle. I really don't need the snacks and certainly don't need the wine. But somehow, in this snazzy grocery store, I made a wrong turn. It took a couple of steps before "ruh-roh" popped into my head. But what the hell. I'm 19 years sober. No biggie. Just walk fast and look forward. My peripheral vision usually sucks but on that day, it seemed to be exceptionally good.


How insurance fraud and patient brokering can kill an addict

How insurance fraud and patient brokering hurt addicts. Drug addicts and alcoholics lie. We cannot abuse drugs and alcohol without also abusing the truth. Our careers as addicts and alcoholics begin with denial. We lie to ourselves about being able to control our drug and alcohol use. We lie to ourselves about our role in the pain we cause others. We lie to others about being high. We tell anyone who asks that we just had a "couple" drinks. We lie to our bosses. We lie to our kids. We lie when we relapse. Each lie spawns another lie. We lie so much and with such ease that lying becomes second nature. I used to believe that if I was not caught lying, then it wasn't a lie. That is why sobriety requires us to not only stop taking drugs and drinking but to quit lying. Just as we must stop hanging out, working and living with people who use drugs - we must do the same with dishonest people. That means we must stop lying to insurance companies and stop paying and taking kickbacks for referrals to drug treatment centers and sober homes. Corruption in the drug treatment industry is rampant. As an investigative reporter, I have spent the last two years uncovering unscrupulous treatment center and sober home operators. Many are themselves young addicts who came to Florida to get clean. They have seen other young addicts who have opened treatment centers and sober homes make fortunes filing bogus insurance claims for unnecessary - sometimes non-existent treatment and urine drug screens. They, too, crave fine watches, expensive cars, vacations, fine-dining and women. They are willing to do what addicts do best to get the lifestyle - lie. Here's how the insurance fraud works in South Florida.


Riding out a hurricane clean and sober

It's not easy being an addict or alcoholic - active or in recovery - during a hurricane. There were long lines outside the methadone clinic before Hurricane Irma ripped through south Florida. Addicts OD'd in shelters.

For those of us in recovery, the anxiety and...


The first morning of my sobriety

August 27, 2017

Nineteen years ago this morning I had an epic hangover and was trying to piece together what had happened the night before. Shards of drunken memories filled me with so much shame and guilt that I picked up the phone book.

"This sh*t...


Mr. President: This is the fastest way to provide more drug treatment

Last week President Trump declared the opioid epidemic and emergency. He did not offer details but assured us his administration will be "spending a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money" on the opioid epidemic.

If he is serious about this, he would immediately order the Department of Health and Human Services to grant waivers to states that wish to eliminate the federal Institute for Mental Diseases exclusions in the Medicaid...


Drug treatment telemarketers: Should you trust them?

Last week I got a very interesting call on my cell phone at work. I did not recognize the number. It was a New York area code. I decided to answer it because during my 2-1/2-year-long investigation of corruption in the drug industry I have been getting calls from parents and other sources across the country. A woman introduced herself and asked if I or a loved one had a problem with drugs or alcohol and would like help. I raised my eyebrows and silently chuckled. This is it, I thought. I finally got a call from a telemarketer for a drug treatment center. "Yes," I told her. "I do know someone with an alcohol problem. Me." I am an investigative reporter for a newspaper in South Florida - the epicenter of insurance fraud, patient brokering and telemarketing scams in the drug treatment industry. I am also a recovered alcoholic with nearly 19 years clean and sober. What telemarketer in her right mind would call me, of all people, offering me help for a substance use disorder? I knew what she would ask next.