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Body Brokers, directed by John Swab, is a new movie about patient brokering in the addiction treatment industry. Patient brokering is a fraudulent means of admitting clients into drug rehabilitation centers. Unfortunately, the addiction treatment industry is fairly unregulated by the federal government, providing opportunities for unethical business practices.
The MGMT team watched the movie and felt particularly moved by it. We found it to be an incredibly accurate portrayal of addiction, and the treatment industry as a whole.
The movie tells the story of Utah, a drug addict living in Ohio, who is approached unknowingly by a patient broker, and admitted to a rehab center in Southern California. The protagonist’s story is based on the true-life experiences of the director, John Swab.
Part educational and part real-life drama, the setting begins in Ohio, Swab’s real-life stomping grounds. This is where Utah is introduced to the world of treatment and patient brokering by “marketer” Wood, portrayed by Michael K. Williams (widely known for playing the role of Omar in The Wire). Throughout the movie, we learn that Wood is also battling his own addiction.
The beginning of the film gives a quick introduction to the addiction treatment industry and how the Affordable Care Act has since affected it.
As the movie follows Utah’s very short journey to sobriety, we watch as he learns that not everyone admitted into a rehab facility is there for the right reasons. We don’t want to spoil too much of the film, but it is a raw and emotional thriller that could reflect scenes from many people’s real lives. The ending serves as a constant reminder that recovering from the disease of addiction is, for some, a daily battle.
MGMT Digital had the pleasure of sitting down with Swab and producer, Jeremy Rosen, to discuss the film.
During our conversation, Swab told us that making this movie was important because he knew first-hand of the negative effect patient brokering has had on other people’s lives.
“Nearly all of the film is based on John’s real-life experience and, what wasn’t, was based on other people’s shared experiences with patient brokering in Southern California.”
Without naming who specifically, Swab and Rosen confirm that almost every part of the film is based on one person’s experience.
Addiction treatment, like many other industries, can be quite controversial. While some people feel that addiction treatment and twelve-step support groups are not necessary to get sober, Rosen feels differently.
“I think there are good people in the treatment industry. I just believe the system in which they operate, is broken. When the system is broken, the nice guys finish last. Twelve-step programs were the only place I found genuine help.”
There are a few big takeaways that many people, including our team at MGMT Digital, have after watching the film. The first is the need for regulation and oversight at the federal level, from detox to sober living. In most states, you need more schooling and credentials to cut hair than is needed to open a rehab center or sober living home. Sober living itself needs to be a recognized part of the system so we can maintain accountability and transparency throughout the entire treatment process.
Another key takeaway is that addiction treatment sometimes isn’t the issue, but choosing the right program is. If more information is made available to those seeking treatment, and of what to look for in a rehab center (licensing, credentials, etc.), addicts have a better chance at choosing a legitimate facility.
Since the patient brokering boom, many states have taken action to stop the practice altogether. There are now protections that have been set in place, such as Legit Script. Legit Script requires treatment facilities to hold certain certifications before they are permitted to market themselves. Examples of states leading this practice are Florida and California.
In addition to licenses and verifications, treatment centers can utilize digital marketing to increase their exposure. MGMT Digital was started as a direct response to the patient brokering schemes that were, and unfortunately still are, taking place around the country. We believe there is nothing more ethical than a user going on a search engine and selecting a drug treatment facility at their own free will. Our clients are personally-vetted drug rehab centers that include an anti-kickback policy as a part of their program’s policies and procedures. They help every caller who reaches out to them because they understand the importance of someone reaching out for help.
We believe in the work that we do and hope that it continues to dampen the activity of patient brokering. This film was a stark reminder of the damage addiction causes and the lives that have been lost along the way. Today, we continue to fight for those who are fighting the disease of addiction.
The epidemic of addiction has not slowed down. Even though the year 2020 was dominated by COVID-19 in the headlines, overdose death rates and relapse rates have continued to soar to a record high. There’s never been a more important time for a film like Body Brokers to remind us that recovery is possible– but it takes work. There are no shortcuts to recovery. It’s a daily reprieve, and it takes working with others to keep the disease at bay.
Thank you to John Swab and Jeremy Rosen for taking the time to answer our questions and for sharing your personal experiences with the world. The biggest takeaway Swab would like viewers to get from the film, and the story is the truth. It recounts what happened to him and countless others when they went looking for help for their addiction. It takes a village to enact change and we hope this film does just that.
Make sure to check out Body Brokers, available now on Amazon Prime Video on Demand for rent or purchase!
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