Adolescent Disappearance Threatens Cartwright’s AAC Branding

Addiction Treatment Industry Newswire
American Addiction Centers CEO Mike Cartwright 05/18/2013 -ATIN – A growing controversy involving the disappearance of an adolescent boy while under the care of a South Florida addiction treatment drug rehab alcohol rehab center recently acquired by Michael Cartwright’s American Addiction Centers (AAC) threatens, if the media coverage becomes national and extensive, to tarnish the very expensive national branding efforts undertaken over the last year by Cartwright and AAC, the first such effort to create a coast-to-coast treatment operation since the freewheeling go-go Wild West pre-managed care explosive expansion era of addiction treatment in the 1980s.

Too Early

At this point it is far too early to determine exactly what has happened in the case of teenager Billy Patient, who disappeared while on a beach outing earlier this month while under the care of AAC Florida Model adolescent provider The Academy, which is based in Palm Beach, FL the assets of which AAC acquired from well-known addictions client brokers Treatment Solutions, which in recent years also branched out into providing addiction treatment services themselves in competition sometimes with their brokerage provider clients. Reached by Treatment Magazine just as he was returning from the famed European addictions conference UKESAD in London, Cartwright refused to comment, citing HIPAA privacy laws and ethics. As Coast Guard units searched the Atlantic Florida seas, fearing a drowning tragedy, the youth’s family lashed out at AAC, accusing the adolescent provider of misleading the family by saying the youth would be staying in luxury home in western Palm Beach County while attending IOP in a community housing IOP model, when in fact Academy clients were being housed at a motel. While refusing to comment directly on the Patient family situation, Cartwright denied that AAC engaged in deceptive marketing practices in any manner. It is not unheard of in the addiction treatment industry for a center marketing/admissions representative to exaggerate the luxury aspect of the housing component of treatment in the heat of trying to close a sale, with some very unscrupulous providers even going so far as to advertise on their website and brochures completely misleading information. However, there is zero evidence so far that AAC and the Academy have engaged in such practices and Michael Cartwright, among the most successful treatment entrepreneurs in history, has a sterling, decades long track record of delivering pioneering addictions care of the very highest quality.

Florida Model for Adolescents?

However, this still begs the question, one that many addiction treatment participants in the South Florida market have been asking, which is, given that fact that adolescent addicts are probably the most at risk population to treat in all of medicine, how appropriate is it to apply the Florida Model – IOP with community housing – to the treatment of adolescents? While state regulators, such as DCF, have said that the Academy is operating completely legally within the parameters of its state licensure, it seems clear that the tragic case of young Billy Patient could prompt a Tallahassee regulatory examination of the Florida Model, which is already the subject of increased regulatory scrutiny in other major addiction “treatment hubs” like Arizona.

read our SPECIAL REPORT on Michael Cartwright and AAC