Are Investors Earning Money From People Suffering From Addiction?

Are Investors Earning Money From People Suffering From Addiction?, Lynn R Webster, The Painful Truth

When I saw NPR’s headline, Investors See Big Opportunities In Opioid Addiction Treatment, I wasn’t sure whether I should feel angry or simply disbelieving. Are investors really earning money on the backs of people suffering from addiction?

So many of us see addiction as a thief who steals our ability to think and function — and maybe even to live. Is it really possible there are people who see addiction as a major business opportunity?

According to “All Things Considered,” the answer is yes. Investors are buying up addiction treatment centers as hot commodities.

Investors Earning Money from Addiction

“The opioid addiction crisis is boosting demand for treatment and two relatively recent laws are making it easier to get insurers to pay for it,” NPR explains. The laws that NPR cites are the Mental Parity Act of 2008 (which calls upon health insurers to pay for mental health treatment just as they do physical health treatment), and the Affordable Care Act which is better known as Obamacare.

As it happens, I see both the Mental Parity Act and Obamacare as helpful to millions of Americans, but what shocks me is the fact there are privileged people out there who look into addicts’ eyes and see dollar signs.

From Addiction to Dollars?

I doubt this was the intention of the Congress’s support of these laws, but this appears to be the path that investors are now taking. The increased Federal funding for addiction treatment is being leveraged into a Wall Street type of business. Wow!

It seems Mother Teresa missed the boat. She could have set up for-profit rehabilitation clinics all over India and earned millions. Instead, all she earned is sainthood.

To me, using addiction as a business model to profit handsomely seems perverse. Maybe I’m just an idealist, or maybe I have more respect for people who suffer from addiction than to see them as opportunities to increase bank accounts.

What Does This mean For People on Opioids?

Are people going to be treated for addiction who are not addicted because of newly created conflicts of interest? Will there be limits put in place regarding who can profit from this, and what the upper limit of those profits can be? Who is monitoring this?

Most of all, what does this mean for people in pain? And what does this mean for people with addiction? The focus must always be on the patient and not the dollar.


Purchase my book The Painful Truth: What Chronic Pain Is Really Like and Why It Matters to Each of Us (available on Amazon) or read a free excerpt here.

the painful truth, lynn webster, md, chronic pain

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Copyright 2016, Lynn Webster, MD


  1. Wayne S. Swanson II on June 27, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    I have taken this opportunity to share my heartbreaking story in hopes these witch hunting Opiate ill informed skeptics will read and understand that I would have no life without Medically prescribed Opiates by a physicians care and strictly monitored monthly urine and blood test. Please remember that An Opinion Before A Thorough Investigation Is The Epitome Of Ignorance! And that a little more compassion from the Medical Field and its representatives could have saved my beautiful Stepdaughters life. Let me say this! A person who has a addictive personality will abuse anything that helps them feel better. I have taken Oxycontin for 12 years , I have had 20 major surgery’s in 9 years. I have so much physical pain I can not even get out of bed with ouit pain meds and when I run out I run out and just lay in bed praying the Lord relieve me of this horrible condition and I pray God you pain med skeptics never go through what I go through everyday of my life when the only thing you have to do is threaten what help I get, Shame on you! There will always be drug abuse and as the so called war on drugs has failed all this will! All you do is stoke and aid the drug pushers business to knew heights in the Black Market of Heroin while depriving folks as me to this horrible movement! My Stepdaughter committed suicide 4 years ago because of being treated like a drug addict by her family and doctors when all along she suffered from Lupus and Fibro which I believe was brought on by a deadly car crash at 18 , she told me between that which I was being put through and what they were putting her through she was not going to live her life in such a hell brought on by people like you that are on a witch hunt to out law Opiates and pain meds that give us some sort of a life . As a retired Police officer and worked indirectly close to the DEA, you people do not have a clue how thrilled you are making the illegal opiate trade and think of my Late Stepdaughter as you continue on with this 2016 Version of the ( 1940s Propaganda Film named REEFER MADNESS )movement to outlaw opiates! Just like the slaughter of children at Sandy Hook if there would have just been gun laws , my God they were Gun Laws , the guns that murdered all those 20 children were all registered and owned by a school teacher! You fight Drug Addiction in Elementary education by teaching all children the dangers of Booze and Tobacco which if these witch hunters want for us to know the real truth but they do not. I miss my Stepdaughter a so much and some of us will continue on the fight to protect our right to feel better and function without fear of these witch hunters trying to convince us to commit suicide . And they are trying to do exactly THAT!
    The under line real truth is THESE witch hunters would rather us Chronic Pain sufferers commit suicide are and DRINK all the BOOZE we can drink! The Federals legalized it ( ALCOHOL) knowing its a more deadly drug than Strychnine. And just because the DEA has miserably failed with their witch hunt type movement on drugs why do they deprive us sick people of our Constitutional Rights to be Happy in that pursuit of with Professional Physicians to take meds that give us relief of this horrible malady of Chronic Pain ! May God have mercy on their miserable souls they that seek to destroy us Chronic Pain Sufferers only and little hope of temporary relief of this horrible sickness.

  2. Angel on July 11, 2016 at 11:10 am

    I’ve long wondered who’d been profiting from this new interest into federal pain medication restriction. I think your story above is a valid point. Id also like to add the non opioid drugs pushed as opioid substitutes I would not be surprised to hear the makers and investors of Lyrica as well as the makers of Suboxone pushing for opioid restrictions. I’m intimately familiar with the cruelty of this new system. My own father lost his medical license when a patient committed suicide. I am a pain patient, a medical school grad with intractable epilepsy and chronic leukemia. My life has been destroyed by pain I think the other patients like myself who’s lives have been destroyed deserve to know who’s meddling in our treatment and why

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