Junkie Hunters: The Price of Pain

TOLEDO, Ohio (13abc Action News) - Heroin Addiction is a multi-billion dollar business for treatment facilities. With all that money at stake, some unscrupulous people masquerading as "helpers" to addicts in need of treatment are raking in big money.

There is a high price on the heads of some drug addicts. It's called "junkie hunting." They are people who actively recruit addicts into high priced drug treatment centers.

High priced treatment facilities can cash in on private insurance reimbursements call them "Recruiters". These people search drug neighborhoods, homeless shelters and even recovery meetings looking for addicts who need detox and treatment. When they are delivered to a facility, they are given a "finders fee".

13abc talked with Jessica Williard. She was lost on drug infested streets in Pennsylvania six months ago. She told us that she was hooked on opiates. She told us she was recruited to come to Toledo.
"I'm like I have nothing here for me so why not go to a difference place and try to get my life together?"

She was promised there was a "scholarship" and beds available. So Jessica and another hopeful addict came to Toledo.

The practice of recruiting patients and taking them to recovery facilities in different states has been outlawed in places like Florida. DART Detective Lt. Bob Chromick said addicts are easy and vulnerable targets. He said "In speaking to the addicts who are currently detoxing when they're dropped off here, they're telling us that they were promised the world and when they get here it is not what they're being told."

Ohio does not currently have laws prohibiting recruiting addicts in exchange for a "finders fee" for certain programs. But Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp hopes lawmakers will try to pass new laws. He told 13abc.com that "somebody should not be reaping the profits for bringing someone in to get assistance and get help. This head hunting in my humble opinion should be illegal."

The good news in this story is that Jessica has been clean for six months and is working to get her G-E-D. But others who don't remain in treatment find themselves lost in an unfamiliar city without friends or family to support them.