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Greg Horvath has produced a very disturbing documentary called The Business of Recovery, shining an unflinching light on an industry that is “selling hope to families in crisis” and making a fortune in the process, fleecing desperate parents and addicts of hundreds of thousands of dollars while getting less than stellar results. He interviews a slew of addicts who have been to treatment upwards of 10 times (some of whom died from addiction after the filming), as well as some top addiction experts and a few of the rehabs themselves.The Fix sat down with Horvath to ask him some questions.
What made you decide to make this film? Are you a recovering addict or have you ever been in rehab? Or do you have family or friends that have spent a small fortune to no avail?
I have experience with [the] 12 steps, rehabs, and worked in the industry for many years. I felt the way we were treating addiction wasn’t working nearly as well as was portrayed. I wanted to dispute or confirm this feeling.
How did you hook up with Adam Finberg (the director)? His background seems to be as an editor of reality and documentary TV.
Adam and I met at the Sundance Film Festival about 12 years ago. We have collaborated on a couple of other projects over the years. He is a very talented filmmaker and I hold him in the highest regard.
You interview a lot of experts and also laypeople on the street regarding the nature of addiction. What is your personal belief about addiction?
That’s an interesting question, always sparks heated debate, and that’s why we put it in the film. The one thing I noticed over my years of working with addicts was that they never wanted to debate with me whether addiction was a disease or not…they just wanted to get clean and/or sober.
I’ve been in quite a few rehabs (which might make your point). Most seem to be owned or run by people in recovery who actually believe that the 12 steps work because it worked for them. Do you think all these places are corrupt or do some have a true desire to help but it gets murky when profit is involved?
I have never questioned the passion or commitment of most of the people who work in the industry that believe that 12 steps work, because it worked for them. Just like I have never questioned the passion and commitment of most nurses and other medical staff that work at hospitals. However, if you had a child that has cancer, would you want them treated by nurses and medical staff who believe in a particular support group, or would you want your child treated by someone who is using what the science says is the best treatment for the cancer your child has?
You mention in your film that 10% of US rehabs are not 12 step-based. What is their main methodology? What is their claimed success rate?
Actually we did not say that, we said that 90% of the treatment in the US is 12 step-based.
How do you feel the rehab industry has changed now that many of them take insurance?