Cashing in Big on the Opioid Epidemic

Recovering from Rehab – Work-Based Drug Treatment

Al Jazeera (2019)

Film Review

This documentary reports on an investigation into Cenikor drug rehabilitation centers in Texas and Louisiana that offer so-called “work therapy.” Instead of receiving individual and group therapy, clients are sent out to do unpaid work for private corporations. Some work seven 12 hour days a week as Cenikor pockets their paychecks as payment for their “treatment.”

Some clients work for Walmart distribution centers and others in dangerous jobs for chemical companies or the oil/gas industry. Those who are injured on the job are kicked off the program unless they continue to work. About half, referred by judges, risk being sent to prison if they leave Cenikor.

Only 8% successfully complete the 18 month program. According to a Department of Labor Official the filmmakers interview, Centikor “work therapy” violates federal labor law.

TheirĀ  website identifies Cenikor as a non-profit foundation. Their 2017 annual report reveals “program revenues” (ie the wages their clients earn) of nearly $18 million – representing over 80% of their 2017 income.