Before we begin I want to explain the reasons for this post, I will also add the disclaimer now so that in case anyone thinks that they recognise themselves or their organisation in what I have to say, it is of course purely coincidental and as such there is nothing you can do. If you think you are involved and if it makes you angry, you probably are and if it makes you happier then just replace Cape Town with anywhere else.
Firstly, state run rehab centres have a well deserved appalling reputation, probably purely due to lack of funds to provide for an problem of epidemic proportions. Sadly I kind of understand the attitude of having a problem that is too big to even start tackling, so just brushing it under the carpet, amazingly, this country that is home to me and that I love has much bigger problems so where does one even start?! That is what it is though and for now I cannot do a lot about that other than help find people workable alternatives to prison or death.
This is really about the private rehab game and what motivates me is my frustration that all this effort goes into establishing trust amongst the recovery community towards treatment centres and rehabs and that the industry in Cape Town is still run essentially by two big players who are far from transparent. There seems to be a them and us mentality but I say 'we're all addicts aren't we?', let's work together.
Monopolies are rarely a good thing, especially when they are only serving the very small yet rich minority and ignoring the lower income majority. They can kid themselves all day long that they are providing a service and yes they are, to an extent, for the fortunate few but they are not providing an inclusive or even a more effective service than anybody else. I can match or better that treatment experience for the privileged, saving them a lot of confusion, manipulation and money along the way and I can put the money gained from that back into my adopted home, Cape Town, and everyone who lives here. A bold statement? Maybe. The fact that it's true is more or less irrelevant because these guys still have the lions share of the market and they will continue to do so until everyone stands up and holds them to account. Account about what it is that is unique about what they are providing? Account about whether they really giving people value for money? Accountability, Transparency and integrity are what grows peoples trust in a business, not loads of money and a haphazard, conveyer belt, non-result driven scam. I have no fear of backlash or of the money men in this business so it's ok with me, people need to know that they have options and not be manipulated through a series of back handers or essentially bribes by 'professionals' in the business. A large part of the problem is, I am aware, that this is South Africa, it's not the UK where such practices are less obvious and highly sanctioned. The corrupt ways come from the top down here and everyone regardless of their background or culture knows that there is something wrong that is a Cancer in this beautiful country. I can't solve that but I can do my bit about things around where my knowledge base lies.
So, where do I stand on recovery. Well, contrary to what some people believe, I am very open minded, I believe that recovery is for everyone regardless of anything. In my mind one human has as much right and should have equal access to an effective recovery for them. I like rehab centres because I have been through the system and know they work so in an ideal world I would strive to give everyone that experience. I am also, more importantly a huge fan and believer in the twelve steps and know that people have and will continue to get and stay clean and sober through this route. In fact, regardless of if you've been in a rehab or not the ones who are doing well and enjoying life are inevitably attending meetings. Not simply because the twelve steps are a design for life that anyone would benefit in working through but also because to me the single most important thing in recovery is free and that is the friendships and associations you meet usually through recovery circles and AA, NA or any of the other fellowships of recovery. Some people point towards treatment centres charging huge sums of money to teach what is a free program but it works and they know that and I found the rooms of AA through a rehab so I can't argue one way or another if they should be doing this or not. Again, to me recovery is not about how you got there but that you got there in the end. It's convenient to the centres of course to essentially get a free session for their clients that often teaches them more about recovery than they would ever learn in the place they have paid to enter. As I said, I think the pros of a twelve step program to base rehab on far outweigh the cons so I'm happy with the way it is but do understand the cynics point of view as well.
Another point was brought up recently about medical aid and it being able to be used for addiction issues as it is recognised as a disease. I personally believe that it is a disease of the brain and am kind of fed up of getting stuck debating that issue because I don't mind if people disagree. The question is not really is it or is it not a disease, it should be more, what can we do about it because it's fucking killing people everyday! I actually am pleased that medical aid pays for rehab because a stay in a quality rehab, amongst the right people is a valuable and beneficial experience, I certainly learnt a lot about myself in these places and partially credit them for where I am today. I do agree however that rehabs chase these patients with medical aid and it has got us into the money led rather than treatment led business that we are currently in. I also agree that many rehabs will struggle to survive without the medical aid thing but overall whatever benefits the client is a positive thing. Ideally if we can get people quality treatment with medical aid, earn a bit of money and push money back into treatment for all, then it's perfect. This is why we need to be cautious of monopolies and the way they are operating, we need people who are fighting for the greater good of addicts in Cape Town and not just for themselves and their next property or car or whatever. Anyone questioning my integrity should know that I have made a loss every month for 18 months and contributed to local charities along the way. This is because it is not about the money and I don't care about that. I'd like to recoup some of that someday but I can wait. Whilst there are still people out there who need us we will go on. We have a unique strategy for attracting a different group of people to Cape Town which I have every confidence will swell the numbers of people in recovery here and ultimately make recovery and even treatment accessible to everyone. It's a dream but if we keep being supported as we are by our loyal followers, it's only a matter of time. I'm very happy in Cape Town and it is my home, I want other people to experience that happiness and the peace of mind that comes with being authentic and doing what's right. It's a lot more relaxing than fucking everything up all the time like I did when I was drinking.
So, Let's not pretend, rehab is big business for a small amount of people. The problem I have with this is that when it's a business first, the people who need help become less important or unimportant if they are of no financial use. I can't fault the treatment or quality of councillors provided by these places, they are solid people who have the desire to help and the rehab game also dilutes the experience for them and frustrates them. What I can fault is the 'service' providers inability, despite profiting hugely from what is a very lucrative market, to help people without thousands to spend. There is one exception to this and he does all he can and buys into what we are doing at CapeRecovery but he knows who he is so I don't need to mention any names. I've thought long and hard about this over the years and I've had to reach a point where I am happy with what I am doing myself with CapeRecovery and also that I am happy to say what I say and be able to back it up. It's a dangerous game upsetting some people and it often backfires but I don't care about them or their reactions, I only care about my clients and the people in recovery. This clear financial discrimination concerns me because recovery is for everyone, that is the first and most important thing. People can get clean without rehab yet personally, the rehab experience got me where I am today. It's a means to an end, it helped me when I was desperate and I don't regret a thing. People also get clean and sober through the rooms, NA and AA meetings, either way it's getting there that counts for everything and not the way you do it. I don't see people connected with 'the big two' mixing with addicts in recovery, attending meetings regularly, or even encouraging any other route that doesn't put cash in their deep pockets. You could easily look at this private rehab situation from the outside as a scam and I'm not going to fully disagree, however I must try to keep an open mind and hang onto the belief that the majority of these people are inherently good and do want to help. It's just the motivation, the level of help and the criteria that they use to decide who to help that raises concerns for me. I wish I could trust all their motives but I've uncovered too much to make even the most tolerant and accepting person sit back and think to themselves 'that's a good service'. Don't get me wrong, as a business model it's brilliant, it brings in the money from the ones that have it. As an ethical business model however, it is appalling. Where does that money go, well most of it into the pockets of the big players, people who you will rarely or never actually meet, the front line staff get paid a pittance and are some of the best, most caring and approachable people I've met. They need to pay the bills so they work for whatever these cowboys feel they can allow which is not an inspiring wage by any stretch of the imagination. These great people become disillusioned, demotivated and ultimately leave which to me is criminal. I've learnt so much from some of my excellent councillors here in Cape Town and I'd certainly hang onto them at all costs if they worked for me.
My motivation for putting this down in a post is not to ruffle feathers though inevitably it will, guilty people hate the truth and I've got my lawyer on speed dial! I'm not going to mention names, anyone with a bit of knowledge of the industry knows anyway and a quick Google search, apart from CapeRecovery of course, will land you in the same roundabout system with no choice and probably paying a lot more than is necessary.
I don't want to annoy, just educate. Agents in this field don't care about the individual, I have heard from ex-employees of these people that they are instructed to put the phone down if the person has no money or medical aid. Now, this is not a service and as such is an illegal practice. The reality in Cape Town is that about 90% of people who desperately want recovery have no excess funds or medical aid. That's 90% of people in this amazing country who want to get well and don't know how to go about it who are being told 'sorry, as you have no money we cannot help you'. The same 'agents' that do this are now supported by the big players, they pay their advertising bills and subsequently take client choice out of the equation. Once someone is committed to a place for Primary and Secondary treatment they are then told that the only sober living house or Tertiary is the one owned by the same person or people. This is of course bullshit and again choice and keeping the client well informed goes flying out the window. We inform our clients of their options, we don't just see them as big bags of money like all our competitors do. I've got staff at CapeRecovery who spend hours on the phone talking to people, supporting people and directing people to quality free or affordable treatments for absolutely no profit on our part. We treat every single person in exactly the same way. If they do have money or medical aid we will tell them how to get the best recovery treatment giving them the best possible chance of a prolonged recovery, for their budget. It's what sets us apart, we want to help the people and if we can get that person to their first AA or NA meeting and that is all we can do for them we will do that. The agents in the UK are worse, they charge the client sometimes 80% more than they should and essentially pack them off to exactly the same recovery community and quality of facilities that we use whilst pocketing the extra for doing absolutely fuck all. This needs to stop, people from the UK need to pay a fair price, I found recovery here and I have never looked back. I love Cape Town, the people, the recovery community, everything about it, with a passion. I want other people to experience that but I don't want them to be ripped off, diluting the experience in the process.
I have met some wonderful people and I'm sure I will continue to do so in my own recovery journey, I do want to work with the recovery community and dispel this myth that all the people in the rehab game are just after money. Sadly, I've not really done that here to be honest but at CapeRecovery we are part of the Cape Town Recovery Community, a wonderful group of people with inspiring stories and people who understand that there is hope despite being an addict, these are people like me. This is a group of people who share a common goal and it is not an exclusive group of people. Anyone can be a part of it and you don't need to spend your life savings to get there. I'll take you to a meeting myself if that is what's required of me. We are transparent and we have no hidden agenda. I'm going to be bold here, if you want real help then you can find CapeRecovery easily or follow any link on this blog to the UK site or South Africa site. I'm going to stop any advertising on Google so we are not at the top. People without money, Google 'Cape Town Rehab' or something like that, call anyone in the top two, tell them you have no money and see what happens. If you have money see where they want to put you, then get back to me and I can analyse the data and tell you my opinion from an impartial person without any real desire to sell, only to assist. South African visitors contact us.
U.K. and overseas visitors, contact us, it is really easy to break this monopoly if you are reading this, publicize it. If you are serious about the full recovery of you or a loved one you can literally save about 80% on UK prices and for a few thousand pounds we can cater and accommodate you for months and introduce you to the best recovery lifestyle and community in the world. Just book a flight, I will pick you up from the airport and do the rest for you. This is not even me bullshitting, this is the dream and this is now a reality, stop the crooks, this is CapeRecovery. This is alcoholfreeme.com!