Not all services are the same: How the drug and alcohol sector works with referral agencies.
Updated: Jul 27
How the drug and alcohol sector works The short answer is: YES! A lot of drug and alcohol centers have their own referral websites, using different company names. Without naming them, one large chain only advertises their own centers and does not “refer on” to other centers for commission. Other chains will refer on, for commission, not to other referral agencies, but will refer direct to a center. There are also standalone referral agencies. Beware of the glossy websites: They will purport to have centers all over the country, with many more offices to match: They do not. These companies will use P.O box addresses and serviced office addresses (none of which they will ever have visited) to make it look as if they have UK coverage: They do not. Some companies are not even based in the UK. The website claims to have centers, all over the UK and, in common with other referral agencies, use images of centers on their website. One company is based on a Greek island. While you will be speaking to someone in the UK, it is simply a service to take your details and pass them on: for commission. The drug and alcohol referral sector is not a regulated industry. Companies do not need to be registered with any governmental agency/professional body to be able to provide this service. Some will post logos of regulating authorities. Centers, themselves need to be regulated with the Care Quality Commission https://www.cqc.org.uk/ It is a legal requirement for registered centers to advertise their inspection reports within 21 days of the report being published. However, they are not required to have a website! In 2018, the sector hit the headlines https://www.engadget.com/2018-01-08-google-bans-uk-addiction-ads.html but, slowly, things returned to how they were before. The article makes for very interesting reading. The largest referral agency in the country, as published on company's house, generates millions of pounds, a year, in referral fees. While they advertise that they exist to provide advice, the core aim is merely to get someone into a center: for commission. Do not be fooled by thinking the person you are speaking to is in a nice plush office with plants and water fountains. 99% of the time they are working from home on their laptop in their kitchen. A lot of the referral agencies will advertise logos from healthcare insurance companies. Very few centers will accept insurance clients. Why? Because insurance companies negotiate very substantial discounts with centers. Furthermore, insurance companies take a very long time to pay centers meaning referral agencies wait a long time for payment: which will be significantly less than the normal rate they receive. When you speak to a referral agency do not be fooled into thinking you are talking to a “trained” expert: There is no recognized training/certification for such a role. The vast majority of those taking calls (working from home) are in recovery themselves. They will, ordinarily, have firsthand experience of what it is like to be in rehab but will not be subject matter experts. Remember: Their aim is solely to get you to part with your money. They will “upsell” a center and, 99% of the time, they have not been to the center, themselves. The staff are under pressure to convert enquiries and they may exert considerable pressure on callers to make a booking. While working for referral agencies (as well as for centers dealing with referral agencies) it is not uncommon to see wholly inappropriate referrals that will never be accepted. Referral agencies will call the client constantly (as well as by SMS) to try and get them in.