John Oliver Takes on the Rehab Industry in Latest Last Week Tonight

The word "rehab," more or less, means nothing

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John Oliver Takes on the Rehab Industry in Latest <i>Last Week Tonight</i>

In Sunday night’s episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver shined a light on the scrupulous and downright nefarious nature of the rehab and addiction recovery industry. He also made his stance on horses quite clear: If it is equine in even the most tertiary sense, Oliver hates it—especially Patches the horse. Yet, for every horse joke or allusion to Tony the Tiger meeting his fate between the sights of a poacher’s rifle, Oliver homed in his laser-like, politically researched comedy in a near-takedown of the modern rehab industry and its failings.

Addiction, in both the substance and bodily sense, is a complex issue with no easy fixes or answers, and bettering one’s self from the depths of addiction is usually a lifelong process of day-by-day battles for personal betterment. Yet, rehabilitation clinics and outpatient/inpatient facilities market themselves as the end-all, be-all for those who struggle with addiction. Rehab in the U.S. is a $35 billion-dollar industry with over 14,000 centers across the United States. Oliver highlights this to point out that, despite the proliferation of rehab centers, the definition of what a rehab center is and what it entails is disconcertingly foggy. Almost anyone can start a rehab center, create whatever rehabilitation process they want, and then, more or less, prey on people’s insurance money. Most rehab centers, as Oliver explains, get their success rates from internally gathered statistics—this usually means the center calls “healed’ patients and inquires as to their current well-being. As bad as addiction may be, nothing is worse than a phone call with another corporeal, breathing human being and, thus, most patients just lie and say that they are fine. This and other fallacies/hidden agendas lead to what has been coined “The Florida Shuffle,” which is not having sex with your neighbor’s alligator, as Oliver is surprised to find out, but rather the process of entry, relapse and reentry into rehabilitation facilities until the patient is dead in both the literal and financial sense.

This week’s main segment was rather light on standout humor, “He looks like Matt Lauer fucked a pair of Oakley’s Sunglasses” aside, and more focused on the sociopolitical ramifications of the laissez-faire nature of the rehabilitation industry. It is as shocking as it is unsurprising, but Oliver is doing important work in shedding what light he can on it.

For the segment itself, in its entirety, check out the video below.

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