CHARLOTTE — A Charlotte mother is sharing the story of her daughter’s battle with drugs, hoping it will help expose the dangers of patient brokering. It’s a problem Channel 9 anchor Allison Latos has spent months investigating.
People who are struggling with drug addiction are being lured to shady treatment centers where they don’t get the help they need to stay clean. It’s called patient brokering, and it’s a serious problem happening in North Carolina, as well as other states.
Three years ago, Carey West’s mother made a discovery that turned her world upside-down.
“I found syringes,” she said.
She asked Carey if she was using heroin.
“She started crying and said, ‘Yeah.’”
Desperate to help her daughter, the mother searched online for treatment facilities and found a place in Florida that promised to help. The facility even offered to immediately arrange a plane ticket.
“They called and called and called and called,” she told Channel 9. “They reeled her in, reeled me in.”
According to her mother, Carey spent $25,000 from an inheritance for a 30-day stay at the facility. When she returned home to Charlotte, her mother hoped it was the beginning of better days.
That afternoon, Carey went out to run errands. It was the last time her mother would see her alive.
“I saw car lights coming down the road and my phone rang. It was my son saying, ‘You need to come to the front door,’” she said.
Two detectives were at their house. They told her that Carey had overdosed on heroin and fentanyl in a Charlotte motel.
Carey’s mother said her daughter had a beautiful soul.
“I call her my wildflower,” she said.
Now, she hopes something will be done to help prevent this from happening to other families.
“I had sent her down there to prevent this from happening,” she said. “Why didn’t they tell me that was such a dangerous time?”
‘People are preying on these folks’
North Carolina Sen. Jim Burgin said patient brokering is a growing problem in the state.
“People are preying on these folks who are already dependent on drugs,” Burgin said. “They’re using it as a way to make money, and they’re getting these folks in a spiraling system and all it does is make their lives more miserable.”
Burgin is sponsoring Senate Bill 408 to make patient brokering a felony. The legislation is now before a state House committee.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein is also getting involved in the push to stop patient brokering. He recently met with police and legitimate facilities in Asheville on how to identify shady businesses.
There are ways to check treatment facilities. If you or someone you know needs help choosing an appropriate treatment provider, click here for information from the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers.
(WATCH: 9 Investigates the dangers of patient brokering and what’s being done to stop it)
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