Deaths from opioid overdoses in the U.S. continue to rise, and on Sunday night, John Oliver turned his attention to the clinics and facilities that offer treatment for people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. While there were plenty of jokes about C-3PO’s urine, the futility of petting horses, and how terrible it is to live in Florida, the Last Week Tonight host came away with a sobering conclusion: The rehabilitation industry is dangerously underregulated.
Oliver explained that in Florida (and other states, like California) opening a rehab center is surprisingly easy, and the lack of oversight means that a patient can wind up paying tens of thousands of dollars for “treatments” that aren’t based on any empirical data. One of these is equine therapy. “Horses can go straight to hell,” said Oliver, in an aside. “Oh, sure, you could ride one somewhere, or you could just drive a car, which is like a horse, except it can play music and it doesn’t constantly shit everywhere.”
That might sound kind of funny, because, you know, horses, but in practice, even something as innocuous-seeming as equine therapy can be far more sinister, because there’s no reliable information out there about its success rate. Even worse, rehab facilities can actually benefit from a patient’s relapse and readmission, a cycle nicknamed “The Florida Shuffle.” Much like a well-executed PSA, Oliver’s segment abruptly turns serious at the end, noting that this industry is literally a matter of life and death, and pointing viewers toward a more trustworthy resource for addiction medicine (and one with a name that doesn’t sound like a “perfume … worn exclusively by widows”): the American Board of Preventative Medicine.