Chris Yiannakou, and business associate Fenella Price, have spearheaded NACAR – the National Agency for Clinic Addiction Referrals – to standardise the addictions industry.
It’s in response to a recent Sunday Times investigation which found Google were charging referral agencies as much as £200 each time someone accessed their site via an advertised link on the search page.
Brokers, who labelled themselves free advice helplines, earnt thousands of pounds by referring callers to private rehab clinics.
In light of the research, the internet giant has stripped its UK platforms of all advertisements related to the addiction industry.
Mr Yiannakou, founded Serenity Healthcare rehab clinics to help those seeking treatment for drugs and alcohol, after overcoming his own 20-year addiction to booze.
With some “unethical” referral agencies charging fees of up to 50%, the newly-founded NACAR aims to forward a motion to enable a lower fixed price across the board for referrals to prevent the current system from being further abused.
The new committee, which will consist of both rehab clinics and referral agencies, also seeks to put an end to blanket emails – a method used by “unscrupulous” referral agencies, whereby when vulnerable people fill in an online form or call a clinic, emails are sent out to hundreds of clinics in the hope that one will take on the client and coin a large fee in doing so.
Mr Yiannakou, who has never used paid adverts to profit from his clients, said: “If a client goes into a clinic directly, they could pay around £2,000 for detox substance recovery right through to full recovery rehabilitation, which costs up to £20,000, for a four week stay. That allows money to be spent on top health care with cash directly benefitting the clinic and not the referral agency.”
His associate, Ms Price, who runs SB Referral Agency, added: “Compare these typical costs for recovery with the £160,000 that we estimate, the government will spend on each addict over their lifetime on things like benefits, hospitalisations and drugs such as methadone. It makes complete sense to ensure they are getting appropriate treatment in an affordable way with the ethical companies out there providing a great service.
“We were saddened to hear that Google has been profiting from the most vulnerable in our society and want to make it clear that this is not standard practice across the board. We do not make money out of people seeking help for their addictions, but instead look to support them to full recovery.”
Mr Yiannakou added that his company offers the cheapest service in the UK because they recognise that those who need support, are not always financially able.
“There are some things more important than profit – maintaining the public’s health is one of them,” he concluded.
• Serenity Health clinics offer detox programmes and therapeutic treatment programmes that are approved by the Care Quality Commission, the independent regulator of all health and social care services in England
• Its multi-disciplinary staff treat individuals with co-occurring process addictions as well as alcohol and drugs, such as sex, co-dependency, trauma and gambling
• Care plans, which include detox programmes, are tailored to individuals by a team of medical experts