Reveal’s American Rehab exposes how a treatment for drug addiction has turned tens of thousands of people into an unpaid shadow workforce.
In Episode 1, we meet Penny Rawlings, who is relieved to get her brother into drug rehab at a place called Cenikor. She doesn’t realize that getting him out of treatment is going to be the bigger problem.
Cenikor’s model has its roots in Synanon: a revolutionary, first-of-its-kind rehab that started in the 1950s on a California beach. Its charismatic leader, Charles Dederich, mesmerized the nation by claiming to have developed a cure for drug addiction. But as it spread across the country, Dederich wanted the rehab to turn into something else: a business.