9 episodes

In 1960s California, a cult leader mesmerized America by claiming to have discovered the cure for heroin addiction. His rehab ran on punishment and profits, putting participants to work and generating millions from their free labor. A new system of rehab was born. Over the decades the model would be hailed by an American president and endorsed by judges across the country. Today these rehabs are flourishing by turning people desperate for treatment into an unpaid labor force. As the opioid epidemic rages on, Reveal uncovers tens of thousands of people each year trapped in the gears of this rehab machine.

Reveal Presents: American Rehab The Center for Investigative Reporting

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.4 • 11 Ratings

In 1960s California, a cult leader mesmerized America by claiming to have discovered the cure for heroin addiction. His rehab ran on punishment and profits, putting participants to work and generating millions from their free labor. A new system of rehab was born. Over the decades the model would be hailed by an American president and endorsed by judges across the country. Today these rehabs are flourishing by turning people desperate for treatment into an unpaid labor force. As the opioid epidemic rages on, Reveal uncovers tens of thousands of people each year trapped in the gears of this rehab machine.

    American Rehab Chapter 1: A Desperate Call

    American Rehab Chapter 1: A Desperate Call

    Penny Rawlings is relieved to finally get her brother into rehab at a place called Cenikor. She doesn’t realize that getting him out of treatment is going to be the bigger problem. 

    This is the first chapter in Reveal’s American Rehab series, exposing how a treatment for drug addiction has turned tens of thousands of people into an unpaid shadow workforce.

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    • 21 min
    American Rehab Chapter 2: Miracle On the Beach

    American Rehab Chapter 2: Miracle On the Beach

    Cenikor’s bizarre form of rehab has its roots in Synanon: a revolutionary 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. The program became a phenomenon and quickly spread across the country. But soon, Dederich wanted to profit off its success, and this “miracle” began to change.  


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    • 54 min
    American Rehab Chapter 3: A Venomous Snake

    American Rehab Chapter 3: A Venomous Snake

    After amassing a small fortune, Synanon’s megalomaniac leader turns the revolutionary rehab into a violent cult, with mass sterilization, a paramilitary group and a rattlesnake in a mailbox. 


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    • 1 hr
    American Rehab Chapter 4: Cowboy Conman

    American Rehab Chapter 4: Cowboy Conman

    He’s a liar, a killer and a wannabe country music singer. Luke Austin finds Synanon in prison and borrows from its philosophy to create Cenikor. But graft and violence nearly destroy it.



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    • 51 min
    American Rehab Chapter 5: Reagan with the Snap

    American Rehab Chapter 5: Reagan with the Snap

    Cenikor rises from the ashes, thanks to the inventor of NFL football pads, the war on drugs and the endorsement of an American president.


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    • 33 min
    American Rehab Chapter 6: The White Vans

    American Rehab Chapter 6: The White Vans

    Before sunrise, a line of passenger vans heads to job sites across Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They carry squads of unpaid laborers. 

    The drug rehab Cenikor didn't want to show us where they were sending participants to work. So Reveal reporters Shoshana Walter and Laura Starecheski followed the vans to find out. 


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    • 23 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
11 Ratings

11 Ratings

RuzhaSi ,

Great podcast

I can’t believe I haven’t heard of this podcast before. Great reporting, well researched and super interesting. Can’t recommend enough!!

CPM2723 ,

Fantastic!

This is a must listen! Excellent. Highly recommend!!!

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