Mikaya Feucht first started taking prescription opioids when she was just 15 years old.
According to the Daily Mail, Feucht’s first experience with prescription drugs was after she had an operation to remove a cyst from her lower back. As her mom, Michelle Curran, explained, she was prescribed Vicodin and Percocet to help with the pain during her recovery.
A year later, when Feucht was 16, she came in contact with prescription drugs again, this time after she pulled a tendon in her foot.
Curran remembers being shocked at how doctors would “pass these pain pills out like they’re nothing.”
At 17 and 19 years old, Feucht gave birth to two little boys. The birthing process caused the pain from her cyst-removal surgery to flare up.
And when the pain became so intense that it hurt to simply sit down, the 21-year-old turned to pain pills once again. Curran told the Daily Mail:
“She started with pills because pain pills would take that pain away. It just got worse and worse.'”
By her early 20s, her daughter’s addiction was no longer a secret and Curran knew it was imperative to get Feucht the help she needed. In January 2015, Feucht left her mom and children behind in Ohio to do just that at a rehabilitation center in Florida.
As the Daily Mail reported, Curran picked the rehab center because the online advertisement “made it seem top notch.” Following an inquiry, the facility requested Feucht’s insurance information and eventually booked a flight for her, which — as Curran later learned — is illegal.
Feucht was doing “well for several months,” and would often call her mom with updates on her recovery. Following her first stint, Feucht attempted to move back to Ohio to begin her life again.
Regrettably, she relapsed and returned to Florida to give the same facility another try, but something wasn’t right the second and third time she checked into the Boynton Beach, Florida, treatment center.
As Curran suggested, Feucht claimed to have been raped by one of the facility’s technicians, and that despite patients being there to get sober, drugs were readily available to them, thanks to the drug dealers who lived in the neighborhood.
Sadly, what neither Curran or Feucht knew was that Florida was dealing with an epidemic called “body-snatching,” or “patient brokering.”
According to the Palm Beach Post, patient brokering is when a “junkie hunter” offers a recovering addict “free housing, transportation, maybe a Publix gift card, a cell phone, gym membership, an Xbox, cold cash, or promises the addict can keep using drugs if they transfer out of their facility to another.”
As the Palm Beach Post continued to report:
“Each recovering addict with a health insurance policy they can nab for a sober home can net these so-called body brokers up to $500.
It’s highly illegal. And it is Palm Beach County’s $1 billion recovery industry’s dirty little secret, an infected wound on a growing community of addicts struggling to heal.”
Palm Beach County has made 34 arrests in the past year as a result of “patient brokering,” and it’s responsible for the death of many addicts, including Feucht’s.
After leaving the Boynton Beach treatment center for a “sober living facility,” Feucht got back on track for about a month. However, when she relapsed again, she attended a support group meeting where she met the “body snatcher” who convinced her to leave the facility for a “sober house” called “Reflections.”
“Reflections” was owned by a man named Kenny Chatman.
Chatman allegedly forced Feucht to do heroin in front of him a handful of times so that he could watch her overdose. He was also accused of “sexually exploiting” some of his patients.
It took Curran roughly five months to learn something wasn’t right, but by the time Feucht asked her mom to bring her home, it was too late. Feucht died in a hotel room on July 30, 2016, after she and her boyfriend were kicked out of the “sober house” after getting high.
After Feucht’s death in July of 2016, Chatman was eventually arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. He was sentenced to 27 years in prison.
Curran told the Daily Mail that she is coming forward with her daughter’s story so that other parents looking to get their child help know of the dangers that come with seeking help at some treatment centers.
However, like Florida State Attorney Dave Aronberg said, there are good facilities out there that do want to help addicts, but it’s imperative for people to avoid getting sucked in by the “perks” the wrong facilities will offer you.
Curran has since legally adopted her grandchildren as her own.