AAC – American Addiction Centers

time icon 8 min read update icon Sept. 20, 2019
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AAC offers individualized treatment programs based on innovation, compassion, and research.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a national provider of inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment services that address drug and alcohol addiction, plus any co-occurring mental/behavioral health issues. AAC Holdings, Inc., is a Tennessee-based company that went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2015 in order to raise $75 million to expand its rehabilitation treatment reach.

Founded in 2012 by Michael Cartwright, a recovering drug addict, and alcoholic, AAC brings innovative approaches – including genetics – to its comprehensive treatment of about 5,000 patients each year. Its staff members include expert drug addiction specialists, seasoned physicians, and caring therapists. Some 50 percent of direct patient-care staff are in recovery themselves, so they understand what it means to battle addiction and to thrive in recovery.  

Its clinical assessments, medically supervised detox, residential rehabilitation and aftercare are offered in 16 facilities, some with satellite operations, that cover nine states: California, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Texas.    

AAC is a very aggressive online marketer through sites such as Rehabs.com, Recovery.org, DrugAbuse.com, and Alcohol.org. Some sites provide extensive information on addictions and others provide large directories of rehab facilities. AAC claims all calls go to qualified in-company representatives who will refer callers to other providers more aligned with a caller’s needs, if appropriate. It does not participate in patient brokering or any referral-fee arrangements.

Grandfolk Scoring
Ease of enrollment 10/10
Customer support 8/10
Treatment method 9/10
Types of facility/program 9/10
States covered 9/10
Number of facilities 9/10
Certifications 7/10
Payment 7/10
Detox 10/10
Seniors 8/10
Cost 8/10
Ease of enrollment
Ways you can enroll
Online chat, online insurance-verification form and phone 24/7
Customer support
Is access easy?
Phone 24/7
Treatment method
12-step, medication and/or psychosocial therapy?
12-step, medication (with genetic input) and psychosocial therapy as needed
Types of facility/program
Facilities/programs offered?
Detox facilities, residential rehabilitation programs, partial hospitalization treatment options, intensive outpatient programs and sober living communities
States covered
Where located?
CA, FL, LA, MA, MS, NV, NJ, RI and TX
Number of facilities
How large is the chain?
16, plus satellites
Who certifies them?
The Joint Commission and/or CARF, by facility
What are payment options?
Insurance and private pay
Detox service available?
Special senior programs?
What is the cost of the service?
Depends on level of care needed and location
Age Score:
50-64 Years
65-74 Years
75-84 Years

AAC does not market senior programs as such. However, as we age, we may have more co-occurrences of medical conditions which AAC’s facilities are equipped to care for. The company has grown by acquiring facilities from different groups, so it offers diversity in how its facilities are structured and how it is likely to be able to meet age-related needs during treatment.

AAC’s management believes that there is a biological component to addictions and uses genetics to define the pharmacological part of treatment. This could be particularly valuable to an older patient who feels time is a luxury and wants a more targeted, less uncomfortable path to recovery. For a senior or a senior’s family seeking information on addictions and different treatments, AAC’s various websites are a wealth of information. However, they are multi-layered and not so easy to navigate.

Health Score:
Great Health
Good Health
Fair Health
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Many of AAC’s facilities are equipped to care for medically compromised patients. Patients that have chronic or acute medical conditions (COPD, hypertension, diabetes, seizures, etc.), while considered on a case-by-case basis, are usually accepted.

Many units have ADA-compliant, handicap rooms available and the entire facility is wheelchair-accessible. Facilities do have wheelchairs available for emergencies, but non-ambulatory patients should have their own devices to get around.


  • AAC is very progressive in its treatment of substance abuse, including employing genetic testing to identify the best medication for each patient.
  • A full continuum of care – during and after programs -- is available to support a patient’s recovery.
  • AAC offers a guarantee of sobriety to anyone who has completed a continuous 90-day program, or it will provide a free 30 days of treatment.
  • AAC has participated in efforts by a few industry players to lobby Congress to counter the many unethical practices in the industry and to establish enforceable standards of care for this under-regulated industry.
  • Facilities have counselor-to-patient ratios as low as 1:5 for optimal individualized patient care; many locations are LGBTQI welcoming, with ASL (signing) and bilingual staff.


  • Insurance is accepted, but may not cover the entirety of the costs. (When AAC went public in 2015, it cited a 30-day AA-based treatment plan as costing $15,000-$26,000.)
  • Compared with the 60% of facilities that use sliding-fee scales, AAC does not.
  • AAC’s website is multi-layered, so it is difficult to know if one has accessed all of its valuable information.
  • AAC appears not to be certified by LegitScript as its logo is not on the AAC website.
  • The company has been sued over fraud, exploitation, neglect and wrongful death in the past.

Bottom Line:

The founder of this company, Michael Cartwright, is not only paying forward his gratitude for being in recovery but is also using the financial markets to help him build a growing network of rehab facilities to reach more people. To date, there are 16 facilities of different types, several of which have satellites to expand their reach. In addition to the more traditional 12-step model, ACC’s treatment centers often use ‘pharmacogenetics,’ where one’s genetic makeup helps determine what medications would be most effective in support of the behavioral therapy aspects of the program.

AAC also uses technology aggressively in its marketing, most of which is online, based on where it says most people go first when looking for help with their addiction. Following complaints regarding online marketing practices in the addiction treatment industry, AAC has reinforced the breadth and quality of information on its websites on addictions, types of treatment and facility directories. It has also been proactive in pressuring Congress to create enforceable standards of care in an industry that severely lacks regulation.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How all-inclusive are the services provided? AAC’s philosophy is that addiction, whether to alcohol, prescription drugs, illicit drugs or over-the-counter drugs, is a disease which requires treatment. While counseling and aftercare support can deal with a patient’s various mental and emotional hurdles, medication has a significant role to play in breaking the physical chains of dependency that are created by the abuse.

The company’s integrated treatment approach allows its expert clinicians to treat many secondary and co-occurring mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and bipolar disorder.

In addition to the traditional treatment protocols for clinical assessments, medically supervised detox, residential rehabilitation, and aftercare, AAC has access to its cutting-edge Addiction Labs of America that helps quickly define specialized treatment plans for individual patients based on their personal genetic codes.

What types of facilities are available? In its different locations, AAC can offer medical detox, intensive inpatient treatment, residential treatment, partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient programs, outpatient care, and recovery residence.

Is any financing available? A treatment consultant will do a ‘pre-admission’ assessment over the phone which determines which treatment programs and services are covered by the patient’s insurance policy and defines all related costs. If there is a shortfall, AAC works with an outside broker, Prosper Healthcare Lending, to help the family obtain a personal loan, if needed. AAC does not work with a sliding-fee scale.

More Information:

Product Details

Overview: AAC can provide a medical detox with 24/7 monitoring, if needed. The program, tailored to the individual, varies in length based on the specific needs as well as their insurance. Patients have access to a full spectrum of treatments and modalities. They might participate in individual and group therapy as well as family sessions, all utilizing methods like behavior therapies (CBT and DBT) and Reality Therapy. Classes are also available on coping skills, stress management, daily physical fitness and nutrition counseling.

Package Details: Programs are designed individually based on a full assessment of a patient’s physical, medical and psychological needs.

Other Services: None

Additional Company Details

Contract Details:  The process from the initiating phone call to determining insurance coverage and admitting a patient to an AAC facility takes 24-48 hours. Once admitted, all relevant financial documents and admission paperwork are explained and signed. That establishes the contractual obligation on the part of the patient and/or guardian or guarantor.

Warranty: AAC is so confident in the effectiveness of its program that any patient who completes 90 consecutive days of treatment is guaranteed to stay clean and sober, or that person can return for a free 30 days of treatment.

Accreditations:  All AAC facilities are accredited by CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) and/or by The Joint Commission. AAC has been accredited with the BBB since 2017 and holds an A+ rating. While supportive of LegitScript’s efforts, it does not appear to be certified by that organization (no logo on AAC’s website).  

Company Details: AAC, a public company, states that its mission is to provide quality, compassionate, and innovative care to adults struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders so they can achieve recovery and optimal wellness of the mind, body and spirit. AAC has grown through acquisition, so has a variety of facilities and programs. For example, in New England, it has rehabilitation centers as hubs with multiple outpatient satellites. Near Dallas, it offers a luxury setting and holistic approach in what was a Neiman Marcus spa. Recovery First Fort Lauderdale East (RFFLE) offers a program for America’s first responders, plus its Veteran’s Choice Program (VCP) developed with the Department of Veterans Affairs.


American Addiction Centers

200 Powell Place
Brentwood, TN 37027

Phone: 888-987-1784

Website: https://www.americanaddictioncenters.com

Sharon O'Day - Senior Advisor

Sharon O’Day fixes financial lives. She is a tell-it-like-it-is money expert with a successful career in global finance, plus an MBA from the Wharton School. Today she specializes in getting entrepreneurial women over 50 back on their game so they can have more money, less stress and more joy. With her “Over Fifty and Financially Free” strategies, they take actions that lead to their ultimate goal: financial peace of mind.