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Sober Living Homes to Receive Regulation in Arizona

sober-living-homes-regulationsSober living homes can be a positive step for many in recovery. They serve as a place where addicts can pay to live with others like themselves, while they gradually integrate back into everyday life. However, due to a lack of official regulation, there often ends up being a shortage care, which leads to addicts being turned away and an alarming number of relapses and overdoses. One state is taking steps to reverse the trend.

Sober Living Homes

A Small Town with a Big Problem

Though Prescott, Arizona, currently has a population of just 40,000, the small town is already home to more than 150 sober living homes, and that number is on the rise. Now, local residents and those in recovery alike are pushing for stricter rules on the management of these sober facilities. Arizona has taken a significant step in the right direction by responding with new legislation.

Focused on Profit, Not People

When facilities are more focused on profits than patients, it can create scenarios that lead to lapses in care. In the past, regulation for sober living homes in Arizona was not mandated. Unfortunately, without any formal form of oversight for those receiving care, Prescott saw a 70% increase in drug arrests in the past three years. And Yavapai, the county where Prescott is located, now has one of the highest rates of overdose-related deaths.

As a recent NPR article puts it: “Families looking for a safe place to send an addicted son or daughter are often offered a package deal: They pay out of pocket for the living expenses and insurance generally covers the cost of treatment.” But when insurance runs out or fails to pay, those seeking help often suffer the consequences.

The article says that was the case for Vincent Rienzie Jr., who flew across the county to stay in a recovery-affiliated group home in Prescott. After 60 days sober, Rienzie was abruptly kicked out of the group home when his insurance failed to pay on time. He ended up on the streets in Arizona, and had to leave the state to go back to his hometown in Long Island.

Despite Rienzie’s hardships, others face much tougher situations due to lack of regulation at sober living homes. Jill and Glen Martin told their son Joey’s story to NPR as well. It didn’t end with Joey coming home. He went to different rehab programs for three years to combat prescription drug addiction, before eventually ending up in a sober living facility. But that would be his last stop. At 22, Joey relapsed at the sober house, and died of an opioid overdose.

New Legislation

This past spring, Arizona moved to allow government oversight of sober group living homes to cut down on related drug crimes and other issues. The Arizona Legislature passed a law that regulates the homes. It includes supervision requirements and specific exit plans for patients upon leaving.

Some of the people who run the group homes, and who are therefore also raking in the profits, are fighting the legislation. But as NPR reports, Noel Campbell, the Arizona lawmaker who pushed through the legislation, says, “If they’re giving good treatment they should be open to what we are proposing.”

The goal of the law is to make the transition from rehab to sober living safe and effective, and to hold service providers accountable for their practices.

Beginning Your Recovery

Dependable help is available here at The Watershed Texas and The Watershed Florida, we offer long-term help through diverse and specialized programs, along with a passionate community who will work with you every step of the way. We’re here and waiting to take your call, 24 hours a day, at 1-800-439-5959.

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