Florida Halfway Houses to Be Regulated

The development of an addiction involves a rather complete transformation with the individual experiencing a deterioration of physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual health. However, addiction doesn’t develop overnight. Becoming an addict is a confluence of an individual’s choices and behaviors over a period of time. Before becoming an addict, an individual must first be an occasional substance abuser. After developing an affinity for recreational intoxication, the individual will begin escalating the frequency and dosage of his or her substance abuse.

Due to being constantly bombarded by harmful substances, one’s body begins to accommodate the ever-present alcohol or drugs, which results in the individual’s body coming to depend on those substances for even basic, natural functions. At this point, the substance abuser has become physically dependent on the substance of his or her abuse and will experience withdrawal symptoms after only a short period of time without alcohol or drugs.

Fortunately, becoming an addict is not the end-all-be-all that it was once thought to be. Those who have become physically and/or psychologically dependent on a mind-altering substances have numerous resources available that will allow them to regain their health and independence. However, each addict’s needs are different from those of any other addict, which means that the optimal program or treatments for one person may not be the best choice for others.

Anyone who’s in need of addiction treatment must find the right program for him or her, and then personalize that program’s curricula to include the treatments that best address his or her needs. Additionally, the individual must create a treatment plan that will include subsequent components of the recovery process. This can mean enrolling in an outpatient program after completing an inpatient program, or spending a period of time in a transitional living facility or halfway house.

A halfway house or transitional living facility is a group home meant specifically for those in recovery. After completing an inpatient program, many individuals will feel the need to complete some form of intermediate treatment prior to returning home. Halfway houses are an optimal solution because they allow individuals to adjust to being more responsible and accountable for maintaining their sobriety while continuing to benefit from a more structured living situation than they would have at home.

The Recovery Capital of the World Has a Major Drawback

The state of Florida is widely known for having an extensive recovery community, which is largely due to the state being the home of an extensive selection of addiction treatment facilities and inpatient rehabs. In fact, there are so many alcohol and drug rehabs in Florida that the state is often referred to as the “recovery capital of the world” or as an “oasis of sobriety.

People from all over the country — and even the world — travel to Florida to take advantage of its selection of luxurious rehabs and temperate, vacation-like climate. However, the wide variety of high-end treatment facilities in Florida has a hidden catch, which is the tendency for some of the recovery facilities in Florida to be illegitimate. For every handful of rehabs that offer evidence-based treatments led by professionals, there is unfortunately one or two facilities that are run by individuals with no treatment experience or knowledge and who want only to make money by taking advantage of vulnerable addicts.

Why Unregulated Florida Halfway Houses Pose a Problem

Many of Florida’s halfway houses and transitional living facilities are high in quality and are truly trying to help individuals adjust to living life free from substance abuse. Although most of these facilities impose somewhat strict rules, the rules are intended to keep recovering addicts safe and to allow them to adjust to their independence without it getting them into trouble. However, there are still those few who aren’t actually concerned with helping. As is the case with many aspects of life, a few bad apples can spoil the bunch.

Time and again, news and media outlets throughout Florida report deceitful activities committed by individuals running illegitimate halfway houses. In some instances, the profiteers running the transitional housing try to tempt residents to relapse so that they can be evicted without getting a refund for the deposit and rent they’ve paid; similarly, they might suddenly change or implement new rules that result in residents getting evicted. There have even been a number of raids conducted by the FBI to shut down these fraudulent halfway houses, in which many have been found to have committed insurance fraud by overcharging insurance companies for services they don’t actually provide.

Speaking of which, the lack of necessary services is another reason why these scam houses are bad news. A halfway house is supposed to help individuals to become more independent and self-sufficient while encouraging them to participate in forms of continued treatment or services, including outpatient programs and local twelve-step meetings. High-quality halfway houses also usually offer things like career and financial counseling to help recovering addicts prepare for the job market and for having to sustain themselves. However, fraudulent halfway houses lack such features and are little more than a person renting out a couch in their private home for way too much rent.

New Bill Means Government Oversight of Florida Transitional Living

The good news is that these scam houses’ days are numbered. A bill referred to as HB 21 — also known as Hager’s Bill after Florida House Rep. Bill Hager who filed the bill — is intended to ensure the safety and authenticity of halfway houses and similar facilities for any individuals who may need them. The bill would work by allowing transitional and halfway housing facilities to become certified by a state certification board; although certification would be voluntary rather than enforced, HB 21 will prohibit any addiction treatment centers and rehabs from referring patients to transitional housing facilities that don’t hold this certification. This would significantly reduce the number of fraudulent facilities that would be in operation since it’s believed that the majority of recovering addicts move into halfway housing to which they’ve been referred by their treatment providers.

On April 24, 2015, HB 21 was passed 39-0 in a vote by the Florida Senate. Upon the bill being signed into law by the governor, the first step toward implementation was for the Florida Department of Children and Families to recruit board members and create the voluntary certification program for so-called “recovery residence administrators.” By the current timeline, the prohibition for any treatment centers to make referrals to uncertified transitional living facilities is scheduled to take effect by July 2016.

Everything You Need to Beat Your Addiction Is One Phone Call Away

The passing of HB 21 is good news for the recovery community as it provides more security to a rather vulnerable population that has been victimized by profiteering. However, the first step toward recovery is an effective addiction treatment program. If you or someone you love would benefit from a free consultation and assessment, call Drug Treatment Center Finder at 1-855-619-8070. Our recovery specialists are available day and night, ready and able to match anyone to the treatment program that best addresses his or her needs.

Staff Writer :