Halfway Legal
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Halfway Legal, Part 1: The Danger of Illegitimate Halfway Houses

Recovery is a broad term for the process through which an individual regains their sobriety and learns the skills necessary to maintain abstinence from alcohol and drugs for the long-term. There’s a lot of variety in the form that recovery can take, allowing individuals to choose the programs, therapies, and treatments that best address their individual needs and the symptoms of addiction that they are experiencing.

Of the many different types of recovery programs, the Florida model of recovery has becoming increasingly popular in recent years due to certain areas in Florida, such as Delray Beach, having exceptionally high concentrations of rehabilitation facilities and sober living homes, offering a very specific treatment plan that’s made Florida a popular destination for individuals in need of recovery treatment.

Extended Treatment with the Florida Model of Recovery

The Florida model of recovery is unique because rehabs are often much like college campuses with residences and treatment areas often kept in separate buildings. Since there is such a high number of individuals who travel to Florida for treatment from across the country and even around the world, there are a number of sober or transitional living facilities, also commonly called halfway houses, where individuals who have completed their primary inpatient and residential treatment programs and who prefer a slower, safer transition back into society can live in dorm-style residences.

These accommodations offer more structure than they’d receive on their own but also much more independence than is allowed while in inpatient treatment. The success rate of treatment that consists only of a short stint at an inpatient program before returning home is a disappointing 10 percent; however, the Florida model—boasting an extended treatment period that follows inpatient with sober living facilities and an ever-present recovery community—and similar recovery modalities boast a success rate of about 60 percent.

Halfway houses, transitional and sober living facilities offer recovering addicts a period of time—as little as a few months or up to a year or more—in which they can continue to adjust to their newfound sobriety while retaining some of the structure that helped them to get sober in the first place. While there are such facilities elsewhere in the country and world, halfway houses have become especially common in Florida.

Although they may be an ideal opportunity for a number of recovering addicts, it’s important to remember that with such a high number of sober living facilities in a relatively limited area, there will naturally be some facilities that are better than others. However, in the case of halfway houses, it goes a little further than that; in areas like Delray Beach, Florida, where there are a number of halfway houses and sober living facilities in a small area, it’s not uncommon for individuals to open these facilities for the express purpose of making a profit off individuals who are in recovery. There have been a number of reports of such instances where sober living and transitional homes have been found to be scam homes, resulting in raids by law enforcement and even the FBI.

This two-part series is all about distinguishing between the illegitimate and legitimate transitional living facilities. In this first part, the reality of illegitimate halfway houses and sober living facilities will be discussed, highlighting the ways that these “scam homes” can be harmful to those in early recovery. The second part will conclude by highlighting features of legitimate and high-quality sober living facilities as well as explaining how they’re helpful and why those in recovery might benefit from living in a halfway house after treatment.

Scam Homes Common in Florida Due to Lack of Regulation

The most plausible explanation for the sheer numbers of halfway houses and sober living facilities in Delray Beach and throughout Florida is the very little regulation of these types of facilities. Since they don’t actually offer treatment, there are very few guidelines to consider when creating and running a halfway house. As a result, so far just about anyone who has an adequate location can open a halfway house, charging high rent to recovering addicts who are often thousands of miles away from home. Additionally, the lack of regulation by either local or federal policy has led to an increasing number of rather unscrupulous halfway houses, sometimes called scam houses or scam homes, that are dangerous for a number of reasons.

As a result, so far just about anyone who has an adequate location can open a halfway house, charging high rent to recovering addicts who are often thousands of miles away from home. Additionally, the lack of regulation by either local or federal policy has led to an increasing number of rather unscrupulous halfway houses, sometimes called scam houses or scam homes, that are dangerous for a number of reasons.

A number of these scam homes are operated by individuals who merely call the facility a residence for individuals in recovery to protect themselves from discrimination from the community since most wouldn’t give a residence facility for individuals in recovery a second look, assuming the facility more beneficial to the community than harmful. Meanwhile, they’re using the rent paid by residents in order to acquire more real estate and to pay the property’s mortgage.

In itself, using renters’ payments to pay a mortgage isn’t an expressly illegal practice, but many of these facilities don’t monitor the residents to ensure their ongoing sobriety like a halfway house is supposed to do, allowing them to use drugs while in residence in the facility so long as they continue to pay their rent. This can be a dangerous situation for individuals living in these scam homes while intending to maintain their sobriety as it’s likely the halfway home in which they live—intended to be an alcohol and drug-free residential facility where residents can transition from treatment back into the community—will be just as dangerous, or more, than they would be at home.

Another common practice of scam homes is their tendency to abruptly evict tenants for obscure rules. The operators of these facilities often charge multiple months on rent upfront in order to secure a room and oftentimes a non-refundable security deposit.

Over the course of an individual’s first month, they’ll learn that they’ve broken some obscure, unknown rule and get evicted, losing the money they’d paid upfront and effectively leaving these newly recovered individuals homeless, penniless, and jobless while often also being far away from home. By the next day, the evicted tenant’s room is often filled by a new tenant, who is also required to pay several months of rent in advance as well as a security deposit, allowing scam home operators to make large amounts of money by preying on recovering addicts who have few options in terms of post-treatment residence.

Call Drug Treatment Center Finder to Begin Your Recovery Today

The next installment of “Halfway Legal” will discuss the feature of legitimate sober living facilities and halfway houses as well as how these facilities are beneficial to those in recovery. If you or someone you love is suffering from a substance abuse disorder, Drug Treatment Center Finder is here to help. Our recovery specialists have matched countless addicts to the programs that best meet their needs. Don’t wait—call us now so we can help you start your recovery today.

  1. How does one report a scam house? As a recovering addict, it is the worst feeling in the world when finally surrendering and seeking help, and then finding yourself ending up in one of these places. My insurance is drained from the owner I trusted in, by using illegal practices to get as much money possible out of me and other clients. Not to mention bills for the house were not being paid, the house lacked a working dryer, sheets, blankets, dressers, silverware, a TV – because the owner had plans to use the money to buy property in another country. I came in, overlooking the grass as high as the windows, and the poor condition of the inside of the house, because all I needed was a sober environment, and he couldn’t even provide that. Everyone was high and it didn’t matter to him, as long as he was getting paid… makes me sick to my stomach.

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