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Not All Rehab is Equal

Homeowners on Riviera Drive in Boynton Beach have nicknamed their street “Rehab Drive.”  Three of the fourteen homes on the street are sober homes—halfway homes where newly sober addicts live in a supposedly drug/alcohol free environment to help them in their recovery.  Residents there complain about finding needles on the street, and seeing lights from police vehicles and ambulances visiting these sober homes.  Since sober homes are unregulated, more and more are popping up around Palm Beach.  While some highly supervised homes are successful and blend into neighborhoods, others like the ones on Rehab Drive can’t boast the same success stories.  One thing is clear, not all rehab is equal.  

What are Sober Homes?

Sober homes are halfway houses where newly sober addicts can live in a safe environment before returning to regular life.  They live in a home together with other sober addicts as an in between step in their recovery.  After receiving inpatient rehab treatment, many addicts choose to live in a sober home as a transition.  This is meant to be a support bridge between treatment and the real world.  Many of these sober homes are less expensive than inpatient treatment and offer peer to peer support and other services. They are meant to provide more structure and support than one would receive at home. Aspects that many sober homes have in common are:

  • Commit to Living Drug/Alcohol Free. Residents at sober homes must commit to abstinence from drugs and alcohol.  A supervisor is present in the home to ensure that it remains drug and alcohol free.

  • Random Drug Tests. Residents agree to having random drug tests to ensure that they are abstaining from drugs.  

  • Attend Recovery Meetings. Residents agree to attend 12 step or other recovery meetings.  

  • Curfew. Residents agree to a curfew and must abide by it.  

  • Work. Residents must have a job and regularly attend work.  

  • Chores. Residents will have chores and must complete them.  

Sober Home Horror Stories

Horror stories of bad sober homes are rampant.  Stories like those of rehab drive tell about finding needles, constant visits from police or medical personnel, and seeing people carried away in ambulances from overdoses.  People like those on rehab drive worry about letting their children play along the street and make sure to always lock their doors.  These tales give sober homes a bad name and make many want to fight against them.  However, these homes are protected by law, and since addiction is considered a disease and is protected by federal disability laws, efforts at regulating them have been unsuccessful.  

Addiction Relapse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that relapse for highly addictive drugs like heroin is 60%.  According to the 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary, heroin deaths have increased 244% since 2007.  Relapse from addiction is a very serious worry.  It is certainly one of the main reasons that sober homes exist, in an attempt to create a safer environment for addicts to recover.  Unfortunately many people come to the sober homes for help, but then in some cases are evicted if relapse occurs or insurance payments run out.  Sadly, these people have come for help, and don’t get it.  

Sober Home Successes

On the flip side, there are many homes that operate successfully without disrupting the neighborhood. In theory, sober homes should have less drug use because the residents there have made a commitment, endure drug testing and are supervised.  Regulation has been unsuccessful because of federal laws protecting against discrimination, and in reality, addicts have every right to a home where they can live and recover.  The stigma created by bad sober homes gives quality homes a bad rap.  

Regulating Sober Homes

Despite attempts, regulation of sober homes has been unsuccessful.  However, many homes in Florida have chosen to register with Florida Association of Recovery Residences (FARR).  Because of the backlash against sober homes, many have realized that it is up to the industry to increase confidence in these operations and have willingly extended the effort to do so.  

Unfortunately, since the July 2016 legislation was enacted, there are only 50 houses that comply with the new state legislation. You can check out the list of certified homes based on regulations passed in July 2016.  

Choosing the Right Sober Home

Unfortunate or not, the reality is, not every sober home is equal.  Some do not provide the appropriate supervision or rehab opportunities that quality sober homes do.  This can make finding and choosing the right sober home more difficult.  In order to choose the right home for you, you may want to:

  • Talk to Your Doctor/Therapist. Doctors and therapists with experience in the industry will know from working with other patients about reputable sober homes and can make a recommendation.

  • Talk to Peers. Ask around at your next 12 step or other recovery meeting.  Find out which sober homes have helped your peers find success.  If there have been success stories or horror stories, a great way to find out is by word of mouth.  Ask around and make sure the place you will stay is someplace that will help you recover and not the other way around.

  • Check Reviews. The internet is a great place to find out more about any industry.  Look up the home on the better business bureau, or google it to see what you find.  Always read the reviews thoroughly and make your own decisions about what you find.  

Get the Help You Need

Addiction recovery is a lifelong process.  Sober homes can be a step in your recovery if you choose one carefully.  If you struggle with addiction, get your journey to recovery started today at Origins of Hope treatment center for women.  Our treatment facility is highly structured to help the women in our care successfully overcome addiction.  We are proud to have helped many women in their battle with addiction, and know that we can help you too.  Check out our reviews from some of our many successful clients, and then call today to start your recovery.

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Origins of Hope provides treatment to women for addiction, trauma, anxiety and depression. If you are suffering from any of these conditions, you are not alone. Contact us using the form below or call our 24 hour helpline (561) 304-4673, and get help today! Don't spend another day battling addiction alone. We're here to help.

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