Sober Homes in Florida: Are They Helping or Hurting Clients?
The short answer is that yes, most sober homes in Florida are helping clients to heal in recovery from an active substance use disorder. As they transition from an inpatient addiction treatment home, a good sober home can do wonders to ensure that they have a safe, sober place to live and are surrounded by people who are dedicated to supporting them in recovery.
On the other hand, there are some sober living homes that are more focused on profiting off people in recovery than actually helping them to stay sober. Here’s what you need to know.
A Good Sober Living Home = Great Support in Recovery
At a sober living home, there is staff to assist you, often living at the home to ensure that people do not come home drunk or high, bring in people who are under the influence, or try to stash drugs or alcohol in the house. Depending on the type of sober living home you choose, these staff members may also be case managers for people living in the house, meeting with them regularly to help them stay on track in their recovery. Or, if the client is already engaged in some level of outpatient treatment, then staff members may be solely there to support all housemates in maintaining their recovery schedules, working together to take care of the house and create family meals, and also to implement regular drug testing so all in residence remain accountable to their sobriety.
Other housemates are also working to stay sober, and many find that they can build a strong sober network with the people they live with. Residents find peace in:
- Knowing they are headed home to a small recovery “family” of people who are also going through the ups and downs of getting and staying sober
- Working together to manage household chores, including shopping for and cooking “family” meals
- Knowing that there are no drugs or alcohol in the house
- Knowing that any differences of opinion or conflict will be worked out with the assistance of a staff member if needed
- Creating strong bonds with other housemates that often last a lifetime
An Illicit ‘Sober Living’ House Can Be Deadly
Sober living homes that provide support and even case management assistance during the course of a resident’s stay are not doing so superfluously. In fact, clients enroll in a sober living home because they genuinely need support in staying sober and do not feel they can do so on their own. Sober living homes that do not offer these support structures and services are not technically sober living homes. Even if everyone initially signs a contract to remain sober, if there is no oversight, residents will ultimately bring in whomever they want, get by without detection if they relapse, and stop attending treatment services and 12-Step meetings at any time, creating an environment that is conducive to relapse.
Warning Signs of a Fake Sober Living Home
Because clients in recovery are often expected to trust the process, it is not always easy to identify behaviors or choices that indicate fraud in a sober living home. Some red flags include:
- Insurance billing that lists charges from the sober living home that were not incurred
- No staff present on site at the sober living home for days at a time
- Being told that there is mandatory enrollment in (and payment for) services run by a specific organization and that if those services are not paid for then the client will be evicted
- Surprise “extra costs” that add up quickly
- Residents frequently overdosing in the house
This month, Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio presented a bill that would further root out all substance abuse treatment and sober home providers that are engaging in “shady” practices, filing fraudulent claims, and/or taking advantage of families in crisis due to addiction.
Says Senator Rubio: “The nation’s opioid epidemic has devastated far too many American families, and the thought of losing a loved one is already frightening enough without having to worry about unscrupulous actors posing as legitimate treatment centers. This bill will target disreputable treatment centers and sober homes that have plagued Florida to ensure wrongdoers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for the devastation they have caused too many families.”
Do you feel safe with your program? If not, is it time to seek out a treatment program and/or sober living home that will provide you with the support and care you need to stay sober?