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Catching Up the Law with Sober Homes

Visitors in recovery residences, or sober homes, are promised the best that Florida has to offer for a person recovering from substance abuse. Upon entrance to a facility, a resident is linked up with the local Social Security Agency, provided with transportation, and is provided with all of the support that they need. This includes a place to sleep, a means of getting to and from treatment, and even food stamps for no additional charge.

Most of these residents are from out of state, and many find their way to the Florida sober homes through the internet. At many of these sober homes, a resident pays a one-time admission fee of a few hundred dollars and then a small weekly rent charge. If a person does not pass a weekly or twice weekly drug test, they are asked to leave.

Lack of Regulation

Florida has been called a “destination site” for recovery which has spurred the creation of the sober home industry in the state. Unlike other states where patients receive treatment and go home, most of the sober home residents in Florida come from out of state and choose to live there.

No one knows exactly how many residents are currently in sober homes throughout the state. One estimate places around 3,500 people in sober homes at any given moment, but in Delray Beach alone there are over 500 residences scattered countywide. In addition, these homes are being established in the middle of residential neighborhoods, where neighbors are complaining about unregulated residents congregating in and around the homes.

One of the main issues with regulating sober homes and their residents is that they are considered a protected class of people. Because people within the home are considered disabled by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the courts have ruled that it is illegal for cities to record where they are located. In addition, the laws prohibit denying a person a place to live and federal laws prevent the police from recording the site of a sober home even if they have to respond to calls at the residence.

Plans for Legislation

In 2015, new legislation in Florida will ask operators of sober homes in the state to get voluntary certification with the Department of Child and Family Services. The department will then create a list available online that names all of the certified sober homes and facilities in the state.

The new laws will also prohibit rehabilitation facilities that receive state funding from sending patients to uncertified sober homes. As an extension of that rule, the new laws also ban rehabilitation centers from getting kickbacks from sober homes for patient referrals.

Contact a Florida Attorney Today

The lack of regulation on sober home facilities creates a situation that has the potential for many different kinds of abuse. If you or a loved one has been hurt or killed in or around a sober home residence in the West Palm Beach area, let the attorneys at Gary Roberts & Associates help. Call the office or contact us today for a free and private review of your case.

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