Sober residing, dependancy therapy conflicts return to lawmakers’ crosshairs – Orange County Register

For all important actors – parents whose children have taken drugs in so-called rest homes, neighbors who live next to the often problematic businesses, and many of the rehab residents themselves – the reform of the fraud-plagued sober life industry cannot take place quickly enough.

On Thursday, December 3, three members of Congress tabled a bill aimed at improving the quality of care offered to recover addicts living in sober homes.

The proposed law, dubbed the “Housing Reclamation Excellence Act,” would require the National Academy of Sciences to study high-quality rehabilitation housing and make recommendations on how to increase its availability. It would also determine how to improve data collection on recovery, ensure that drug treatments are available to people who wish to stay sober, and examine the legal implications that persist at the state and local levels surrounding convalescent homes .

The bill would also urge the Federal Drug Abuse and Mental Health Agency to work with “reputable vendors” to develop comprehensive guidelines for troubled state governments and provide approximately $ 57 million in grants to aid states could help create high-quality housing.

Sky Forest’s Wendy McEntyre lost her son Jarrod to an overdose in a sober dorm in 2004. In his mind, she founded the non-profit Jarrod Law and began fighting for change. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

“For millions of Americans living with addiction and the millions who love them, entering a convalescent home or ‘sober home’ is an incredibly significant step that represents hope for a life beyond addiction,” the said U.S. Representative Judy Chu, D. -Pasadena, in a statement.

“That hope can be fragile, however, as recovery is a delicate time that requires skilled, professional attention. Because of this, we need to ensure that the recreational accommodations actually provide the safe and stable environment that we expect. Unfortunately, I’ve heard too many stories from people who lost someone in their recovery because the staff weren’t trained to spot things like the signs of an overdose. “

While federal attention on the matter is welcome, activists advocating greater regulation of the addiction treatment industry are frustrated with yet another bill aimed at guidelines rather than strict rules and recommendations rather than action.

“To the extent that this bill encourages all states to take responsibility for and serve their recovering populations, this could be a good bill,” said Laurie Girand of Advocates for Responsible Treatment in San Juan Capistrano.

“But if the government only focuses on the ‘good’ providers, it cannot address the whole picture,” added Girand.

“What we really need is that Congress have the courage to say that the Kaiser has no clothes. This is an industry in dire need of government regulation. “

To that end, state lawmakers are preparing to reintroduce laws in Sacramento that would take important steps to reform California’s industry.


The federal law was introduced by Representatives David Trone, D-Maryland, Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, and Chu. It builds on Chu’s previous legislation that resulted in quality restoration guidelines for residences that some critics found poor.

This bill will help SAMHSA improve these guidelines and provide resources to states to promote the availability of quality recreational residences. It is supported by a variety of large national treatment groups.

Congregation member Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach, center, announced a new working group on substance abuse treatment in 2019. Behind her is activist Wendy McEntyre, Congregation member Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, Congregation member Henry Stern, D. -Calabasas, Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo; and Congregation member Bill Brough, R-Dana Point. (Courtesy Cottie Petrie-Norris)

MEP Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach, heads a bipartisan group of Sacramento lawmakers advocating more fundamental reform in California. It will reinstate Jarrod’s law requiring outpatient centers, now completely unattended by the state, to be licensed and regulated by the Department of Health Care Services.

Governor Gavin Newsom liked the big idea but said in a veto message that “developing a new licensing scheme is a significant undertaking and would require a significant deviation from the bill as registered.”

Petrie-Norris is working to address these concerns. The bill was named in honor of Wendy McEntyre’s son, Jarrod, who died of an overdose in 2004 while in a sober dorm in the San Fernando Valley.

Rose and Allen Nelson have an exhibit at the entrance of their Santa Monica home from son Brandon Nelson who died in an unlicensed Sovereign Health home seeking treatment. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register / SCNG)

With that in mind, Senator Pat Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, will reintroduce “Brandon’s Law,” which would prohibit rehab on false advertising and marketing. It is named after Brandon Nelson, who died at the age of 26 in an unlicensed home run by a company that a team of professionals promised – but couldn’t even get his medication in time.

Newsom liked the big idea here, too, but he vetoed the bill fearing that the Department of Health would be asked to build police residences, which the agency is currently not doing. Bates is working to address these concerns.

Bates is also pushing for another idea – a bill that would crack down on drug dealers selling the deadly fentanyl, which is responsible for skyrocketing numbers of bodies, even in children.

“Before COVID, we planned a coalition to figure out what was achieved with each bill and what we had to do to fully refine it,” Bates said. “We’re back now. Let’s get some data points. Where are the hot spots? What works?

“There is a lot of money going on substance abuse in the public and private insurance industries,” added Bates. “Does it hit the mark? We really need some studies and investing money in it would be well spent. “

Bates and Petrie-Norris appreciate anything that pays more attention to the issues, and both want the federal government to do more.

“We are working hard to raise standards for patient care and license all substance use programs in California,” said Petrie-Norris.

“We are very excited to introduce the Excellent Residential Property Act in Congress. We urgently need measures at the state and federal level. Part of this is higher standards for rest homes. I would like to see the bill go on. “

Petrie Norris suggested that the federal government could help by making it difficult for federal funds to get into recovery facilities that don’t meet state or federal standards. In addition, federal lawmakers could clarify the Fair Housing Act and the Disabled Americans Act to specify exactly when a substance use disorder qualifies as a disability and under what circumstances local governments can regulate recreational accommodation.

“The bottom line is that people are dying,” said Petrie-Norris. “We must treat this as a crisis and act urgently to put predatory houses out of business.”

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