By: John Coleman, MSW, ACSW, Vice President of Clinical Services and Regulatory Compliance
South Florida regrettably has suffered from substance abuse programs and recovery residences that have engaged in unethical practices to lure individuals into certain treatment programs using patient “brokers,” inducements to clients, deceptive marketing, and the use of poorly supervised sober living homes.
Based on recommendations by the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force, much-needed reform has come in the form of Practices of Substance Abuse Service Providers Act (Florida House Bill 807). On April 26, 2017, the Florida State Senate unanimously passed the bill, signed into law by Governor Rick Scott, and implemented and effective July 1, 2017.
Sober living homes or recovery residences, offering alcohol and drug-free environments, are not an officially licensed level of care in Florida. A proliferation of such residences occurred in recent years, with many such homes located in Palm Beach County. Shady admission practices emerged as patient “brokers” were offered kickbacks to channel individuals across the nation suffering from substance use disorders into such homes, and, in turn, placed into outpatient treatment programs who offered the brokers cash inducements.
Fortunately, not all recovery residences engage in such questionable practices. High-quality homes have the option to obtain certification by organizations such as the Florida Association of Recovery Residences (FARR), which ensures adherence to strong ethical standards. The new law now prohibits referrals from recovery residences to treatment providers unless such residences are voluntarily certified.
The Practices of Substance Abuse Service Providers Act classifies patient brokering as “racketeering” and imposes escalating fines starting at $50,000 for brokering activities. Also prohibited are deceptive marketing practices such as toll-free call centers or websites who misrepresent the true provider or describe services which have false or misleading statements.
Additionally, the law requires background checks on all staff members and specifies what treatment interventions must be performed by licensed or certified professionals. By January 2018 The Department of Children and Families (DCF), which licenses alcohol and drug programs, will establish minimum standards that address administrative management, utilization of best practices, minimum qualifications for all staff, and service provider facility standards.
Alan. S Levine, co-founder of Addiction Recovery Legal Services, LLC, is a distinguished attorney who serves the South Florida area and has been a reliable and vital source in keeping Lifeskills South Florida abreast of this legislation. Practicing since 1990, Alan has helped hundreds of families in need of addiction, mental health, and Marchman Act interventions.
For over 26 years, Lifeskills has provided quality treatment to individuals 18 years of age and older who may be facing challenges with psychiatric disorders, such as depression, Bipolar Disorder, schizophrenia, Borderline Personality Disorder, and co-occurring substance use disorders. Located in Deerfield Beach, Florida, Lifeskills South Florida is certified by the Florida Association of Recovery Residences (FARR), dually licensed by both the Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF) and the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (ACHA), and is nationally accredited by CARF. Our nationally certified and licensed professional staff provide residential, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, outpatient care and transitional living through a comprehensive clinical program. The individualized treatment program offers five distinct tracks: Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Chemical Dependency, Trauma/PTSD, and Cognitive Remediation. We understand the need to meet individuals where they are in their disorder and customize a treatment program that fits their needs. Using a thorough assessment, including genetic testing and family assessments, our physicians and therapists design a program tailored to the needs of the client that complement the core track with secondary supports.
If you are considering enrolling yourself or a loved one in a Florida sober living home, we encourage you to consider those certified by FARR. Ethical treatment programs do exist and are helping individuals regain control of their lives daily. Lifeskills South Florida proudly adheres to FARR’s standards of operational integrity, client rights, quality of care, property and architecture standards, good neighbor policies and Code of Ethics. Through compassionate and nurturing professionals, we believe individuals can change their lives. Lifeskills provides the tools needed for empowerment and sustained long-term recovery.
Lifeskills South Florida can help you or your loved one get your life back on track and is one of the most highly reputable drug rehabs in the Fort Lauderdale area. To learn more about our accredited residential and outpatient treatment programs, please contact us.