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The Horrors of Illegal Recovery Homes

When people quit using drugs they sometimes have few choices about where they can live during recovery. With bridges often burned between friends and family members, a lot of individuals who are newly-sober are willing to take what they can get when it comes to a roof over their head. And in some areas of the country, that means taking up residence in illegal – and sometimes substandard – housing during early recovery.

Recovery Housing: A Money-Making Scheme

Philadelphia is home to one of the most recent and disturbing examples of rogue recovery housing. Jeffrey Jackson ran several unlicensed and unapproved “recovery homes” across the city.

Jackson works as an addiction counselor for Addiction Medicine & Health Advocates (AMHA), a local methadone maintenance program. On the side, however, he rents rooms to former and current AMHA clients – rooms that happen to be in hazardous and dilapidated homes that city housing officials have repeatedly deemed “unfit for human habitation.”

Jackson gave his underhanded rental business an interesting moniker, calling it “Dignity Recovery.” He charges each addict up to $600 per month for rent, three “complimentary” meals a day, and connection to a methadone program. Unfortunately, there’s nothing dignified or therapeutic about Jackson’s business.

Jackson has no rental license or zoning permit. At least one of the “homes” was run down to the point of virtual collapse, yet it held nearly 35 beds. What’s more, the structure was completely infested with bed bugs and rats. If any of the Dignity Recovery residents tried to leave, Jackson threatened to cut off their supply of methadone.

Local Objections to Illegal Recovery Residences

Philadelphia neighborhoods have been fighting this problem for some time.

After one structure is cited for a laundry list of violations, Jackson simply opens another one somewhere else. The city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections has been unable to stop Jackson from renting out these disgusting and hazardous rooms. According to documents, he has run at least seven illegal recovery homes.

Philadelphia residents turned out for a town hall meeting to discuss potential regulatory legislation for recovery residences with Rep. James Clay, Jr. Major concerns included lack of regulatory oversight of the so-called recovery homes and the increased crime attributed to the houses.

Illegal Recovery Housing Is a National Problem

Philadelphia isn’t the only city plagued with illegal recovery homes.

A Myrtle Beach, SC, TV station reported that a man was arrested for operating recovery centers. Clayton Alfred White was taken into custody and charged with grand larceny and illegally distributing drugs. Police also learned that White had opened similar clinics in North Carolina and Georgia.

Across the United States, thousands of these illegal recovery landlords collect rent – often in the form of Social Security checks, disability benefits, and food stamps – and offer desperate people in recovery “services” that are far from therapeutic.

What Is the National Alliance of Recovery Residences (NARR)?

The National Alliance of Recovery Residences (NARR) works to help the public dispel myths of what a quality recovery residence is and what it isn’t.

In 2011, NARR established a national standards and certification process that its affiliates use to certify recovery residences. A national advocate for effective recovery homes, NARR also champions for the rights of those living in recovery residences. With growing support on a national level, the hope is that stories like the ones in Philadelphia and Myrtle Beach will become fewer and less damaging.

Benefits of a Legal Sober Living Home

A sober living home should provide a safe, stable environment that does not tolerate substance use. Many homes encourage residents to take part in group therapy and/or 12-Step meetings. Residents of sober living recovery homes are encouraged to develop and work toward goals such as finding a job, completing school, or getting their finances in order.

Legal and legitimate sober living homes have many benefits. Some of these include:1

Does Insurance Cover Sober Living Recovery Homes?

You can ask your inpatient or outpatient rehab program about recommendations for reputable sober living homes. In some cases, they will help you transition to a sober living environment straight from treatment. Since some sober living houses are not considered formal treatment, public and private funders may not cover the fees since they are not medically based.

The best way to find out if your health insurance will pay for sober living is to call your health insurance provider directly, or verify your coverage now using our online verification tool.

Find Sober Living Programs

Diligence is required when selecting the right sober living home for you. Asking to tour the home and speaking to residents before making any commitments will help ensure that the program is a good match. To learn more about sober living programs and treatment options, contact a caring admissions navigator with American Addiction Centers (AAC) free at .

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