By: Dave Stein Special to the Delray newspaper
I just finished rewatching the Megyn Kelly piece on sober homes and the treatment industry in Delray Beach. Although, she brought up many valid concerns regarding corrupt practices in the treatment industry (which I do not believe are isolated to South Florida), she demonstrated a total lack of understanding of what is a sober home and what is the REAL problem. As a member of the recovery community, I feel the need to clarify.
I came to Delray Beach in 2004, went to a superior treatment center and have been free of drugs and alcohol ever since. I was not enticed to go to treatment with offers of free drugs, food or lodging. I enrolled because I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I am eternally grateful to the recovery community in Delray and its’ treatment professionals.
The government officials interviewed on that program demonstrated a true lack of understanding as to the good most treatment facilities do for the clients, communities and their local economy. Rental rates and home values have practically doubled in my neighborhood (in the past 6 years) which is the SE quadrant and it is laden with Sober Homes. The neighborhood has changed from rundown properties, cheap rentals, flop and crack houses to clean well kept sober homes and beautiful single family homes. Now, let’s take a look at the core issues of the Kelly piece.
First off let me say my heart goes out to the families of those who have lost their children because of the disease of addiction. Yes, some of the deaths were affected by the few treatment industry owners that lack integrity in their business practices, that lured clients into unsafe situations with illegal enticements. Unfortunately, every industry has good and bad owners. What makes this so sad and national news is that it is a life and death situation.
Megyn kept using the term sober home inappropriately. What she was referring to as sober homes was free housing offered as enticement to lure in young addicts looking for a free ride because they have insurance or because in some cases insurance would be purchased for them by the facilities. Yes some of these unscrupulous operators do all the things she discussed, but this is not indicative of the industry as a whole. This is a small percentage of operators within what is known as Intensive Out Patient (IOP’s) Centers. Many of the IOP’s save lives and give excellent care. Let’s also take a look at another area where blame lies, the insurance industry.
The interview discussed testing for drugs and getting billed insane rates. The carriers are paying insane rates. A 12 panel UA cup may be purchased for as little as $3 and sent to a lab for $30. Some insurance carriers were paying $100 a panel or $1200 for a 12 panel cup test that with doctor fees cost less than $150. These treatment centers and IOP’s that opened and went to billing millions of dollars in their 1st year should have set off alarms with audit departments of the insurance companies. You think these folks should have a little more fiscal, shareholder and social responsibility?
For the record, a sober home is a home where clients come AFTER completing treatment and are required to attend 12 step meetings, have a sponsor, do the 12 steps, have curfews, and a plethora of other rules and are drug and alcohol tested regularly. Legitimate, sober homes DO NOT bill insurance companies. They are not medical service providers. They are not assisted living facilities. They are homes where clients live by rules to create a safe environment for the challenges of early recovery from the diseases of alcoholism and addiction. Their clients work and pay weekly fees.
In summation, If you are going to do a story, you should at least understand the treatment industry. She did not interview 1 sober home and operator and should be ashamed of herself for such irresponsible, one sided, misinformed reporting.