Mod: Good article on the sober home crisis from NPR.
When Phillip decided to stop using heroin, he knew sticking around home was a recipe for failure.
"It's just, like, a heroin epidemic on Long Island where I'm from. So I had to get away from that and now I'm in Prescott, Ariz.," Phillip says. NPR agreed not to use his last name because he is struggling with addiction and fears it might hurt his chances of future employment.
Phillip and a handful of other young people are filtering through the line at a soup kitchen at the Prescott United Methodist Church just before noon. They are grabbing a bite to eat before their next meeting of recovering addicts nearby.
"Everybody here is basically, I feel like, in recovery and they're more serious about it," says Phillip.
Not like back home in New York, he says, where people shoot up in the parking lot before meetings.
You hear similar stories from others who come to this idyllic mountain community to shake their addiction. Outdoor recreation, a mild climate, scenic vistas and a welcoming attitude toward those in recovery is touted in a promotional video by a group called Drug Rehab Arizona.
And with its motto "Welcome to Everybody's Hometown," Prescott has become a hub for the multi-billion-dollar recovery industry. It's even listed by the recovery website TheFix as one of the top 10 destinations in the country to get sober.
This has caused a boom in sober living houses — homes where six to eight recovering addicts live under the supervision of a house manager, who is usually also a recovering addict. During the day, they typically go to outpatient treatment centers, attend meetings and once further into recovery, look for work. At last count, Prescott, population 40,000, had more than 150 of these sober living homes, with new ones opening up frequently. And some Prescott residents are upset.
Group homes have inundated the community, says Connie Cantelme, who lives in one of Prescott's historic neighborhoods where several sober houses have popped up.
"When you've got a hundred boys and men trying to kick a heroin problem, how do you feel safe living next door to them when they're falling off the wagon all the time?" she asks.
Once she remembers coming outside for her morning coffee to find that a man had overdosed under her deck.
Cantelme worries this influx of recovering addicts and the proliferation of group homes is tarnishing Prescott's image.
That's certainly a concern, says Allison Zelms, Prescott's deputy city manager, who says, "We are reaching a tipping point." But Zelms says an even greater concern is the quality of care in some of these programs.
"Are people really being sold a bill of goods, or are they going to come to Prescott to really have a good chance of success in their treatment?" Zelms asks.
That's a difficult question to answer. Group homes are generally easy to start, cheap to run and, in states like Arizona, largely unregulated, other than some city zoning and code enforcement.
You can read the rest here.