Monday, May 22, 2017

Sober Living: How some Southern California drug rehab centers exploit addiction

Mod: A great four part series of articles from the Orange County Register on California's deeply troubled drug rehab industry called "How some Southern California drug rehab centers exploit addiction" is now available. This impressive work is a must read and can be accessed in its entirety by clicking here. In Sierra Madre the topic would specifically be sober living homes, as typified by the Dedicato Treatment Center on W. Carter Avenue. Here is the portion of that OC Register piece dealing with the problematic nature of many of these places.

Sober living?

While the state tracks licensed rehab centers, there is little oversight or regulation related to sober living homes. Experts say there are thousands of sober living homes in California, but nobody knows the exact number.

What these homes ostensibly provide sounds great – fellowship and support for people struggling to stay clean; housing for people who might otherwise be homeless; structure.

The living arrangement, in fact, is considered a family by law. And cities and counties can’t ban sober living houses because the residents – like patients in licensed rehab centers – are legally protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

But critics suggest sober living homes also are where some of the most egregious abuses of the rehab system take place.

Timmy Solomon repeatedly lapsed in sober living homes.

In 2013, Solomon, now 28, came from his hometown, Boston, to Dana Point, to get sober. Since then, the long-time addict has lived in rehab centers, sober living homes and on the streets.

Earlier this year, to get a glimpse of what happens inside rehab, the Southern California News Group followed Solomon for about 90 days. During that time he spent separate stints in a string of detox hospitals, residential rehabilitation centers and sober living homes in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

The pattern for Solomon was consistent and depressingly familiar – shooting up narcotics, entering rehab, relapsing and eviction.

Solomon’s journey revealed a key point – sober living homes can be places where recovery falls apart.

One of Solomon’s relapses came after Solomon claimed he’d been drug-free, in a sober living home, for more than a month. A friend at a San Juan Capistrano recovery center gave him a bag of methamphetamine, he said, and he used it.

During another meeting with reporters, at a Whittier-area sober living home, Solomon showed up saying he’d just knocked back three beers to ease the side-effects of detoxing cold turkey.

On St. Patrick’s Day, Solomon entered Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach for detox. He spent 10 days there before leaving for a sober living home in San Clemente.

In late April, on what was supposed to be his 40th day clean, Solomon escorted reporters into a bathroom in the San Clemente home, where he shut the door, locked it and turned on the shower. As the room steamed up, he dumped a baggie of new needles on the counter, along with a bottle of 75 oxycodone pills he said a doctor had just prescribed him. “He’s trying to help me get off heroin,” Solomon said of the physician. “I haven’t slept in two nights.”

Solomon then crushed up six pills, mixed them with methamphetamine and water, and injected it all into his vein.

Sober living managers don’t need to be credentialed in any way. In some homes, they’re recovering addicts or former drug dealers. Critics say some rehab centers use sober living homes as way stations of sorts, places to store patients who can be given or encouraged to use drugs again so they can become candidates to return to lucrative in-patient rehab.

“The thing that’s causing the most problems is the sober living home environment,” said Robert Harris, a policy adviser at the California Society of Addictive Medicine.

Congressman Darrell Issa, a Republican who represents south Orange County, said he’s pushing to undo what he views as overly bureaucratic protections for sober living homes.

“If you’re interested in getting (addicts) back into productive lives, (the current protections) don’t make sense.”

Another politician, California Assemblywoman Melissa A. Melendez, a Republican from Lake Elsinore, is sponsoring a bill (AB 285) that would require the state to regulate and monitor sober living homes for the first time.

She became interested in the rehab industry after a string of four deaths between 2008 and 2010 at a rehab center in Murrieta and other rehab deaths in Lake Arrowhead. She’s targeting sober living homes because they can provide a fallback for unscrupulous rehab center operators.

“What happens to these facilities when they shut down?” Melendez asked.

“Do (the operators) up and move into another California community with another name and another cast of characters doing the same thing?”

Melendez didn’t differentiate between licensed centers and sober living homes when she first learned about the industry. Prosecutors sometimes don’t either.

Experts say the case against Los Angeles-based rehab operator Chris Bathum offers a glimpse into how the industry can break down.

Bathum, whose empire included the Seasons rehab center in Malibu and who described himself as “The Rehab Mogul,” is accused of sexually assaulting nine female patients, sometimes providing them with drugs as they struggled to overcome their addictions. He denies those allegations.

Bathum also is accused of fraudulent billing to the tune of $176 million, prosecutors said. The alleged billing includes charges for services that prosecutors say were never provided.

Bathum has denied all of the fraud allegations as well, and his attorney declined to comment.

Still, regulators say the criminal case is also a case study.

The allegations against Bathum “illustrate the medical provider fraud that can and does occur,” California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said. “It’s egregious.”

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

45 comments:

  1. Just think, our community can be run over by reb centers, pot shopS on Sierra Madre Blvd and increases uut which pay for city employees pensions and cadallic insurance plans, and the tax payer continually get it in the rears! What a great feeling!!!

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  2. In America all health care is predicated on the needs of the insurance companies. I'm sure "sober houses" are far cheaper than real addiction care.

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    1. It looks like nothing is as effective as AA or NA.
      They don't cost anything.

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  3. White punks on dope.

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    1. All groups have addicts. It's a pity - and these hustler operations for sobriety don't help anyone.

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    2. They make money for some people.
      And the rehab owners get to claim they do it for the good of all.

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  4. Tattler Tantrums!
    When President Trump has the red carpet rolled out for him, in the Muslim and Jewish countries, the Tattler attempts the old switch and bait news.

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    1. I'm sure we paid for the rug. The one on the ground and the one on the senile old fool's head.

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    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    3. The Tattler is damned if it does, damned if it doesn't. Posts about national news get complaints about not being local, and local news gets a complaint about not being national. Jeez.

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    4. I'm thinking of turning it into reggae blog. Then everyone will be happy.

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    5. Chant down Babylon!

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  5. I've heard that the place on Carter has some late night, early morning activity. You would think that sober living might involve early to bed and early to rise.

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    1. My guess is that those kind of neighborhood homes are just places for people with insurance or money to temporarily dry out or kick something.

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    2. 9:35, that might depend on who's in charge of enforcing behavior.
      It's probably some low level kind of work that pays little, rather than what it should be, a professional job filled by a nurse or physician.

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    3. Insurance companies love sober living homes. They are so much cheaper than hospitals. I'm sure they greased a bunch of palms in Washington and Sacramento to make it all happen.

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  6. If we had a real newspaper in town maybe we'd learn more about the place on Carter.

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    1. For real information, all we've had for a long time is the blog you're reading.

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    2. The news philosophy of Sierra Madre's weekly adjudicated newspaper is "kiss ass for cash."

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  7. Bate and switch? Looks like we go between local news and national news. I guess it just depends on how you look at things/issues. Some people are half empty and some are half full. How about this, if your 20 it's half full, if your 80 it's half empty.

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  8. Do Rehab houses need to be registered? Is it possible to get a list from the state or your local city? Does the police get informed? Do the ambulance people know when they get called to such a house? If rehabs have a record does that info stay in there info packet at the rehab house, does a copy get sent to local detectives to help in local crimes? Seems we residents are exposed to a lot of dangers with a rehab house in the neighborhood. Maybe the new city manager needs to look into some of these questions. Thank you TATTLER for the heads up.

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    1. The Planning Commission did a lot of work on regulations for larger facilities. They have to be a certain distance from each other. But they didn't do anything about the real threat for a town like ours, the smaller facilities. Any house for rent or sale in any part of town can be made into one of these things, and the city government has given up.

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  9. "Sober living managers don’t need to be credentialed in any way."
    How was this ever allowed?

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  10. If the Dedicato Treatment Center on Carter is successful, it will be very bad for Sierra Madre. Word will go out that we are ripe for the picking.

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  11. The really sad case of the guy featured in the Register's report is a perfect lesson in what it takes for people to get off drugs or alcohol. They have to want to. Otherwise it just won't work, no matter where they are, or who is trying to help them.

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  12. 10:06am,10:07am,& 10:18am. Suppose that not one of you has attended a City meeting, when all of this was discussed.
    Again, the mis-informed on this site.

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    1. 10:29, if you can get over that bit of self-righteousness, maybe you can inform others.
      Just because people don't show up at meetings doesn't mean they don't try to follow city business.

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  13. Sure, 10:36am. There are no "stupid" questions. Asking the same question, getting the same answers, or reprinting "old news" that is the definition of "insanity".

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    1. Quote guy trying to start a "fight"

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    2. 11:33 is bitter.

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    3. 11:33pm. Is ecstatic about the lack of "drama" the left can't create with the "fake news" stories.

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    4. Thanks, Milo.

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  14. Is the Pussy Grabber pussy whipped?May 22, 2017 at 1:53 PM

    Melania slaps away Trump’s hand: red-faced on Israeli red carpet
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suDNHwtqoiU

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    1. Melania is not the first woman to feel the wave of nausea across her soul when she finds herself stuck with a horror show of a sham marriage. One as public as this is a special nightmare. She knows how awful this looks and can't avoid the glare of the world.

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    2. That woman was bought and sold - and she made those choices.

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    3. The entire Middle East must be roaring with laughter.

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    4. And this has to do with the article how?

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    5. It's the Tattler. Nobody is required to stay on topic.

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  15. Given the strict attitudes of woman's place in Arabic/Muslim/Middle Eastern Society/culture, the exploitation of Trump's wife must be quite the buzz. All those men looking at her near-nude photos easily found on the internet is Trump's shame. The talk of a hair covering or no hair covering is sorrily too late.

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    1. There is a deep hatred for the perceived whorishness of women from the west. She's not helping. I doubt the woman even owns clothing that would be appropriate.

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    2. I write her and tell her to wear one of those Hillary Clinton suits that are down right ugly and cost a bundle! I know she wears them because of her legs. Melanie doesn't have that problem. In this PC age I'm surprised that you make these comments about any female!

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    3. The problem with Mel is getting her to wear clothes at all.

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  16. I'm 10:06 and I was there one of the nights it was discussed. Some times you can't think of the problems until they come up. Next time I go to such a meeting I will have looked up all the negatives and then write a letter to council, planning commission, city manager and then go to the meeting. It would be nice if the city could handle business and not require the residents to get involved for our protection. As a resident I wouldn't mind paying those high pensions if the employees were doing a good job for us residents and not them and there pensions.

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    1. Couldn't agree more, 4:22. Thanks.

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  17. The most recent city councils have always taken the path of least resistance. If they don't absolutely have to discuss the real financial issues this city faces, they won't do it. The residents have to make telling the full truth the path of least resistance. Otherwise they'll just fill your ears with happy talk.

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