Property, Privacy and the Red Line of Arizona Sober Living
Posted on 12/08/17: Arizona Sober Living \ Opioid Aftercare Arizona \ Opioid Recovery Housing \ Sober Living Regulations
Residential property rights in Arizona are normally well-defined. There are zoning ordinances, HOAs, use restrictions and, of course, the neighbors. With covenants, rules and regulations come distinctive lines in what one can and cannot do. For Arizona sober living homes, it’s a thin red line that is crossed often, depending on where you stand. The gray areas are a plenty.
The Good Are Marred by the Bad Actors in Addiction Recovery
There’s a strange parallel between the need for addiction recovery facilities (in general) and our need for the internet. When the worldwide web was first unleashed, well-intentioned use was the goal. It was meant to help, not hurt. Sober living houses (part of the addiction recovery process) are meant to provide a safe healing environment for those in the recovery process. It aids in the successful integration towards a drug-free life and the daily routines that come from normal socialization. Here’s where the opportunity to turn a good thing, like the internet and addiction recovery, sour.
Without adequate regulations in place to somewhat “watchdog” these facilities, it’s a crap shoot on what an unsuspecting recovering addict will endure in a sober living home. If the addiction treatment facility (detox and inpatient programs) were from a less than legitimate place, vetting an aftercare facility in Arizona, for example, is crucial but more than likely won’t happen.
Scanty Regulations Are a Sobering Experience for Many
Imagine just coming out of treatment. You’re immersed in the 12-steps. In fact, you’re loving it, the whole sobriety thing. You’re in group therapy, enjoying a healthier lifestyle and yoga. You’ve mastered the Dolphin Plank pose. Now you’re taking all that you’ve learned during the inpatient stay and stepping up into the initial phase of aftercare, sober living. There’s a mix of excitement and anxiety as you’ll be housed with a handful or two of other people just like you but, nonetheless, are strangers. (Who wouldn’t be nervous?)
Recovering addicts are extremely vulnerable to emotional outbursts, miscommunication, and triggers that can instigate relapse. Their health, safety and security is everything to progressive success. Up until early 2017, there were no protocols in place to mandate sober living in our state. With growing allegations of fraud, abuse in some sober living properties across the country, and a localized public outcry from neighboring homes, ample attention has been given to the subject. With the revised Arizona statues in place, changes are coming in 2018 and with it, controversy.
Arizona Sober Living and Fair Housing Don’t Mix
According to the American Addiction Treatment Association (AATA), a sober home is defined as “an alcohol and drug-free environment inhabited by individuals who are attempting to maintain their recovery from substance abuse disorders.” The federal government classifies people with the disease of addiction as disabled. This classification falls under one of the groups that are protected under the Fair Housing Act.
Regulation Is a Slippery Slope of Prejudice
Arizona needs more sober living homes. And when they are set up correctly, most people who live in those same neighborhoods don’t even know they exist. Until recently, when an influx of shady players moved into this business and treated the addiction recovery space and its people with disrespect. Accounts of overcrowding, unsanitary dwellings, and house managers feeding their own drug habit and pushing recovering residents into relapse seem widespread (thanks to social shares).
Panic sets in to communities when they discover one of ‘those houses’ is among them, just around the corner or down the block. And it’s okay and welcomed by its owners when the property is nothing more than a cash cow, taking advantage of drug addicts on the road to recovery. Please, call them out. Unfortunately, it’s put a dark cloud over the entire industry, jeopardizing legitimate businesses and making it more difficult for those that need the help.
Arizona Cities Will Have the Right to Impose Sanctions
Sober living homes currently have little to no guidelines, unlike some other residential care businesses. The Arizona Department of Health Services demands that residential homes for those with disabilities (mental and physical) and the elderly must apply for and maintain an active license that allows them to run the business. The license is subject to health and safety regulations being met, in addition to how many residents per bedroom.
Because addiction aftercare quarters are often set up like a primary residence, with typical single-family in place, what goes on inside the home is a private matter. There’s a stigma surrounding addiction which now transcends into recovery, including the associated housing.
State Laws Don’t Really Exist Unless You Use Them
In 2016, Arizona passed a law allowing cities to instill regulations for group homes. For sober living properties, they must not be located closer than .25 mile of another, though modifications can be granted on an individual basis. Structured sober living facility owners will also be asked to obtain a designated city license(s) and follow a certain level of operating standards, all of which are still being formulated. But the devil is in the details.
Government Wants to Dictate Drug Testing
Part of the proposed licensing requirements are to include the enforcement of random drug testing of the residents in sober living. This crosses the red line of personal privacy and sends a message to those recovering in Arizona that the state already doubts their ability to maintain sobriety, and bears concerns over the aftercare programs as well.
Is there really a positive place for socialism in America’s drug war?
Don’t Let Doubt Be Part of Your Sober Living Experience. Get Answers
Authored by Melanie Stern, Content Director for soberlivingaz.com, writer and broadcaster covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best.
If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, contact Sober Living of AZ now to get the help you need. Sober Living offers an acclaimed recovery environment that merges upscale and luxury accommodations with affordability, clinical expertise and an unwavering commitment to patient care and aftercare. Call us now at 602-737-2458.