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Florida Halfway House Scams and How to Avoid Them

A halfway house, also known as a sober living home, is a place to reside for persons in recovery from alcohol or other drugs, typically following a stay at a residential treatment center or when in an intensive outpatient (IOP) treatment program.

What is the scam and how to find a legitimate operation

Florida, the sunshine state. Also, home to thousands in recovery and a hub for the sober community. And with a countrywide opioid drug epidemic this means it is only expanding with thousands of detoxes, treatment centers, and recovery houses. When moving to Florida to get sober you can automatically see the degree of this booming industry, and one of the first terms you will hear when entering the halfway house scene will be “Flop House.”

Where there is a booming market there will be organizations that cut corners for more profit, which has turned into a major issue for Florida recovery and insurance companies alike, even pushing a major provider to back out of the state completely. This is scaring loved ones affected by addiction and creating an outcry in the sober world. So how can you know where you or a loved one can find genuine help in possibly the most crucial time of your life? AION Recovery is here to help.

What is a Flop House?

A “flop house” is a term used to define any house where clients are in and out, relapsing quickly with little assistance, but it more particularly defines the scams that are hurting insurance companies and losing individuals their coverage. Many of these houses will fly people in from around the country, footing the bill only to drain their insurance coverage with little in return. Many offer IOP (Intensive Outpatient) programs, these in some cases are the biggest scammers, because they use insurance coverage to provide housing which is completely illegal.

These flop houses will bill for “IOP”, urine tests, breathalyzers, and a slew of other “fees,” often enabling clients to stay regardless of whether they’re sober or not. They will pick up the urine then sell the tests for thousands of dollars to third party labs, making it beneficial to fly clients in from out of state given tests are performed once, sometimes twice, a week. When people think they are coming to get sober, they are only getting further enabled, and many are relapsing and even dying as a result.

A major inspection has been launched by the FBI centered around invalid halfway houses. In response, one major insurance provider, Cigna, has pulled out of the Florida marketplace for the year 2016. More than 30,000 individuals will have to change insurers if they plan to keep a similar plan for 2016. The Palm Beach Post reported a case Cigna cited as part of their objective viewpoint, where a client was charged over $300,000 for urine analysis’ of a nine-month span. Luckily the state has taken notice, due to enhanced homelessness, crime, and the threat of more insurance providers backing out. So how can you know which houses are right for you and ensure an appropriate chance at recovery?

FARR– Florida Association of Recovery Residences

FARR provides certification standards for Florida halfway houses.

In 2011, the Florida Association of Recovery Residences was founded and has become a crucial provider of certification for Florida halfway houses. FARR guarantees houses are carrying out ethical and legal methods and are financially sincere. A house that is FARR approved offers a significantly greater chance of recovery and liability.

The nonprofit organization is associated with the national organization NARR (National Alliance of Recovery Residences) and works under its criteria and ethics. NARR is also a great resource if you live outside of the state of Florida. The requirements for both organizations can be viewed at http://farronline.org/standards-ethics/standards/. FARR offers 5 levels of accreditation and what that means can also be viewed in detail at the link given. If you or a loved one is looking for recovery housing FARR and/or NARR approval should be required. FARR approved housing can provide structure, accountability, and support from the operators and clients alike. It is a beneficial and a crucial point in your recovery, so don’t let the thought of flop houses frighten you, because halfway houses can be a reliable source for those trying to recover from an addiction, just be sure to use due diligence and research before going into a sober living environment.

You can call the operators of a house to make sure they are FARR or NARR authorized, and it would also be useful to ask what recovery process their house supports (12 step, faith based, SMART, etc.). You can also narrow down a few houses and ask to take a tour and meet some of the clients. At FARROnline.org > certification > certified-residences, you can find all FARR authorized houses and it enables you to narrow down what process you are looking for, the level of certification, as well as the rent costs. Discovering reviews from former house clients will also help your search. Houses with few reviews should be checked more thoroughly, as clients are more likely to leave reviews when they have had a positive experience and it has played a vital role in their recovery. Another useful thing to know is whether the houses are co-ed or gender specific.

Know where you are going, and who you are dealing with.

If you are one of the millions suffering from addiction and are planning to move to Florida, make sure you know precisely where you are going. AION Recovery knows from experience that the time frame of asking for help and getting help is immediate, but this does not mean corners should be cut, because this is your life that depends on it.

Take every safety measure before entering treatment or recovering housing. Call your insurance company to understand your coverage and use the FARR directory. Many reputable houses require rent out-of-pocket which can range anywhere from $150-250 a week or more including a security deposit, so know your budget as well. Many FARR approved companies do offer chances for scholarship and financial aid, so if you are not financially stable be sure to ask the operators what they offer.

Legitimate companies will also usually be skeptical of you as well, making sure only dedicated clients enter their operations. So, an interview is also a good sign. Though it may be tempting, be cautious of those willing to pay travel expenses and lack of out-of-pocket expenses. If you or a loved one needs instant mental help, another great reference is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Visit SAMHSA’s Treatment Facility Locator website or call their national hotline 1-800-662-HELP.

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, call AION Recovery toll free at 888-811-2879. Our staff is standing by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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