The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT)
Lawmaker welcomes bill on sober homes
Measure aims to increase safety, chances for recovery
TORRINGTON — The lack of standards or regulations for sober home facilities has long been a concern in Connecticut. but a bill passed the House and Senate this week would create a voluntary system in which a sober home facility could become certified with the National Alliance for Recovery Residences.
Once certified, the owners of sober homes could register with the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Those homes would then be registered on the department’s website and updated weekly.
State Rep. Michelle Cook, D-Torrington, sponsored the legislation, HB 5149 “An Act Concerning Sober Living Homes,” which she said supports “a clean, safe living environment,” for people in recovery.
“Everybody says this is the step we need to take,” she said.
She said the bill, if signed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, would require the registered homes to carry at least two doses of opioid antagonists, such as Narcan, a medication that can reverse the effects of an overdose.
Addicts need to recover in a safe and clean environment, she said.
Without the regulations, recovering addicts could be living in a home where another tenant overdoses because many facilities lack supervision.
Homes that are individually owned are not subject to local zoning enforcement, Cook said. Fifteen people could be living in a three-bedroom house. Recovery experts estimate Torrington has at least 50 sober homes.
“I’ve see people market the legitimacy of a sober home, when in fact they are slumlords making a profit,” said John Hamilton, chief clinical outreach officer for Mountainside Treatment Centers.
Hamilton said recovering addicts are encouraged by achieving their goal of being drug free.
“They are grateful to have a place to live,” after treatment,” he said. “There should be a working standard of care.”
Hamilton said he supports the “no-wrong-door approach” to recovery.
”It’s taken six years of rallying for support,” of the legislation, Cook said.
She said the legislation will be “signed sooner rather than later.” If so, it would take effect in October.