One of the many new state laws that go into effect on Saturday (July 1) is House Bill 807, aimed at cracking down on sober home operators who are not working in their clients' best interests.
The law was championed by Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, whose office operates the Sober Home Task Force.
'We're dealing with 10 deaths statewide everyday. Two deaths alone in Palm Beach County. More than 25 overdoses a day where firefighters at least respond with Narcan to bring people back to life. So what we're dealing with is an epidemic."
Aronberg says he's putting unethical sober home operators on notice.
"You have all these people from across the country being lured down here by unscrupulous actors. In fact, 75 percent of people in private-pay rehab come from out of state. And when they're here, they too often leave in body bags and ambulances."
In addition to increasing penalties for those operating without a license, the new law will give law enforcement more tools to arrest and prosecute.
"We are getting tough on the deceptive marketing that starts the cycle of abuse. The deceptive marketing is what tracks people down to Florida from all over the country, under false pretenses. And then once they're here, they rarely leave."
Here's an outline of what this new legislation is aimed at doing:
"It expands the abiilty of DCF to inspect and regulate these outpatient treatment centers. It also gets tougher on patient brokering. It give prosecutors new tools and it also sends a message to the industry: 'No more deceptive marketing,' and you have a vibrant task force here in Palm Beach County that will hold people accountable who are violating the law and costing lives."
Aronberg tells us that these businesses will no longer get away with having telemarketers promise free airfare from up north to "get sober on the beach" and then provide drugs to their residents once they get here, all in the name of ripping off the insurance companies.
In addition to costing lives and potentially increasing insurance costs, Aronberg says the illegal sober homes are hurting the legitimate recovery community.
Photo: Archive Photos