Over the past several years, the United States has seen an influx of drug addiction that has swept the nation. Specifically, opioids have been the cause for concern and created a crisis, unlike anything that has been seen in American history.

Florida has taken the brunt of the hit, and today, the state is doing its best to reel out of this unfortunate position. In 2016, there were 2,798 opioid-related overdose deaths in Florida. This was at a staggering rate of 14.4 deaths per 100,000 persons. The death rate has increased due to synthetic drugs like fentanyl. In 2016 there were 1,566 synthetic opioid-related deaths compared to a mere 200 in 2013.
Another drug that has reemerged on the drug scene is cocaine. Florida is a hub for drugs coming in from South America, and this is the first stop for the powerful stimulant drug. Unfortunately, it is not leaving the state. Cocaine has been the primary drug threat for years until the opioid crisis worsened. In 2009, 7,701 people were admitted to drug abuse treatment programs for crack cocaine, and another 3,815 for powder cocaine.Judge's gavel with law books

As of 2012 in Florida, a total of 54,357 people received help for their addiction; 41.2 percent were enrolled into treatment for a drug problem and 16.4 percent for an alcohol problem only. With such a large number of the state’s population entering into drug rehab facilities, it is necessary to draft laws that protect the state’s growing population. With drug abuse rampant and continually on the rise, we have seen a vast increase in people seeking out treatment.

Having the necessary laws in place to protect people who enroll in addiction treatment can be the difference between life and death. If someone attends a fraudulent facility that doesn’t follow the rules, their experience will suffer which, in turn, could cause them to abandon their sobriety.

A poor experience will be seared into someone’s mind the next time they think of getting treatment, so to prevent this from occurring, it is essential to know the laws put in place to protect clients. Below, we discuss some of the most important features implemented by drug treatment centers to ensure you or your loved one’s safety.

Sober Living Laws

Due to the rise of fraudulent sober living homes in the past several years, there have been laws implemented such as bill HB 807, which is designed to curb sober home abuse and corruption by imposing criminal penalties on sober home operators who fraudulently market their facility or run it without a license. The bill also includes more stringent background checks and imposes increased penalties for violations of state guidelines that already exist. According to the law:

  • Client brokering was added to the list of serious crimes that include murder, robbery, and can be tackled by Florida’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.
  • Rehab centers must verify that they offer the services that are required by the law.
  • Stricter background checks put in place on operators, owners, and clinical supervisors.
  • Centers that do not meet state guidelines will be penalized up to $500 per violation.
  • After June 30, 2019, rehab centers are mandated to refer clients to sober homes that are certified only by the state. The centers can be fined $1,000 for every referral made to non-certified sober homes.
  • Criminal penalties will be put in place for client brokering; the penalties are steep and can include up to a first-degree felony and $500,000 fine if the violation includes more than 20 clients.

Medical Detox Laws

Part of bill HB 807 (SB 788), there are new guidelines set in place that also include oversights of Florida medical detoxification centers. Drug treatment center marketers will need to be licensed by the state’s Division of Consumer Services to ensure their authenticity and complicity. Deceiving or lying about treatment services or amenities offered will be classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. In Florida, there is a law called the Marchman Act that allows family members to involuntarily commit a loved one to medical detox if they fit the criteria. Family members can file a petition under the Marchman Act with their local Clerk of Court to set a hearing for their loved one. Courts can then order them to get treatment and work toward getting sober.

Florida Mental Health Act

The Florida Mental Health Act, also known as the Baker Act, allows involuntary institutionalization and examination of an individual. It can be initiated by judges, law enforcement officers, physicians, or mental health professionals. There are two pieces of evidence to enact it that include:

  • Possibly has a mental health illness
  • Is in danger of becoming a harm to self, harm to others, or is self-neglectful
  • The examinations can last up to 72 hours after a person is deemed medically unstable. Several outcomes can occur as a result of the law. The individual can be released back into the community, be petitioned for involuntary inpatient placement, involuntary outpatient placement, or voluntary treatment.
  • When someone is taken into custody against their will, it can be a frightening experience for themselves and their family members. The examination that must take place must include that abnormalities of thought, mood or behavior due to non-psychiatric causes have been ruled out.

Tests conducted to rule out ailments include:

  • TSH (thyroid test)
  • CBC (complete blood count)
  • SGOT (liver function test)
  • Serum albumin
  • Serum calcium
  • Vitamin B12
  • Urinalysis
  • 12-panel drug test

How to Find a Quality Rehab Program

It’s a fact that not all drug treatment programs are created equally. As we’ve mentioned, the rise in fraudulent rehab centers has sparked controversy, leading to the implementation of the laws that have been discussed. If you have decided to take the step and commit to a better life, you need to understand what a bad treatment center can look like. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Generic websites or advertisements that don’t clearly identify what the site offers. They are trying to collect phone numbers and email addresses.
  • Facilities that offer to pay for travel. If someone is offering to pay for travel, you must contact your insurance company to confirm that the representative you are speaking to is an actual employee. In some cases, paying for travel is illegal.
  • Someone who is offering to pay for insurance coverage or to waive co-pays or deductibles.
  • Daily or near-daily lab tests that cost thousands

Questions you must ask:

  • Does the facility have a medical director on staff?
  • Are the doctors certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)?
  • Do the treatment centers provide medical needs for mental health issues or diseases?
  • Are licensed staffers available 24 hours?
  • Does the facility offer an alumni program?
  • Is the facility in-network?

These are essential do’s and don’ts when deciding on a facility. You are taking the step for a better life, not an action that can make it significantly worse and cause your addiction to spiral from inept owners looking to make a dollar. Fortunately, the laws have taken care of a good chunk of the inadequate facilities statewide, but that doesn’t mean some don’t exist. Take the initiative to know what you need and apply it to your decision.

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