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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : opinions : editorials January 25, 2015

9/20/2013 6:01:00 AM
Editorial: Rehab rules open the door to more
The Daily Courier

For some time now, we've been watching the proliferation of houses and apartments devoted to clients of the addiction recovery industry. Over the past few years, every time we asked officials what could be done about regulating - or even identifying - these homes, we were told that nothing was possible, that federal disability regulations prevented any intrusion into the business that has left Prescott known as "Arizona's Rehab City."

From the beginning and the advent of Prescott House, the term didn't sound like such a bad idea. A bit more commercialized than "Arizona's Christmas City" or "Everybody's Hometown," perhaps, but the addiction recovery industry glowed with the possibility of bringing professional counselors and advisers to town, folks who would do their magic on their clients, amidst the fantastic, cleansing environs of the Prescott area, then send them on home to their families in faraway places, thus bolstering the economy, providing jobs and healing the cravings of the addled masses.

Just one problem: It didn't really work.

Rehabbing addicts is better than government work, well, actually it's about the same. You get paid even if the treatment doesn't take, and the industry's average success rate is about 12 percent. So, thanks to very effective marketing and a growing number of treatment centers that became very competitive in their quest for new clients, more and more people with addiction problems came to Prescott, did their 30 days or their six months in the center and then moved on back home.

Oops, that part didn't work either because, after getting the first, inpatient phases of treatment, the clients go to group homes, once commonly known as halfway houses, as a way to ease their transition back into society. More and more, those homes are owned by folks other than the treatment providers and, in most of them, the punishment for failing to follow the rules is a boot out the door. That, of course, leaves our little town with a growing number of relapsed addicts, on their own with little or no resources, skills or ambitions.

To be fair, some of the treatment centers in town own and manage their own transitional housing and they do it well, making sure that the clients are good neighbors and don't cause the sorts of fear and loathing the bad actors have brought into several residential neighborhoods.

Which brings us to now, now that Prescott has found a way to do something about the problem, something they were convinced was impossible not long ago. It's very little, and very late, but it may open the door for even more regulation and accountability on the part of the landlords who let their tenants be a burden.

We get that it's hard to fight the federal regulations on group homes, but here's a thought: Put the onus on the treatment centers, and require them to provide the housing that their programs call for. That way, the entities responsible for these well-paying guests would be visible, identifiable and accountable for the behavior of their clients.

Then we could maybe be a proud rehab city, instead of a fed-up and fearful one.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Article comment by: J D

There is little factual basis for many of these complaints and accusations by our "concerned" citizens. Much of it is speculations, accusations and assumptions. I encourage any of you to visit a treatment center and ask to speak with a program director. I make up there is a lot of contempt prior to investigation. I work in the treatment field and see miracles happen regularly. How we can we deny someone the opportunity to recover from a seemingly hopeless condition? Today I am a man of integrity striving to better myself, my peers, and the clients I work with. What have you done for someone today, free of selfish motives?

Posted: Friday, September 27, 2013
Article comment by: Russian Roullette

Seems to me with all the mass shootings in our country the odds are stacked in favor or Prescott as being one of the next locations for such an incident. Just imagine of the addicts that decides to not take his psychoactive medications or one that's just having a bad day or a relapse. With all the addicts, drugs and guns on our streets its just a matter of when.

Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Article comment by: looking for a job

These folks have flooded the job market. If they are all required to look for a job,guess who won't be getting one. My son tired of putting in applications when told "they already had too many apps,sorry."

Posted: Sunday, September 22, 2013
Article comment by: thad stevens

Prescott is becoming the White Trash Capital of Arizona.

Too bad. It used to be a nice town.

And, don't blame outsiders. The damage was done by greedy local businessmen and their political connections.

Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Article comment by: Thorough Investigation Necessary!

Re @Christine re info of how rehab drug facilities get clients

One of the marketing targets by the facilities is to heavily advertise nationally to addict/families to come rehab in the pines in Prescott Az. and they import these criminal addicts from across the U.S.. Most addicts are under court order for rehab. Criminals.

Google "addiction rehab in Prescott Az". The internet is used heavily by the drug addict rehab facilities.

Parents that have given up on their drug addict offspring are more than willing to pay to send their addict across country to Arizona for a 'vacation" in the Pines. Then, the taxpayers of Prescott get stuck with them.

The addict facility owners should be legally/financially responsible for deporting addicts from the state of Arizona that break "house" rules. They now dump them on the street for the Prescott community to contend with and keep their money to boot!

This is a great situation for investigation and a national news story..get on it wanna be reporters it may be your claim to fame!

Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Article comment by: @ Christine Nelson

Your comments ring so true to me. As a social service worker in this area for years, I used to see this often. There was a large, well known home here in Prescott in which the manager was found overdosed and her child crawling around the room. And this was a home probation placed in-they don't know at the time anymore than anyone does if the staff or "managers" are using. Yes, many truly want help but as you said there is NO oversight in these places so the ones who really want help are not getting it, they are only being put in a living situation with many other people facing the same problems. So they often just end up using together and all going downhill even worse than before. Sad, but true.

Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Article comment by: Sue Victoria

COURIER - Thank you for your response. Perhaps you can UPDATE the information and amend & publish these articles from 2011 again for those of us who missed them back then? Also, not many people read these blogs, so most people in the community won't be aware that you gave a link as to where to find more comprehensive information about the rehab/recovery homes. This problem has obviously grown in epidemic proportion since 2011, so could you please update and republish this series of articles in the COURIER? You would be doing a great service to the community!

Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Article comment by: Response @ You Got That Right

Certain issues warrant people standing tall/being accountable for core values and what is right. Our forefathers did it…now it is our turn! Our parents and generations prior sacrificed, worked like dogs to build the U.S.A. into a productive, free speech country.

When any entity/person destroys the values, character, property values, lifestyle, threatens the public adult/child’s health/welfare/safety, in a small town like Prescott, it is time to unite and fight.

ACLU or an Eric Holder Court order be damned! A scholar attorney can outshine that obstacle. Time for the people of Prescott to stand their ground and fight.

No way is an entire generation or two of addicts that think the entire world owes them a party for the rest of their lives is going to prevail and destroy what people died and fought for, period.

Addicts want to see a war on drugs?…we have not yet begun to fight in Prescott! Don’t expect politically correct!

Document folks, write the Courier what your experiences are, call/write to city /state officials, fed. gov’t.

Remember location? Now, documentation, documentation, documentation. Keep logs, take videos, photos. We will win this battle.

Bless Christine get others to write letters re their experience in drug rehab.

Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Article comment by: Hoity Toity

Time to move far away from Prescott!

Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Article comment by: CC Colter

Good question-Who is paying for 'treatment"? Does insurance cover halfway houses? There are treatment centers with their own housing, the aftercare/out-patient facilities need the 130+ halfway houses.
Recently neighbors called the rental company when loud music and other activities began to disrupt daily living. Athough it took numerous calls said tenants were evicted by the next day. What's the responsibility to out of town or local homeowners when their renters are not respectable neighbors?

Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Article comment by: @Christine Nelson .

Thanks for the good information you provided. One additional question when you say "probation paid the intake fee" DID THE COURT PROBATION ALSO TELL YOU WHERE TO GO FOR YOUR TREATMENT, OR HOW DID YOU KNOW OR SELECT WHERE TO GO TO THAT CERTAIN HOUSE?? I'm just trying to understand HOW these houses obtain their residents.

Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Article comment by: Sue Victoria

A few days ago I wrote a letter to the editor asking that the COURIER publish a series of informative factual articles covering all aspects of the group/recovery home situation in Prescott. I still haven't heard anything back from the editors. I am hoping they take my suggestion and do this investigative reporting to help the community know all of the facts and thus enable us to find ways to solve this problem and do away with this for-profit "rehab industry" in Prescott before it gets any worse. Knowledge is power!
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Courier published a five-part series on this topic in 2011. Here is a link to the first story, which includes links to the entire series: http://www.dcourier.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&subsectionID=1086&articleID=94601

Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Article comment by: Susan Martin

Well now suddenly we're waking up!!!! Several months ago I commented on a young man from NJ that was not able to get into a drug program there and was actually told that if he had been a minority they could help him. A few months later he met the mother of a former friend and she advised him to call her son in Arizona since he had been into drugs. When he called he was told there would be no problem since Arizona takes many individuals with drug problems. He was given a name and phone number and VOILA he was then told by an official to "hop" on the next plane and they would pick him up at the airport and place him into a rehab program. Yes it is FACT since I do know the person and yes he did not have to pay any of the expenses. I can only hope that people will wake up since we are told that only 12% make it through the program...................WOW all that time, money.............how is that for investing your money!!!!!!

Let's stop advertising that Arizona can help all the drug/alcohol addicts.

Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Article comment by: @You Got That Right! .

Have you ever heard of the ACLU? They would be on you like flies on a dead cow if you "VERY PUBLICLY" went after specifically Rehab Huts. Additionally, DON'T BET on the outside World of Liberals to applaud you for attacking "those poor disabled drug addicts". Your idea is a bit too aggressive and may boomerang by garnering an Eric Holder Court Order to "leave them alone".

Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Article comment by: zoning commission?

The proliferation of these houses has blighted Prescott. Not only downtown, but virtually each and every park and shopping area in our community has been affected by this menace. Though we are gratified towards the recent attempts at putting the toothpaste in the tube, the issue has been a cancer on this community for years.

Though there are several commission members that have chosen to do little or nothing about the matter for eons, it is the commissions senior members that deserve the most scrutiny for the destruction this issue has brought to our community. Though it may have seemed a panacea to some landlords with vacancies in the day, it seems as if the City's only truly successful tourism effort, has been attracting people with tracks in their arms.

Here are the names of your zoning commission members, Tom Menser, Chairman, George Sheats
Ken Mabarak, Vice Chairman
Don Michelman, Joseph Gardner
Terry Marshall and Timothy Greseth. Mr. Menser and Mr. Mabarak by virtue of their positions and tenure are in particular, the fathers of this nightmare. Each voter outraged by this menace, needs to let each member know that even the recent feeble attempts are hardly enough.

Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Article comment by: Christine Nelson

Probation (pays intake fee), Insurance or the residents pay for the rehab stay. You are made to go out (on foot) no matter what kind of weather (snow, rain, 105 heat) and look for a job for 6 hours of the day. If you do not pay you get kicked out PERIOD!!! These homes are poorly managed, filthy and unsafe. I had the unfortunate opportunity (forced by probation) to live in a half way house in cottonwood. I was there 2 weeks and the house manager overdosed on soma's and the probation department, the DUI Court Judge and owner of the house (trailer) swept it under the rug and to go even further this house manager was recognized by probation in this very paper for being a success story just 1 week later. It is a scary system that is in place with no regulations. Anyone can start a Half Way House. This Half way house had no structure, most girls were using or drinking while there. They had no programs in place except to go to meetings 3 times a day and look for a job to pay your rent, you stayed in a room with 8 girls, 4 bunk beds and 1 bathroom. All for $590.00 a month which does not include food or necessities. Please acknowledge however that a majority of the people in rehab do want to change they just dont get the help or guidance they need. it has all turned into the almighty dollar/

Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Article comment by: You Got That Right!

@Class Action Suit
Put out the word on the internet and locally: The residents of Prescott need some pro bono community minded attorney's that are experts at class action lawsuits re zoning issues, property devaluation, destroying a communities lifestyle and defamation of the character of a town, etc.

Step up to the plate hot shot attorneys and get national recognition for "taking" on the rehab facilities in Prescott. This could be the highly publicized pro bono case of the century.

TV news channels, perhaps Money Magazine would do another article on the demise of a town by drug addicts. A huge rally could be held on the Courthouse Square.

Need volunteer help in gathering data, marketing the case, interviewing, researching, videos? Prescott has a productive volunteer base. Organize it and I'll be the first volunteer to sign up!

Get moving Prescott...we will clean up the town and the first step is getting rid of the drug addict facilities. No ifs, ands, buts or concessions.

Stop dignifying addict facilities by calling them 'group' homes! It is an insult to legitimate group homes for the elderly and disabled. “Group home" is a quasi tax dodge for the rehab facilities...how about calling them...DRUG ADDICT flop houses?

Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Article comment by: Class Action Lawsuit

Its time for the residents to take their property values back . Its time to sue . If Prescott's mediocre leadership can not do what other cities have done in terms of zoning , regulation , licensing to keep commercial business such as these out of residential neighborhoods then it is time to collectively put some money out there and make it happen . There is no grandfathering . You can stop a strip club but you cant stop 100 halfway houses scattered around the city that bring home values down for the entire city ??

Posted: Friday, September 20, 2013
Article comment by: Yes, Something Can Be Done

City Council/Attny/P&Z have no clue how to deal with the addict problem that they created.

Something can be done and the taxpayers will not let up on this issue until Prescott officials rids the town of the imported addicts.

First: A moratorium. Put the hammer down on existing facilities. Impose enormous fees for Lifeline//fire dept/police that assist the imported addicts. This is not the taxpayers burden.

Make it policy: Pay as you go by the drug facility for hospital costs for their addicts.

Policy: Huge impact fees for the facilities/addicts water and sewer use.

Each time an addict is picked up by the police, transport him/her to Camp Verde, no delivery back to facility. Policy: The facility pays the bill for jail time.

Businesses: Post signs “the right to refuse service to anyone“. Enforce it.

Fry's/Safeway/Walmart, etc., please make a huge effort to call the police on thieves when they steal items or consume foods unpaid for.

Until the community unites and quits pussy footing around with these facilities, the situation will stay the same or worsen.

When there is addict interference with your peace/quiet *disturbing the peace*, clogging your street with parking, in your neighborhood, call the police immediately.

Posted: Friday, September 20, 2013
Article comment by: What a Demographic Change For the Worse!

I was born and raised in Prescott, and grew up here in the 60s and 70s. We could play outside after dark, and when we went downtown, there weren't unsavory rehabbers and other flotsam loitering around the courthouse and Montezuma Street. It was a beautiful town, and one where families could raise their children in safety and trust. There are SIX (6) rehab or group home facilities in the mile radius surrounding my home. This is ridiculous. In the past weeks, there was a drowning and a stabbing in Granite Creek Park, which is now regarded as too dangerous to frequent. There needs to be a moratorium on these facilities, or else Prescott will continue to be known as The Unsavory Rehabber Capital of the Nation.

Posted: Friday, September 20, 2013
Article comment by: A Name Change Is Needed

We should now call ourselves, "Everybody's Half-Way Home Town."

Posted: Friday, September 20, 2013
Article comment by: Follow the Money

Some very connected people are in on the massive profits being made.

There can be no other explanation for the degradation of Prescott by the increasing addict population. The town has an incredible population of dropouts, flunkouts and kickouts. In addition, the few "successes" these mills turn out generally stay in Prescott, living on the fringes of society, committing petty crimes and making downtown look like Skid Row.

Posted: Friday, September 20, 2013
Article comment by: Ex Patriot

The trouble with putting the onus on treatment centers is that when treatment is court-ordered, failure is almost a foregone conclusion. Failure for the people being treated, that is. But the centers are accountable to the courts, not to the people they treat. And since the courts keep sending business their way, we can only assume that the centers are functioning exactly as desired. If you want a change, why not "put the onus" on lawmakers and law enforcers to prove that the laws they pass and enforce benefit someone besides themselves? Oh, and by the way, approximately 15 million Americans use illegal drugs on a fairly regular basis. Add to that the millions who use alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs, and you're literally surrounded by drug addicts. The people the editors want so badly for us to fear are only the ones who got caught. That's why drug testing is so crucial to the war effort -- because people who use illegal drugs look and act Just Like You.

Posted: Friday, September 20, 2013
Article comment by: Gary Leach

At the intersection of Willow and Gurley, where there are no crosswalks and limited sight distance on the east, two rehab facilities have taken the southeast and southwest corners and now clog the access to south Willow with parked cars at certain times of day—certain very busy times of day, traffic-wise. And here's even more fun: one of the facilities has clients who have just lately been housed directly across Gurley, on the northeast, so that at meeting times they are obliged to cross Gurley—where there is lots of traffic and, to reiterate, no crosswalks and poor visibility to (and from) the east. It is these sorts of setups that will need more attention, and soon, as they are irresponsible and dangerous.

Posted: Friday, September 20, 2013
Article comment by: Tongue-in-Cheek Follow the Money

A question I have neither heard ask, nor heard answered
Many, if not most of these homes are not cheap. IF we could track back to WHOM or WHAT ENTITY SOURCE is putting up the money to pay for the patient/residents. Is this a case of "a" government source funding rehab with tax money, or is this private money funding the individuals. As part of the registration process, Prescott needs to determine WHO'S money is paying the freight. AS and EXAMPLE WHAT IF, there may be government entities in CITIES outside OR IN Arizona with a contract with OUR REHAB centers in Prescott, to accept all their drug cases as a way to avoid their jails or an acceptable probation residence for early release from Prisons. IF we know "who" is sending these rehab cases to Prescott we may be able to stem the flow at the inception point.

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