Orange County, like much of the country, is home to a worsening addiction crisis, but many of those living here seem to not only not want to be part of the solution that addresses the root causes of this but also want to harm an important part of the solution that does exist. One of the more interesting reads on this topic was written by Matt Coker for OC Weekly: “Why OC Must Lose the ‘War’ on Sober-Living Homes.”
The main issue is that many citizens and politicians are not bothering with trying to target the insurance industry and pharmaceutical companies who often play pivotal roles in people getting addicted but are instead focusing their efforts on closing down OC sober living homes even though the vast majority of them do not present any sort of issues for neighbors. One especially ironic aspect of this popular viewpoint is that these houses, which are where many are recovering from their addictions or, at the very least, doing everything within their power to do so, are being targeted by so many critics while places that are home to people who are not at all trying to recover and are actively consuming drugs in those homes are less of a priority.
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The Start of the Opioid Crisis
Many believe that what caused this dramatic increase in the number of people taking drugs, especially opiates, dates back a few decades. Around 1980, pharmaceutical companies were generally run by scientists who had the consumers’ best interests at heart. Of course, they wanted to make money too, but that didn’t appear to be the driving force. However, that changed once the companies were given permission to advertise on television as many of them then brought in CEOs that were very focused on the business aspect of things and making as much money as possible. More importantly and dangerously, they also focused on continuing to make money. There is never enough with shareholders always demanding more. As a result, many of these companies have now fought to keep opiates in high use so that they can make more and more money, both in the short term and the long term.
Standard Length of Treatment for Opioid Addiction
One example of this focus on money is the discrepancy between how much time scientists and rehab operators say is necessary for somebody to recover from addiction and what the medical insurance companies are saying. According to the OC Weekly article, scientists believe that figure is 90 days while rehab operators say that it can be 120 days or even more depending on the specific circumstances and mindset of the person being admitted. Conversely, most insurance companies are dead set on it being 28 days. The only thing that this does is ensure that fewer people receive the full care that they need and soon return to being addicted.
So, instead of focusing the fight on them, what’s happening is something that is not really all that productive. For example, Coker described an OC community center that was packed with hundreds of people upset at how, according to them, those in OC sober living homes would “smoke, talk loudly, down Red Bulls all night and litter sidewalks with ciggy butts, condom wrappers and spent needles,” all of which are images of an extremely atypical if not fictional sober living home. The citizens were joined at the meeting by three visibly concerned state legislators.
Addiction is a Disease
Fortunately, for the most part, they do not have a legal leg to stand on. For one thing, drug and alcohol addiction has been determined to be a disease of the brain, which means that, as a disease, those suffering from it enjoy many rights. These include not being booted from their homes simply because they suffer from a disease. Another advantage is that many of the various legal changes that are being proposed need to apply to everybody. For example, somebody at that meeting at the community center had asked why they can’t bar smoking from sober living homes. The answer was that they’d need to then bar it from every single home.
However, one thing that they had been attempting to pass was an altering of the law that those owning sober living homes with no more than six beds get to enjoy the exact same rights as every other homeowner in that area to one in which a person could only own one such home statewide in order to enjoy those same rights. In other words, if somebody owned a sober living home with six beds in Laguna Niguel and an identical one in Eureka, that would be six beds too many, and a state license or possibly a conditional use permit would be necessary in order to operate those houses if the alteration of that law passed.
OC Sober Living Homes: “Not in My Backyard.”
Sadly, all of this is a clear case of Nimby, the not in my backyard phenomenon, in that most of those complaining about sober living homes are not against them in general; they are just against them being located in their communities. However, some of the most noticeable exceptions to this rule are parents of children who have died from excessive drug use. A group formed in the southern portion of the county has worked hard to do things such as decriminalize the act of finding and helping someone who’s overdosed.
It should also be noted that many of those opposing these homes say that they’re worried about their children. A significant number of people who are taking advantage of the services that are being offered by sober living homes are those children who they care about so much.
If you or a loved one is in need of a sober living home, feel free to contact Ocean Hills Recovery, and we will provide the appropriate treatment and care.