How do patients know if an addiction recovery center gets results? In Ohio, answers are hard to find

Posted at 11:36 AM, May 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-09 11:36:45-04

Addicts across Ohio go to recovery centers with the hopes of leading a sober and productive life after treatment, but Ohio doesn't have any regulations in place to actually ensure addicts get the right treatment to stay sober.

Brandi Gillen's recovery home is certified by Ohio Recovery Housing, proving it meets the organization's guidelines for care. But Brandi has been in other homes where she says drugs and alcohol were easy to get, making recovery even harder.

"I went through the day thinking about when I was going to drink again and then, 'Well, I'll stay sober today and maybe next week, I'll get drunk,'" said Gillen.

All the structure and support that helps Brandi stay sober is also what made Joe Painter seek out an Oriana House facility in Akron, also accredited by Ohio Recovery Housing. He is recovering from opioid and alcohol abuse and says he's heard about the places where recovery doesn't seem to be the priority.

"It's either stay there and deal with it or go to the streets," said Painter. "Which one are you going to do?"

News 5 found that facilities that treat Ohio's recovering addicts aren't subject to any state or county regulations that require quality care to stay open. They are subject only to housing and zoning laws in local municipalities. Some counties adopt Ohio Recovery Housing's standards of care and withhold taxpayer funding from any facility that isn't accredited, but the homes are still allowed to stay open.

Ohio Recovery Housing's voluntary certification process is the only way in Ohio to know if a recovery home provides the care they claim to. The state doesn't play any role in making sure the people trying to stay sober get the help they need.

"They are terribly vulnerable," said Briermost Foundation Executive Director Erin Helms. "Being able to mandate that operators adhere to the quality standards would help protect the most vulnerable population out there outside children."

Helms says Ohio does a good job outlining in state code what recovery homes should do. But those guidelines are only suggestions and there is no one making sure those standards are met.

"You need a governmental entity to set the standards, make sure everybody is playing by the same rules," said Oriana House Executive Vice President Bernie Rochford.

Helms says recovery homes have operated out of public view for many years because of the stigma associated with the addicts they help. She feels like that kept lawmakers from wanting to get involved in setting up statewide standards.