What to Know
Overdose deaths in NY state are up 68 percent in New York from 2011 to 2015; they're also up in NJ and in Connecticut
Some experts unregulated sober living homes, where addicts go after rehab to stay sober, are fueling the problem
“It’s a free for all,” said Jeffrey Reynolds, of the Family and Children's Association
Lawmakers are calling on New York State to issue new regulations to protect drug addicts trying to get their lives back together at sober homes.
Suffolk County legislators introduced a bill Wednesday that would cut public funding from two sober home operators that they deem to be problematic.
Legislator Kate Browning was joined by other legislators and advocates from the recovery community when she announced a bill that would stop Department of Social Services payments to Cion Solutions and Solutions House -- two sober home operators in her district.
"This is going to ask social services to stop payments to these particular homes based on the complaints we have received," Browning said.
A sober home is supposed to be a safe place for recovering addicts to live, and learn to lead a clean, drug free life. But drug overdose deaths have jumped 68 percent in New York state in the past five years, according to federal data, and drug addiction experts told the I-Team they think a lack of regulation around sober living homes is driving the problem.
A few months ago, the I-Team visited Solutions House. Suffolk Police records show they had responded to the home 30 times since 2015. Back then the owner told us he was doing his best and that he did regular drug testing.
Today the Suffolk County bill calls the housing provided by these two companies as "substandard" and rife with "overcrowding." They also say the homes are taxing emergency providers.
"I'm trying to get the state to listen, you have to regulate," Browning said. "There are too many young people dying"
Dave Sardello, the owner of Solution House, confronted Browning, who held a news conference in front of his house.
"What makes it not safe? You have numerous complaints but you never actually came here," Sardello said.
David Cion, who owns Cion Solutions and several other sober homes, told the I-Team: "I have no idea of any complaints or any problems. And I tried contacting Ms. Browning but she has not returned my calls"
Sardello challenged what legislators were saying, and introduced the I-Team to women who live in his home, including a house manager who didn't want to give her name.
The woman said she knows CPR, but doesn't know how to use Narcan.
"I've never been shown how to do it," she said.
Life-saving skills like training in the use of Narcan aren't necessary when opening or running a sober home.
"I will work with anyone who wants to come from the local government and take any suggestions they have," Browning said.
County legislators are hopeful the bill will pass, and if it does, they say the Department of Social Services must enforce the law.