Florida rehab programs, recovery residences face extra regulation from new law


FILE – In this May 6, 2019 photo file photo an injection drug user, deposits used needles into a container at the IDEA exchange, in Miami. National data is incomplete, but available information suggests U.S. drug overdose deaths are on track to reach an all-time high. Addiction experts blame the pandemic, which has left people stressed and isolated, disrupted treatment and recovery programs, and contributed to an increasingly dangerous illicit drug supply. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, Fie)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A new Florida law creates criminal penalties for fraud made by operators of substance abuse programs and sets rules for how recovery residences are classified.

Under SB 804, new penalties have been put in place for making false representations or omitting facts when applying for licenses to be a service provider. The new law also requires the Florida Department of Children and Families to suspend licenses of providers under certain circumstances.

It will now be a third-degree felony to falsify or withhold information on applications to be licensed as a substance abuse service provider. When the service providers operate directly by, or under contract with, a state agency, they have to be licensed by the DCF.

Providers licensed by DCF must not be subject to penalties for false information or withholding material facts when applying for licensure.

Going forward, the law also authorizes DCF to suspend licenses for a service provider if they fail to pay administrative fines and interest for disciplinary actions taken by the department within 60 days.

Additionally, the law mandates that service providers pay fines and interest from violations of patient referral prohibitions within 60 days of a date set by DCF, or they could also have their license suspended.

SB 804 also makes it so that single- or two-family dwellings that are turned into certified recovery residences does not have a change of occupancy due to being converted into a recovery facility. Homeowners who make their houses into recovery residences are still the legal occupants, according to the law.

For the sake of enforcing Florida Fire Prevention Code, those dwellings-turned-recovery residences may not be reclassified, and will retain their status as single-family or two-family dwellings.

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