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Legislation On Recovery Residences Advances to Senate

Democratic Del. Chris Hurst is sponsoring legislation to set up a certification process for recovery residences in the state. Craig Carper/WCVE News

Virginia’s opioid epidemic continues to grow. In response, lawmakers are working to improve one pathway to recovery through temporary supportive housing known as recovery residences. Right now in Virginia, there’s no definition or standards for recovery residences.

Democratic Del. Chris Hurst has a bill in to put those standards in place, and set up a process for voluntary certification through the state’s department of behavioral health. “And there are some bad actors out there,” Hurst said. “Frankly, there are some scam operations out there that are taking people's money without first dealing with the addiction itself.”

The bill also requires the behavioral health department to post a list of certified recovery residences on their website. Hughes Melton is the department’s director. “It does two things: It lets family members, individuals seeking care, community service boards, law enforcement… it lets them know where they are,” Melton said. “And it also gives them a certain amount of peace of mind about the quality of the services that a particular provider provides.”

Hurst’s bill passed in the House Tuesday, and now heads to the Senate.

Rhonda Thissen with Virginia’s National Alliance on Mental Illness says the legislation is a good start, but she’d like to see state licensing a requirement, not an option. “The bottom line is people need to be in a safe and secure and supportive environment,” Thissen said. “We would like to see some health and safety standards for these places so that we know that vulnerable people are not going to be abused.”

Megan Pauly reports on early childhood and higher education news in Virginia