FALMOUTH (CBS) — Caleb Bethoney was healthy and full of hope when he left a treatment facility in Rhode Island after years of being addicted to heroin and other opiates.
Related: Opioid Addiction Recovery Resources
“He looked so good,” said his mother, Tuesday Desrosiers. “He was so excited because he was clean and seeing parts of himself that he hadn’t seen in a long time.”
To keep that success going, Caleb found a sober home on a quiet street in Falmouth. Tuesday remembers getting reassurances from the house manager.
“He said we have house meetings. We do urine tests. It’s a very structured environment,” she said, recalling the phone conversation with the manger.
But she had no idea what was really going on inside the home when she said goodbye after visiting Caleb there a few months later.
“He gave me a big hug and a kiss and that was the last time I saw him,” she said.
Caleb died of an overdose in March, not far from the sober house.
While going through his things, his mom was devastated when she read through his journal.
In an entry dated just a few weeks before his death, Caleb wrote: “My housemate Pat just overdosed in the bathroom I use every day. What kind of sober house am I living in? This is a freaking joke. I have no idea who to talk to about this.”
Part of the problem, according to Falmouth Police Chief Edward Dunne, is that there is no state or federal regulations when it comes to sober houses and they have been popping up all over the Cape Cod Community, often with little notice.
“Some people just open it up, call it a sober home and collect a couple hundred dollars a week from each person,” he said.
According to Chief Dunne, he often finds out about a new sober home when police are called to the address.
“Several times this year we have responded to those homes and discovered them because there has been an overdose in the home,” he said.
Chief Dunne says there are a number of sober homes in his community where residents have positive outcomes. These facilities follow a list of voluntary guidelines from the state, but Caleb’s home wasn’t one of them.
Tuesday now wants other families to be aware that this is an unregulated industry and she urges families to make sure they send loved ones to a home that adheres to those guidelines.
She spends many days wishing she had found a way to keep Caleb in a private treatment facility.
“I wish I would have remortgaged the house,” she said.
State and federal laws actually prohibit regulation of sober houses, because it would be discriminatory to restrict housing opportunities for those with disabilities.
However, Senator Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to the General Accountability Office asking for a review of these homes and how they impact this vulnerable population.
This is the fourth piece in a series of WBZ-TV reports on confronting the opioid crisis in Massachusetts.