GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) - A Greenwood man's indictment last week has a lot of people questioning the regulations and certifications surrounding rehab facilities in South Carolina.
Taylor Hull was arrested on several charges, including drug trafficking. After his indictment, it was found he's been accused of distributing heroin and other drugs while owning and operating a recovery home for addicts called "Second Chance Ministries."
FOX Carolina started digging and quickly found out, shockingly, there is no regulation or certification needed to open a halfway house in South Carolina and those in the business say it's not at all uncommon for drug dealers to be taking advantage of recovering addicts.
Mike Todd often pops into the bedrooms at Freedom House of Greenville. He's proud the beds are filled knowing the men staying there need a big hand up. He's passionate because he was once just like them.
"I started drinking when I was about 8 or 9 years old so, by the time I'm 15 or 16 I'm in full-blown substance abuse disorder and so I go to my mother,” Todd said. “I remember her flipping through the yellow pages and going ‘Can you help, can you help him?’ And we didn't have any insurance.”
He eventually got into a treatment center and when he got out he realized he had nowhere to go. His mom wouldn't let him come back home.
"I ended up in a condo in Myrtle Beach of all places with some guys and we were all trying to do the same and that was to stay clean and sober,” Todd said. “I believe if I did not have that accountability I wouldn't be here today.”
He believes his situation saved his life. With someone five years clean and sober living in the condo with him, he learned to follow his every rule and is now 28 years sober.
"If someone's had a needle in their arm since they were 15 and they're now 35 or a crack pipe in their hand since 15 and they're now 35 they need a lot help,” Todd said.
Later in life he turned his passion into helping others. He opened up Freedom House of Greenville which is a tightly run ship, but he's learned over the years some other recovery homes open for a different reason.
"Executive directors or directors selling drugs to residents, there's definitely been some of that,” Todd said.
When he heard about the arrest of Hull, the Greenwood owner he said he felt sick.
"It angers me, it upsets me but I'm not going to quit and I'm not going to be quiet,” Todd said.
He said it's happening more than people realize, so he started a nonprofit pledging to help combat the issue. He said the biggest problem is the certification process simply doesn't exist.
"Anybody can rent a house or buy a house in your neighborhood in anyone's neighborhood and operate a recovery residence,” Todd said. “They can just pass out cards to a detox center and start getting referrals."
Todd is the President of the South Carolina Alliance for Recovery Communities made up of others who are just as passionate as he is. They said right now if something is happening in a home there's nowhere for patient's to turn.
"If someone's being abused in one of these places, if someone's selling them drugs I mean we have authorities but who can they go to?” Todd said. “And that's what we've got to change."
He calls it separating the good apples from the bad apples. He said it's happening so often because recovering addicts are vulnerable and there's no state regulation making a recipe for exploitation.
"I can tell you there are guys walking around here a year or two years sober that are staying here because they want to help the next guy dragging a trash bag full of clothes in,” Todd said.
He said he doesn't believe there needs to be full regulation, but the certification process is dire. He said right now his alliance is pushing for it by the end of the year.
They're working on having a list of certified professionals that have been drug tested that treatment centers can then reference and give recommendations to their patients when they're ready to leave.