By Teri Sforza
Excerpted from the Orange County Register
After a delirious Henry Lehr bolted from a licensed Newport Beach detox in the middle of an August night and broke into a neighbor’s house, he was shot and killed by the frightened homeowner inside.
Deaths like these aren’t uncommon in the rehab industry, where lax regulation runs head-on with the high-stakes illness of addiction.
Many in Sacramento are pushing — yet again — to change that. Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach, and other lawmakers have been battling to reform California’s troubled private, for-profit addiction treatment industry for years, and have passed many new laws to that end. But on the street little seems to have changed. Petrie-Norris plans to hold official feet to the fire at an Accountability and Administrative Review Hearing at 11 a.m. Monday, Dec. 13.
“It came to a head with the terrible tragedy at the Gratitude Lodge facility,” Petrie-Norris said, referencing the detox Lehr left before being shot in the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 26. “That is really the worst possible nightmare outcome, but sadly, one that was not unanticipated. There were numerous complaints about this facility and it did not come as a surprise to the folks who had been living next door. I’ve had many, many neighbors describe a tragedy waiting to happen.”