DC Rehabbers Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide

By Jennifer Matesa 09/29/11

Forty-three patients and staff went through retox thanks to a clogged vent at Washington's Second Genesis rehab.

The sealed-off street nearby Photo via

Addicts may often enter rehab more or less poisoned, but they rarely expect to exit hurriedly in a far worse condition. Forty-three residents and staff members of a Washington, DC drug-treatment facility were evacuated and taken to hospital Tuesday to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning—with three of them described as being in serious but non-life-threatening conditions. Emergency responders found several people with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as a “high level” of carbon monoxide in the building, owned by Silver Spring–based rehab Second Genesis. The facility, located in the Columbia Heights neighborhood, accommodates 33 residents and 10 staff members. Second Genesis is a nonprofit abstinence-based treatment center with four locations in the District and Maryland, which has been in operation for more than 40 years. The source of the gas in the three-story facility was a clogged hot water boiler vent that had collapsed due to “recent extreme rain events,” according to a statement released by the rehab. Authorities have "deemed [the building] safe for re-occupancy" pending repairs, said the statement.

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Jennifer Matesa is a Voice Award Fellow at the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and is the author of the blog Guinevere Gets Sober. She is the author of several books, including the non-fiction, The Recovering Body, about physical and spiritual fitness for living clean and sober. You can find Jennifer on Linkedin or follow her on Twitter.