What is a recovery home?

Recovery housing is:

  • A family-like, shared living environment, which is
  • Free from alcohol and illicit drug use, and
  • Centered on peer support and connection to services, which
  • Promotes sustained recovery from substance use disorders

They go by different names (Oxford House™, sober home, sober living, halfway house, etc.), and their history can be traced back to the mid-1800s.

What regulations apply to recovery homes?

To the extent a recovery residence is residential treatment, it is regulated and licensed as residential treatment. To the extent that a recovery residence is housing, it is regulated just like any other household in the neighborhood.

Does a recovery home have to be certified to operate?

No. Certification must be voluntary in order to further fair housing rights.

That being said, funders and referral agents may require certification to promote quality and reduce liability.

If not legally required, why should I get my recovery home certified?

From a marketplace perspective, certification is cost effective means of promoting quality recovery housing options.

From a recovery residence provider perspective, certification can increase revenue, decrease liability and build on strengths.

  • Certification to national standards by a 3rd party is how consumers, funders, referral agents, the recovery community at large, neighbors and policy makers know that:
    • you are actually operating a recovery residence and not some other form of housing
    • you are using best practice that promote recovery outcomes
    • you are using best practices that protect the rights of the residents
    • you operate in accordance to applicable laws and codes of ethics
    • you participating in a system that rewards "good players" and starves out "bad players" in the marketplace
  • Plus, you don't know what you don't know. Many who complete the certification process remark, "I had not thought of that before". Having the appropriate policies, procedures and programs in place lowers risk.
  • "Carrots over sticks" -- Certification is a strength-based approach that reflects the process of recovery. It is a way for you to do a self assessment in order to identify what you are doing well and your opportunities for growth. Certification is about keeping quality recovery homes open as opposed to closing homes down.

Who develops or sets the standards?

The National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR) has and continues to curate best practices, which is the basis for the quality standards.

In the 1970s and 80s, regional provider organizations began forming to create regional and state standards and certification programs.

Fast forward to 2011, NARR formed and developed a national standard with the input of representatives from 15 different states.

In 2013, NARR and AHHAP merged, making NARR the largest and oldest organization of its kind. The NARR standards represent the collective wisdom from across the US and across time.

Who certifies a recovery residence?

The National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR) designates state affiliate organizations that are responsible for certifying recovery residences and administering a grievance process.

How much does certification cost?

Because the cost of certification is determined by the state affiliate organization, the price ranges from state to state. The cost must cover:

  • Reviewing the application and written documents including policies, procedures, house rules and resident agreements
  • Interviews with the owner/operator and staff
  • A site review of each property
  • Fees to the national organization
  • Staffing potential grievances
  • Overhead and indirect costs including liability insurance

For current pricing, contact your state affiliate. Affiliates can be found on NARR's website.

Do we have to re-certify?

In accordance to NARR's standards, Affiliates can choose to re-certify every year or every 2 years.

For example, Texas certifies every 2 years.

Are there scholarships or discounts available that can be used to offset the cost of certification?

To promote certification, a growing number of government agencies and foundations are working with NARR state affiliates to help offset the cost of recovery residence certification. Contact your state affiliate to see if there are scholarship funds available and eligibility requirements.