Table of contents
- How do sober living homes work?
- A brief history of sober living homes
- What is accreditation for sober living homes?
- Why is it important for a sober living home to be accredited?
- State accreditation and certifications for sober living homes
- How are sober living homes accredited?
- How can I tell if a sober living home is a credible and trustworthy organization?
- Eudaimonia Recovery Homes is committed to your health, healing, and recovery
If you or a loved one is searching for a sober living program, you’ve likely wondered how you should determine the trustworthiness and credibility of a sober living home. One of the primary ways you can determine whether a sober home is credible or trustworthy is by assessing its accreditation.
So, how are sober living homes accredited and what does that mean?
Accreditation for sober living homes is somewhat of a new concept, but it is becoming more common. Currently, sober homes are not federally regulated and many states don’t have regulations or licensure requirements either. However, some state-level organizations offer accreditation through formal programs. These programs ensure sober homes are meeting codes of ethics, general standards, and health and safety guidelines.
In this blog, we’ll provide more details to help you understand what sober living homes are, how and why they are accredited, and what to look for in a sober living home.
How do sober living homes work?
Many people who struggle with addiction end up homeless due to financial problems, eviction, or broken relationships with family and friends. Not surprisingly, even for those who work the steps of the 12-Step Program, staying sober can be a struggle without secure and safe housing.
Sober living homes are structured living spaces that are free from drugs and alcohol. They provide safe, affordable, and supportive housing for people in recovery and are financially sustained through resident fees. Sober living homes are especially beneficial for individuals who lack support at home or who were recently incarcerated because they often provide employment assistance, volunteer placement, educational planning, and drug testing, which helps residents establish a stable life after they complete addiction treatment.
Most sober living homes do not provide formal addiction treatment services like behavioral therapy, but residents must meet certain requirements and adhere to rules to maintain their residency at a sober home, such as:
- Attending self-help groups such as 12-Step Program meetings (often strongly encouraged or required)
- Complying with all house rules
- Paying rent and other fees
- Contributing to household chores
- Attending regular house meetings
- Maintaining sobriety and completing drug tests
In most instances, residents may continue to live at a sober home as long as they comply with the rules and maintain their sobriety.
At sober living homes, residents are also encouraged to develop a social network in which they provide mutual support and encouragement to their peers and housemates in recovery. Not surprisingly, they are also encouraged to avoid old friends, acquaintances, and dealers that they used to use drugs or drink with.
Typically, the residents who have been sober the longest are encouraged to provide support to new residents and serve as mentors. This selfless behavior is consistent with the principle of giving back to your community, which is strongly emphasized in the 12-Step Program.
A brief history of sober living homes
The earliest sober living homes were run by religious groups, beginning in about the 1830s. After WWII, rates of alcoholism increased and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was born. During the 1970s, a lack of affordable housing in big, growing cities pushed many of the existing sober living homes out, even as the need for them grew due to increasing rates of drug and alcohol abuse among Americans. This ongoing need for more sober living homes continues today.1
Overall, during the second half of the 20th century, several different types of sober living homes were introduced to the public in response to the growing need, including Oxford Houses. These were self-sustaining sober living homes that primarily emphasized peer support and a democratic system among residents.
Since then, many different types of sober living homes have been developed and established by various individuals and organizations.
Although sober homes originated in California, facilities that are not affiliated with associations or coalitions are not formally monitored. Therefore, it’s impossible to say exactly how many sober living homes currently exist in the state of California and elsewhere in the United States.2 Regardless, it is safe to say that their existence is rapidly growing as the need for sober living homes continues to increase.
What is accreditation for sober living homes?
Accreditation for sober homes ensures that the facility meets certain health standards and adheres to an established code of ethics.
Accreditation for sober living homes is somewhat of a new concept, but now that more sober living homes are being established, more organizations are creating accreditation programs for these types of recovery residences.
According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, at least 10 different states have enacted legislation to improve the quality of recovery housing, and other states introduced legislation or regulation in 2018. Other localities have also established laws to strengthen protections for sober homes.3
Sober home accreditation is currently not mandatory in the U.S. so the degree of monitoring and regulation varies from home to home. Since sober living homes do not provide formal addiction treatment services, state regulations that apply to addiction treatment do not apply to them. However, sober homes that provide any type of regulated medical treatment (such as behavioral therapy) must have the appropriate state licenses.
In 2011, the National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR) made history by establishing a national standard for recovery residences. These principles were created in response to several high-profile cases in which recovery residence providers committed fraud for personal gain. They outline a clear set of essential elements for properly operated sober homes that people in recovery should demand.4
The NARR standards and principles for sober living homes (also called recovery residences) include:
- Operating with integrity
- Upholding residents’ rights
- Creating a culture of empowerment where residents engage in governance and leadership
- Developing staff abilities to apply the social model
- Providing a home-like environment
- Promoting a safe and healthy environment
- Facilitating active recovery and recovery community engagement
- Modeling prosocial behaviors and relationship enhancement skills
- Cultivating the residents’ sense of belonging and responsibility for community
- Being a good neighbor
NARR certification is not mandatory for sober homes, but the organization itself licenses affiliate organizations to certify sober homes that meet the national standard.
Why is it important for a sober living home to be accredited?
Since sober living home accreditation is currently voluntary, you might be wondering why a sober home would be motivated to achieve certification from an affiliate of the NARR.
In short, sober home accreditation shows that the home’s management and owners care about the health and well-being of their residents and are committed to providing outstanding care and excellence.
Sober home accreditation also bolsters current and future residents’ confidence that the management and owners will abide by a strict code of ethics and continue to provide a safe, healthy living environment for the people in recovery who live there. In turn, this also provides peace of mind for residents’ families and loved ones who want to see them succeed in sobriety.
State accreditation and certifications for sober living homes
Several prominent umbrella organizations provide quality assurance and regulatory oversight for sober living homes in the U.S. Although some state organizations provide formal certification or accreditation for sober homes that meet certain standards, not all do.
The National Alliance of Recovery Residences (NARR) has a certification system of nationwide standards for sober homes. However, only some states have recovery residence organizations that are affiliated with NARR and may offer formal certifications based on NARR’s standards.
Currently, state-level organizations that are associated with NARR include:5
- California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals
- The Sober Living Network
- Illinois Association of Extended Care
- Pennsylvania Alliance of Recovery Residences
- Georgia Association of Recovery Residences
- Florida Association of Recovery Residences
- Texas Recovery Oriented Housing Network
- Ohio Recovery Housing
- Indiana Affiliation of Recovery Residences
- Michigan Association of Recovery Residences
- Connecticut Alliance of Recovery Residences
- North Carolina Association of Recovery Residences
- Virginia Association of Recovery Residences
- Minnesota Association of Sober Homes
- New Jersey Alliance of Recovery Residences
- Ocean State Coalition of Recovery Homes
- Utah Association of Recovery Residences
- Colorado Association of Recovery Residences
- Missouri Coalition of Recovery Support Providers
- Tennessee Association of Recovery Residences
- Maryland Association of Recovery Residences
- Massachusetts Alliance for Sober Housing
- Maine Association of Recovery Residences
- Washington Alliance for Quality Recovery Residences
- Vermont Association of Recovery Residences
- Arizona Recovery Housing Association
- New Hampshire Coalition of Recovery Residences
- Kentucky Recovery Housing Network
- South Carolina Alliance for Recovery Residences
How are sober living homes accredited?
Sober living homes are accredited by completing certain requirements that are set forth by the accrediting organization.
Depending on the certifying organization, accreditation requirements for sober living homes will vary. For example, some sober homes may be required to do things like:
- Complete regular inspections to ensure that:
- Residents are maintaining their sobriety
- The sober home is clean, free of pests, and safe (smoke detectors in working condition, no structural damage, etc.)
- The home blends into the surrounding community
- Complete management and staff training
- Verify that policies and procedures are being implemented regularly
- Complete audit and grievance inspections without advance notice
Accreditation requirements like staff training and regular inspections ensure that operators of sober living homes are adhering to the national standards set forth by the NARR or other organizations.
How can I tell if a sober living home is a credible and trustworthy organization?
Unfortunately, in some instances, the owner and operator of a sober living home may be running a recovery residence just to make money, even if that means taking advantage of vulnerable residents who are struggling to overcome substance use disorders.
Not only does this type of situation create an unhelpful living environment, but it can also cause setbacks that can lead to relapse or contribute to mental health problems.
If you are searching for a sober home for yourself or a loved one, it’s helpful to be familiar with the accreditation information and guidelines listed above so you can verify the credibility of a sober living home yourself.
When you find a sober home that you think might be a good fit for you, you should always ask the management or admissions team about the following things before you commit to residency:
- Is this sober home affiliated with any regulatory organizations?
- Is this sober home certified? (This will only be applicable in states where certification is available.)
- What kind of structure and rules are in place here and how are the rules enforced?
- Does this sober home offer state-licensed programs like therapy or drug testing?
- What kind of social support is offered at this sober home?
- What happens if a resident breaks the rules?
- What kind of admission requirements are there?
Eudaimonia Recovery Homes is committed to your health, healing, and recovery
We know that choosing a sober living home is not easy and there are many factors to consider before making a decision. Accreditation is one important factor that can help you make a confident and informed decision when the time comes.
At Eudaimonia Recovery Homes, we practice what we preach. Our management and staff are committed to providing each resident with an empowering, safe, and sober environment with access to essential recovery support services to enhance long-lasting sobriety.
Our sober living homes are associated with the following well-known and respected organizations to ensure that we are held accountable to these commitments:
- NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals
- National Alliance for Recovery Residences
- Texas Recovery Oriented Housing Network (TROHN)
- Texas Association of Addiction Professionals (TAAP)
You can read more about our associations with these organizations or call (512) 363-5914 to speak with a Eudaimonia admissions representative today to learn more about our sober living homes and recovery support services.