Sober living facilities have long been an option for people working to overcome substance use disorder. These residential facilities offer a sober and supportive environment for someone to work on recovery without the triggers, temptations, and stresses of normal life.
While they can help people on their own or as part of a more extensive recovery program, they also vary broadly in their services and quality due to a lack of regulation. That is now changing with new standards to regulate this part of the addiction treatment industry.
What Is Bringing About New Accreditation Standards?
A new bill was passed in June 2018 by Congress that is the catalyst for these new sober living standards. The bill, H.R. 4684 or the Ensuring Access to Quality Sober Living Act of 2018, guides Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop best practices for recovery housing operation. This bipartisan bill was voted unanimously by the House.
Goals of this act are to:
- Inform patients, their family members, and facilities
- Prevent scams and fraud that happen at these facilities
- Address the opioid problem in the United States, which requires increased available, effective treatment options
Some sober living facilities, including halfway houses, also include rehabilitative treatment options or refer to treatment, such as individual or group counseling, peer support, and medication management. These facilities are seen as an important recovery option for many people. These new standards will help ensure that recovery residences are living up to the standards of other types of treatment facilities in the industry that are more regulated.
What Do These Standards Entail?
These new standards are based on the National Alliance for Recovery Residences, or NARR, standards. NARR provides a code of ethics, yet does not offer certifications but is aligned with subsidiaries that follow its code and provide certification. One example is the Florida Association of Recovery Residences or FARR.
NARR has established standards for recovery residences since 2011, with an updated version in 2015. Its standards were informed by collaboration with national and regional recovery housing organizations and experienced providers.
NARR provided a Code of Ethics in 2016 to guide recovery facilities, which will help inform the new government standards. This code included:
- Quality: Basic quality standards of a recovery residence that’s running properly
- Access: The matching of needs with proper care that addresses them
- Choice: Informed choices related to placement and resources
The new standards set forth in H.R. 4684 will:
- Allow government intervention to record data and set new rules
- Work to ensure the health and safety of patients
- Work to improve the recovery process for better outcomes
This new bill is a positive step in the recovery industry, helping to ensure that all forms of treatment follow specific standards of quality and effectiveness.