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Recovery homes group will establish operating standards

September 18, 2011
by Gary Enos
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The National Conference on Addiction Disorders (NCAD) will serve as the backdrop for a groundbreaking development in the history of recovery home programs. At its inaugural meeting this Tuesday, Sept. 20, the National Association of Recovery Residences (NARR) expects to adopt a first-ever national standard for the operation of sober residences that have become an integral part of the addiction treatment continuum.

“There’s never been a national standard for recovery residences,” says Beth Fisher, executive director of the Georgia Association of Recovery Residences and one of NARR’s initial organizers. Fisher says the standards document that NARR leaders will consider will establish a four-level system of definitions for recovery residences, ranging from sober homes at level 1 to residential treatment facilities at level 4. “This will be a concrete placement where recovery residences can define themselves,” says Fisher.

The Tuesday meeting at NCAD will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Sunrise Room, and is open to anyone with interest in recovery residences. Ten charter organizational members of the association will be formally inducted into NARR at the meeting.

This meeting marks the one-year anniversary of the initial formation activity for NARR, an idea that surfaced in a discussion between Fisher and a colleague at last year’s NCAD meeting. Leaders from Georgia, Michigan and Connecticut engaged in the initial planning activity, and Fisher says that since then representatives of about 15 to 20 states have had some involvement.

Not all states have statewide organizations representing recovery residences, and fewer still have any written standards that residences can adopt for their operations and any clinical services. Fisher and other leaders believe this has hurt the credibility of the industry as a whole, as the quality of residential aftercare options is seen as running the gamut from the full-fledged professionally managed residence to the flophouse.

Fisher says that in the process of drafting the national standards, NARR leaders drew from existing standards in the small handful of states that do have guidelines. “We’ve taken the best of all of them, and created some of our own,” she says.

Few issues created a great deal of controversy in the discussion, she adds. The group decided to address smoking in the standards by stating that smoking should not be allowed in the living areas of a residence; policies governing smoking vary widely from facility to facility around the country.

Fisher says it was important to include residential treatment centers under NARR’s umbrella in order to encourage smoother transitions/stepdowns from one level of care to another in a residential continuum. “The feedback we’ve gotten has been only favorable,” she says.

For more information about NARR, visit

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Gary Enos

Contributing Editor

Gary Enos

Gary A. Enos has been the editor of ...

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