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What is a Recovery Residence?

Recovery residences are safe, healthy, family-like substance-free living environments that support individuals in recovery from addiction.

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While recovery residences vary widely in structure, all are centered on peer support and a connection to services that promote long-term recovery. Recovery housing benefits individuals in recovery by reinforcing a substance-free lifestyle and providing direct connections to other peers in recovery, mutual support groups and recovery support services.

Substance-free does not prohibit prescribed medications taken as directed by a licensed prescriber, such as pharmacotherapies specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of opioid use disorder as well as other medications with FDA-approved indications for the treatment of co-occurring disorders.    -SAMHSA

Common Characteristics of WAQRR/NARR Accredited Recovery Residences

Policies in residences vary greatly depending on the level of care being provided, recovery philosophy of the residence operator, and the people being served.  However, there are some common policies that you’ll find in most, if not all, residences.  Here is a list of what accredited residences are required to provide in the way of policies and practices:

  • A written mission that reflects a commitment to those served and identifies the population served which, at a minimum, includes persons in recovery from a substance use disorder.

  • Attainment of appropriate legal entity status

  • The residence is comfortable, inviting, and meets residents’ needs.

  • Sleeping rooms are at least 50 square feet per bed

  • There is at least one sink, one shower, and one toilet per resident.

  • The environment is healthy and safe.

  • Operators must use ethical marketing practices—truth in advertising.

  • Operators must have the ability to account for resident payment history

  • Operators must have a process that requires a written resident agreement prior to committing to terms that includes the following:

    • Resident rights

    • Financial obligations and agreements

    • Services provided

    • Recovery goals

    • Relapse policies

  • Policies regarding removal of personal property left in the residence

  • Residents are involved in governance.

  • Residents are involved in a developmental approach to recovery—residents are recognized for progress and grow in responsibility the longer they stay.

  • Residence leadership roles are written and well defined.


If a residence is staffed:

  • Staff have clear written job descriptions and are evaluated.

  • Staff model and teach recovery behaviors

  • Staff are supported in maintaining good boundaries and self-care

  • Staff are trained according to the level of care offered in the residence.

  • Staff are prepared for emergencies including fire, return to use, and overdose.

​In their neighborhoods residences:

  • Cultivate the residents’ sense of belonging and responsibility for community.

  • Maintain policies that are responsive to neighbor concerns

  • Maintain courtesy rules regarding noise, smoking, profanity, and parking that make for good neighbor relationships.

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