A discussion unfolding in the city of Salem, Mass., illustrates the balancing act that promoters of recovery residences must engage in—fighting public discrimination against the neighborhood homes while also raising the bar on quality among their operators.
The Boston Globe reported last week that Salem officials are exploring how best to respond to concerns about the largely unregulated sober homes in their community. Two deaths have occurred among residents of one Salem home since last November, and police are looking into reports that one of the bodies was moved from the home in an attempt to conceal where the death occurred.
City leaders are discussing how to proceed, and some appear to be taking a middle ground in the debate; the city already houses about a dozen recovery homes of various types. “We can’t just ban these houses because there are people that legitimately use them,” City Council member Michael Sosnowski said in the newspaper article. “At the same time these houses are being abused by people that like to play the system. We need to establish a set of rules and guidelines.”
It is no wonder that the newly formed National Association of Recovery Residences (NARR) has spent so much time crafting and disseminating operating standards for recovery homes. Clearly this growing component of the continuum of care needs a good roadmap to benefit all members of the community.