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NARR: Setting the Standard

August 30, 2011
by Beth Fisher
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“Our community needs good halfway houses!!” This is a resounding chorus I hear whenever the topic of

recovery residences arises in conversation. Sadly, it is the questionably run homes that get plenty of negative attention, while those operating well run homes – much more the norm – receive little to no notice for their efforts. The term ‘halfway house’ itself raises negative connotations and uneasy feelings for recovery service providers making the referrals for continuing care/support.

Professionals as well as individuals search for ‘sober homes’ with trepidation. Strong concerns are raised with these common questions:

1. What kind of structure does the home provide?

2. Does the home do what it says it will?

3. What is the relapse policy?

And the underlying concern…

4. Is this just a flop house?


Until now, there has been no uniform standard for recovery residences (preferred term over halfway house, ¾ house, sober home, etc. More on that in future blogs). The lack of universally held standards for a field that encompasses many thousands of providers throughout our country is nothing less than shocking.

NARR (The National Association of Recovery Residences) seeks to remedy this void. Since November 2010, a dynamic, experienced group of recovery service providers from across the United States have met by conference call and in person to create a national standard for recovery residences. Thousands of collective hours have been invested in the creation of standards that address operations, staffing, property, and structure/ programming. We believe these standards will prove to be a tremendous asset to the field – recovery residence operators will finally have ethical, universally held protocol for operation – a gauge. Referral sources will be comforted and confident that their ongoing care plan is a sound one if the home operates with standards. Most importantly, the individuals we serve can seek homes with a measure of security that has never before been available.

The inaugural meeting for NARR will be held September 20, 2011 at the National Conference on Addiction Disorders in San Diego (NCAD 2011). We will be formally introducing a national standard for recovery residences during this meeting, as well as inducting charter members. We invite you to be a part of the rapidly evolving movement for standards.

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Beth Fisher Sanders

CEO/Executive Director, Hope Homes Recovery

Beth Fisher Sanders


Beth Fisher Sanders has been working in the field of addictions recovery since 1987. In long-...

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