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Standards Overview

The term Recovery Residence has been made widely known by the National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR) and refers to standards-based recovery housing. As the Florida NARR affiliate, FARR certifies provider compliance with the NARR Standard. These Standards are built atop the Social Model of Recovery Philosophy (SMRP) which emerged in California some seventy years ago. This attracted science-based, academic researchers over the following decades which, in turn, led to SMRP migration nationwide in the late ’60s and beyond. Recovery-oriented housing founded on SMRP principles continues to be studied academically due to its proven effectiveness in promoting and sustaining long-term recovery.


“I believe the emergence of the National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR) is one of the more important things to have happened in recent years in the recovery domain—and the development of your preliminary recovery housing standards marks a significant milestone in our field. The work you are doing is extremely important, and we thank you for it.”  

David Mineta, Deputy Director of Demand Reduction for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)


Initially developed through an intensive year long collaboration between regional and state level organizations supporting recovery residences nationwide, the preliminary NARR Standard for Recovery Residences was first introduced in 2011.  Following a similar collaborative process, the enhanced 2015 NARR Standard reflects the consensus of NARR Affiliates, including FARR, that the Social Model of Recovery Philosophy, implemented to varying degrees, is the foundation for all four support levels.

The NARR Standard does not instruct providers how to specifically operate their recovery residence. Instead, thirty-eight standards organized under six domains provide a measurement platform upon which certification may be achieved.  By way of example: Standard 1.08 states: “Recovery Residences provide drug and alcohol free environments”. Applicants for certification submit a policy and procedure for the implementation of this particular standard. If FARR Certification staff are satisfied this policy and procedure achieves the objective, then nothing further is required to meet the standard. Conversely, if staff have concerns regarding the efficacy of the provider’s policy and procedure, they then consult with the provider to arrive at an alternative path by which the applicant might achieve compliance.


Why is certification to national standards voluntary?

Persons in recovery from substance use disorders are a federally protected class under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Fair Housing Act Amendment (FHAA) protects this disabled class from discriminatory actions of state and local governments. Florida passed legislation (effective July 1, 2015) that honors these federal protections and provides further protections to ensure consumers of recovery support housing services are not taken advantage of by unscrupulous opportunists who seek to prey on vulnerable citizens. By adopting a “voluntary” approach to standards-based certification, Florida law makers have successfully threaded a very complex needle. After a one-year grace period in which recovery residence operators may achieve certification, effective July 1, 2016, only certified residences in good standing remain eligible to receive referrals from DCF licensed substance use treatment (SUT) providers.


Is the word "Standard" interchangeable with the word regulation?

In 2013, the Department of Children & Families-Substance Abuse licensure division delivered to the Florida Senate Appropriations Committee a report that determined Level I, II & III Recovery Residences are exempt for licensure and regulation. In 2015, the Florida Legislature passed and the Governor signed House Bill 21 into law. This law mandates Levels I, II & III Recovery Residences seek, achieve and sustain voluntary certification to national standards in order to remain eligible for referral from DCF licensed substance abuse treatment providers (effective date July 1, 2016). Minimum standards help to protect consumers and communities by ensuring that providers are properly educated to deliver quality services based on their certified support level. In turn; this certification allows consumers, families and communities to more easily identify safe, supportive and responsible providers.

Does voluntary certification undermine federal protections?

Individuals in recovery who simply wish to live together in a peer-supportive, alcohol and drug-free environment are not required to apply for certification. The law applies to those operators who wish to remain eligible for referral from DCF Licensed substance use disorder treatment providers. State and local governments in Florida support the right of these individuals to enjoy the benefits of communal living as the functional equivalent of a family in residential communities without oversight. The purpose and motivation of this statute is to protect the consumer from operators who advertise competencies, infrastructure and services not in evidence upon closer examination as well as from those who demonstrate an intentional disregard for the laws of our state.

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