How is Recovery Housing Regulated?

Recovery housing, also known as sober living homes, provides safe and structured living environments for people recovering from substance abuse problems. According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, sober living homes act as a transitional support for community-based treatment and recovery services.

The role recovery housing plays in the treatment process differs from how drug treatment centers operate. For this reason, regulations affecting recovery housing follow a different set of guidelines.

As sober living homes do house former substance abusers, certain protections have been put in place to ensure recovery housing is made available for people who need it. Federal, state and local governments all have a say on how recovery housing is regulated.

Fair Housing Laws

sober living

Sober houses are regulated in a different way from the way addiction treatment centers are regulated.

Leaving drug treatment only to re-enter a destructive home environment makes it all but impossible for a recovering addict to maintain abstinence for any length of time. Sober living homes offer an alternative living option where recovering addicts can learn valuable daily living skills within a stable, recovery-focused living environment.

Considering the challenges those in recovery face upon leaving drug treatment, there’s a definite need for the type of transitional housing sober living environments offer. Fortunately, addiction’s classification as a chronic, medical condition entitles people in recovery to receive many of the same protections as people struggling with physical disabilities. This provision is made available through fair housing laws, which dictate rights and regulations as they pertain to recovery housing.

Licensing Requirements

Unlike drug treatment programs, recovering housing doesn’t offer treatment services, nor do these programs instate any type of scheduled treatment programming. Sober housing environments rather operate as self-run facilities where residents must pay their own rent and abide by certain house rules.

Since these programs don’t provide formalized treatment services, by law, no licensing requirements apply for sober living programs, according to the California Department of Alcohol & Drug Programs.

Condition of Use Permits

Recovery housing programs typically operate out of residential-type living environments located in residential areas. Since the purpose for a sober living home differs from that of a family home, recovery housing programs have to apply for “condition of use” permits. The owner or landlord of a sober living home must submit a condition of use application and obtain a permit before he or she can set up a sober living home.

Program Restrictions

While fair housing laws do permit recovery housing programs to operate out of residential neighborhoods, certain restrictions apply in terms of how the program is run. In order to be eligible, a sober living home must operate as a long-term residence as opposed to a temporary dwelling. In this regard, long-term may be defined as two weeks or longer.


Since the basis for laws and regulations for recovery housing centers around addiction’s designation as a disability, regulations pertaining to sober living environments also fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act. As a result, any state or local regulations or restrictions for recovery housing are subject to challenge under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed, each of which is a paid advertiser: Rehab Media Group, Recovery Helpline, Alli Addiction Services.

By calling the helpline you agree to the terms of use. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. There is no obligation to enter treatment.

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