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Sober/Transitional Living Facility Resources - California

Frequently Asked Questions


1.  What is the difference between medical and non-medical social model treatment programs?

Both medical and non-medical social model programs offer services designed to promote detoxification, treatment and maintenance... Read More

2.  What is the difference between medical and non-medical detoxification programs?

Medical detoxification programs typically occur within a hospital or structured inpatient medical setting. Read More

3.  Which addiction treatment facilities are required to be licensed?

Any facility that proposes to offer 24-hour non-medical residential alcohol or drug abuse related recovery treatment services to adults must be licensed by... Read More

4.  What kind of treatment options are available for clients with addiction problems?

A client with severe withdrawal signs and symptoms may need a medically-monitored inpatient detoxification program,... Read More

5.  What does it mean to be 'licensed', 'certified' or 'accredited' in this industry?

Licensing means that a particular type of facility or professional may only operate or provide a certain set of services with the advance and continuous authorization (license) of a designated government agency. Read More

Non-Medical Rehabilitation Facilities (Inpatient and Outpatient) Services

6.  What kind of services can we offer within our program?

Drug and alcohol rehabilitation services are those which are designed to promote recovery from substance use disorders. Read More

7.  What services are prohibited?

Historically, non-medical facilities were not permitted to provide medical care or contract with physicians directly to provide medical services, although they could contract with a physician in an administrative role to provide non-clinical directorship services, such as oversight or input into program development. Read More

Sober Living Residences

8.  What is a sober living home?

A sober living home is an alcohol and drug -free environment inhabited by individuals who are attempting to maintain their recovery from substance abuse disorders. Read More


9.  Does a sober living home need a license?

Shared or cooperative living arrangements that do not offer rehabilitative and recovery services do not require a license from DHCS. Read More

10.  Are there any consequences to being “unlicensed?”

The absence of a license means that addiction recovery treatment services may not be provided at a sober living facility. Read More

11.  What kinds of services can be offered by a sober living home?

Alcohol and drug-free houses (sober-living environments) typically provide a living environment to enable residents to organize activities and participate in self-help initiatives which promote their goal to live without drugs or alcohol. Read More


12.  How can we demonstrate to our clients that we are offering a high-quality living environment?

A sober living home can elect to demonstrate voluntarily that it meets minimum quality standards. Read More

13.  Does a sober living home have to obtain accreditation in order to operate?

No, but becoming accredited or formally registered may encourage residents to consider... Read More

14.  How does a sober living home apply for accreditation or registration?

Information on accreditation is available directly from The Joint Commission... Read More

15.  What should a sober living home do in preparation for an on-site accreditation or registration review?

The facility should familiarize itself with the standards set forth by the accrediting or registering agency. Read More

16.  How often must I renew accreditation or registration?

Renewal times depend on the agency and accreditation / registration received. Read More

Zoning and Land Use

17.  What are the legal protections for sober living homes?

A sober living home with six or fewer people is generally exempt from zoning and land use regulations based on federal and state law, and need not seek municipal approval to operate. Read More

18.  Can local governments put special restrictions on sober living homes?

This area of law is complex and evolving. It is well settled that state and federal law prohibit local governments from discriminating against or treating the residents of sober living homes differently from that of traditional families. Read More

19.  What other aspects should be considered before choosing a location for a sober living home?

In siting a sober living home, attention should be paid to potential hostility from neighbors. Read More

Resident's Rights and Responsibilities

20.  What are the obligations to residents?

To enforce that the premises remain safe and free of intoxicant use; to maintain the premises in a habitable manner;... Read More

21.  What kind of agreement should a resident be asked to sign?

The agreement should include: (1) a pledge from the client to live by the house rules... Read More

22.  Can a sober living home insist on drug tests and searches?

Sober living homes do not have the right to impose testing or searches without consent. Read More

23.  Can a sober living home bill insurance for required and/or random drug testing?

Sober living residences sometimes rely on the drug screening that takes place when the resident attends outpatient services,... Read More

24.  Can residents' obligations be made contractually enforceable?

If the rules are contained in the sober living housing agreement as conditions of residence,... Read More

Governance and Staffing

25.  What kind of ownership and staffing structures are common with sober living homes?

A housing facility may be structured as a nonprofit corporation, a for-profit corporation, limited liability company, partnership, association, or a sole owner arrangement. Read More

26.  Are there any organizations which could help?

California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals... Read More

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