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Paths to Recovery: Certified sober homes offer support after treatment

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has begun to recognize certified sober houses, and the Helpline now provides referrals to several certified sober homes across the state for men and women.

Sober homes, also known as alcohol- and drug-free housing, can offer people new to recovery a safe and positive environment. These group living homes ensure that people in recovery are not isolated and can share their success and support with others reaching for the same goal. They are not treatment programs, but can be a lifesaver for people finishing inpatient or residential treatment without a healthy home environment to return to, or who want for their living situation to support their recovery.

The Bureau of Substance Abuse Services of the MA Department of Public Health is contracting with two organizations to apply national standards to these homes, made specific to include Massachusetts laws. These organizations – the Massachusetts Association for Sober Housing (MASH) and the Recovery Homes Collaborative inspect and certify the homes, as well as provide training and technical assistance to sober housing operators seeking certification. Homes are funded by residents’ rent, not by the state.

MASH has been working for several years in Massachusetts to ensure that sober homes are a safe and positive environment for residents. In 2007, several sober houses in Massachusetts came together to set standards for their industry and formed MASH. Many housing programs call themselves “sober homes” and might in fact offer a healthy and sober living environment. But homes that are certified must stick to strict standards that the state can get behind. MASH-certified houses must uphold several core principles that ensure the houses are well operated, maintain the rights of residents, are recovery-oriented, and promote health. Certification is voluntary, and the Helpline refers callers only to certified homes. Five homes are currently certified as sober homes, and more homes are in the process of becoming certified by July 1, 2016.

Residents of sober homes often benefit from additional services, like counseling or day programs, as well as the support of group meetings. Because sober homes do not offer treatment, most require at least three months of sobriety to help ensure the success of their residents. To learn more about sober homes or get a referral, call the Helpline at 800-327-5050 or find a listing of sober homes here.

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