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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 of recovery from alcohol or drug problems. View More

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

Medical detoxification is typically appropriate where clients manifest a more severe level of chemical dependency, withdrawal symptoms that are incapacitating, or other serious health issues requiring inpatient medical care. View More

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

Any facility which proposes to offer 24-hour non-medical residential alcohol or drug abuse-related recovery services to adults must be licensed by the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) through its Substance Use Disorders Licensing and Certification Division. View More

4. What kinds 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, with services delivered in an acute care hospital or chemical dependency recovery hospital by doctors with 24/7 monitoring by nurses. View 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 a certain set of services may only be delivered with the advance and continuous authorization (“license”) of a designated government agency, to ensure protection of public health, safety, and welfare. Healthcare and residential facilities and healthcare professionals are typically licensed at the state level. It is illegal for an unlicensed facility or professional to provide a service requiring a license. View More

Non-Medical Rehabilitation Facilities (Inpatient and Outpatient) Services

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

Drug and alcohol rehabilitation services are those which are designed to promote recovery from substance use disorder problems and include one or more of the following: detoxification, group sessions, individual sessions, educational sessions, and recovery or treatment planning. View More

7. What services are prohibited?

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

Sober Living Residences Licensing

1. Does a sober living home need a license?

Shared or cooperative living arrangements which do not offer rehabilitative and recovery services, known as sober living, sober homes, transitional living, or extended care facilities, do not require a license from the Department of Health Care Services, because...View More

2. 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. View More

3. 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. View More


4. 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. Several states (including Florida and Massachusetts) have formally adopted an optional certification process for sober living residences. View More

5. Does a home have to obtain certification in order to operate?

No, but becoming certified may encourage residents to consider a particular facility for accommodation over other options, and other drug and alcohol service facilities may also be more interested in developing referral relationships with certified homes. View More

6. How does a home apply for certification/what information should be included?

The California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals has devised standards for those wishing to improve the quality of their sober living residences. View More

An application form is available here...View More

7. What should a sober home do in preparation for the on-site compliance review?

The California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals certification program evaluates home design and condition, space and capacity, fire safety, food and hygiene, management arrangements, staffing, record keeping, house rules and residency requirements. View More

8. How often must I renew certification?

Under the California Consortium of Addiction Programs Standards, homes are peer-reviewed on an annual basis, as a condition of receiving registration and a certificate. View More

Zoning and Land Use

9. What are the protections afforded by federal law to small group homes used for the purpose of residential drug rehabilitation?

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

10. Can local governments put special restrictions on sober living residences?

Sober-living residences in some communities have found growing efforts to regulate them by local ordinance, including registration requirements, concentration (spacing) limits, and other requirements. View More

11. What other aspects should be considered before choosing a location for a sober living environment?

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

Resident’s Rights and Responsibilities

12. 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; to honor promises about condition, repairs and replacements; to respect the resident’s peaceable possession of property and to abide by all landlord and tenant laws. View More

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

The agreement should include a pledge from the tenant to live by the house rules including to abstain from drug and alcohol use and (usually) to attend a weekly residents’ meeting and any other rules the landlord wishes to make (guests, pets); View More

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

No, sober living residences do not have the right to impose testing or searches without consent. View More

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

Sober living residences sometimes rely on the drug screening which takes place when the resident attends outpatient services, although they may make use of drug testing equipment which can be used onsite. View More

16. Can residents’ obligations be made contractually enforceable?

If the rules are contained in the tenancy agreement as conditions of residence, and the resident agrees to them upon accepting the tenancy, then they are enforceable. View More

Governance and Staffing

17. What kind of ownership and staffing structures are common with these types of residential arrangements?

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

18. Are there any other organizations which could help?

California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals https://www.ccapp.us/  View More

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