Sober/Transitional Living Facility Resources - Washington
Frequently Asked Questions
What types of chemical dependency services are offered in Washington?
Treatment services can be offered through residential and outpatient treatment facilities, which provide evaluation and either treatment or referrals for individuals with chemical dependency disorders.
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 with the advance and continuous authorization ("license") of a designated government agency ...
Licensing & Certification
What kind of licensure and certifications are required to operate a chemical dependency treatment program in Washington?
Facilities must be licensed to operate. Licenses from the DoH are required to operate residential treatment facilities (RTF). Initial agency licenses are required from DSHS ...
How can the licensing and credentialing agencies in Washington be reached?
Oversight is done by DoH and/or DSHS's DBHR, depending on the facility type. Licensing for residential treatment facilities is overseen by DoH while DBHR oversees the initial licensing and the program certifications ...
How does a residential treatment facility obtain a license?
A completed application for RTF licensure must be submitted to DoH 60 days or more before commencing operations on the forms provided by DoH and signed by the owner or legal designee.
How does a residential treatment facility renew or amend its license?
DoH mails the "Notice to Renew" about 45 days before the due date, which is 30 days before license expiration. At least 30 days before the expiration date of the current license, the facility must submit to DoH:
What is the process for obtaining certification for a chemical dependency facility?
Chemical dependency facilities must apply for an initial license from DSHS to operate as a behavioral health agency, and must apply for program certifications from DBHR
Recovery Houses & Drug and Alcohol Free Housing
What is a recovery house and what is drug and alcohol free housing?
Recovery houses and other sober living facilities are transitional alcohol and drug free housing with rules, peer-led groups, activities and/or other structured operations. These housing options are directed toward the maintenance of sobriety for persons who exhibit treatment resistance, relapse potential, and/or lack of suitable recovery living environments, who recently have completed substance abuse treatment services, or who may be receiving such treatment services at another facility.
Do we need a license or certification to open a recovery house?
Recovery houses are currently not licensed by DoH as residential treatment facilities, but they require certification from the DBHR to offer treatment programs.
How can recovery houses demonstrate their commitment to meeting minimum quality standards?
Sober homes may devise their own quality standards. The National Alliance for Recovery Residences provides a Code of Ethics that is used by sober homes in many states and is available here: ...
What kinds of services can a recovery house offer?
Recovery houses provide a structured alcohol and drug free environment for congregate living that offers regularly scheduled peer-led or community gatherings (self-help groups, etc.).
Zoning and Land Use
What are the protections afforded by federal law to small group homes used for the purpose of sustained recovery?
A recovery house 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.
Can local governments put special restrictions on recovery houses?
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.
What other aspects should an operator consider before choosing a location for a recovery house?
In siting a recovery house, attention should be paid to potential hostility from neighbors. While federal and state law protect the right to operate sober living residences of six or fewer people in any residential community ...
Residents' Rights and Responsibilities
What would our obligations to residents be?
In general, recovery and sober living houses should agree to the following: (1) to enforce that the premises remain safe and free of intoxicant use ...
What kind of agreement must we ask our residents to sign?
Any agreement residents sign must comply with landlord and tenant laws of Washington. Legal counsel should be consulted regarding terms of leases.
Can we insist on drug tests and searches?
As a general matter, sober living facilities do not have the right to impose testing or searches without consent. However, under Washington regulations, a landlord has the right to require the tenant to take a urine analysis test ...
Can recovery houses or drug and alcohol free housing bill insurance for required and/or random drug testing?
Recovery houses or drug and alcohol free housing sometimes rely on the drug screening that takes place when the resident attends outpatient services, although they may make use of drug testing equipment that can be used on-site.
Can we make clients' obligations contractually enforceable?
Yes, as long as the obligations are enforceable under Washington law in general and the laws relating to landlord and tenants.
Governance and Staffing
What kind of ownership and staffing structures are common with these types of residential arrangements?
A recovery house may be structured as a nonprofit corporation, a for-profit corporation, limited liability company, partnership, or a sole owner arrangement. Landlords for drug and alcohol free housing may consist of ...
Are there any other organizations from which we could find more information?
The American Addiction Treatment Association (AATA) delivers reliable information and resources on compliance and best practices to enable recovery industry professionals, owners, and operators to navigate the evolving clinical and regulatory landscapes.
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ATAA presents the information on this web site as a service to our members & other Internet users. While the information on this site is about legal issues, it is not legal advice. Due to the rapidly changing nature of the law & our reliance on information provided by outside sources, we make no warranty or guarantee concerning the accuracy or reliability of the content at this site or any sites to which we link.