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Community Engagement Fosters Recovery

Research demonstrates an individual consumer’s recovery capital is enhanced by self-directed engagement in activities that contribute to the local community. Many Certified Recovery Residences take deliberate steps to foster the expansion of healthy social networks, providing residents opportunities to participate in structured community-based activities. In turn, participating communities benefit in tangible ways. Nearly every family in America is impacted by addiction. It is the single most devastating healthcare crisis facing our nation. The National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) identify that 9.3% or 23.5 million Americans, age 12 and over, currently meet criteria for substance use disorder treatment. Every town in the nation needs quality service providers to support their loved ones as they embrace recovery. Partnerships with community standards-based providers benefits all stakeholders.

Valuable Resource

Recovery Residences are valuable community resources and should not be confused with boarding houses. The term Recovery Residence was promulgated by the National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR) in 2011 and refers only to standards-based recovery housing. FARR is the NARR Florida affiliate and, as such, certifies provider compliance with the NARR Standard. The short film Community Partnershipsdirected by documentarian Michael DeLeon (Kids are Dying and An American Epidemic) suggests a tested, validated, and collaborative path enabling provider and community organizations to effectively partner in the effort to address the addiction healthcare crisis.

Myths, misinformation and confusion often present at the community level.

Alcoholics & addicts lack will power. Why don't they just stop?

Addiction is a brain disease; not a moral failing.  Persons who experience substance use disorders typically demonstrate a high degree of perseverance and determination. Active addiction can be extremely demanding. Persons seeking recovery often discover that regardless of their internal resolve to achieve long-term, sustained recovery, without adequate treatment and/or recovery support, they are unable to achieve their sincere desire to remain abstinent. There are scientific, evidence-based reasons for this dilemma. To learn more about addiction science, please visit or visit

All Recovery Residences (sober homes) are pretty much the same

Not all recovery housing qualifies as a Recovery Residence. “Recovery Residence” is defined as recovery-oriented housing that is certified to comply with the NARR Standard. FARR certifies four support levels (I, II, III & IV).  One level is not better than another; but rather offers distinctly different support services that are more appropriate for the resident populations they serve. To learn more about the NARR Standard and support levels, please visit: Standards Overview.

They shouldn't be permitted to operate as businesses in single family neighborhoods.

This is a common concern expressed by neighbors when attending “reasonable accommodation” zoning hearings at their local city or town hall. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) classifies persons in recovery from substance use disorder as a protected disabled class and the Fair Housing Act Amendment (FHAA) provides protections for this disabled class by requiring local zoning schemas to make a reasonable accommodation application process available to this class allowing for the expansion of the definition of “family” to include persons related by their disability. Underlying this federal protection is a preponderance of evidenced-based scientific research that unequivocally demonstrates that community based, recovery-oriented housing helps produce positive outcomes for this disabled population. While the landlord, like any landlord, may be a business owner, the residents, like any other tenants, are community members who live in the recovery housing and call in home.

They're changing the character of our community.

As of July 2015, over 800 homes throughout Florida have sought voluntary certification to the NARR Standard. This standard includes 38 specific considerations organized under six domains, including “Good Neighbor”. Quality providers take deliberate and intentional steps to blend into their neighborhood. Certified Recovery Residence owners, managers and staff are trained to promote good neighbor and responsible citizen behaviors in their community. Residents are encouraged and supported to contribute as volunteers within the broader community as a therapeutic component of their recovery.

Recovery Residences increase crime & reduce property values

A common theme for NIMBY advocates; though no evidence is ever produced to support this claim. Conversely, the American Planning Society, among many other independent research groups, present evidence that suggests otherwise:

The Federal Government says we have to permit them & there's nothing we can do about it?

Not exactly. ADA protects persons in recovery as a disabled class; not those persons in active addiction or those who elect to knowingly house them. There are so-called ‘flop houses” hiding under the protection of ADA and FHAA. FARR does not certify this group as they are clearly not in compliance with the NARR Standard. Community members who have first-hand evidence that a house on their block promotes continued drug and/or alcohol use and houses more than three unrelated adults may wish to contact their local zoning department, the appropriate law enforcement agency and/or file a grievance on this site. FARR and the Recovery Residence community is just as concerned by these imposters as other citizens and actively seek to encourage and support their closure.

I'm all for them getting help; just not here in my neighborhood.

FHAA protections are often the source of frustration for community members. While not insensitive to the needs of this disabled population, they express fears regarding inclusion in their neighborhood and suggest that recovery housing should be exempted from wherever “normal people” live. Surely the irony of this approach is obvious. The fact that community members express their desire to exclude this disabled population from their neighborhood is the very reason why federal protections are necessary. Americans have a long tradition of attempting to limit inclusion of certain ethic, religious and otherwise ‘different’ groups in our midst. It is a great source of embarrassment internationally for a nation founded on principles of inclusion. Discrimination is not tolerated by Federal Law, as well it must be in order to maintain the integrity of our Constitution.

Recovery Residence operators turn huge profits by renting multiple beds per room

Homeowners and realtors often play with calculators to see how much revenue a residential property might generate if it were converted to a recovery residence. These revenue projections are often uninformed. The primary purpose of a recovery residence is to provide a safe, dignified home to persons in recovery while they transition to living life free from alcohol and drugs. Unlike a traditional tenant/landlord relationship, successful operation of recovery housing requires training, experience andspecialty staff. Persons in early recovery often benefit from living together in a peer supportive environment. This generally demands that owner/managers take a “hands on” approach, committing many hours every week to ensure personal engagement with residents. There are significant expense considerations that are not components of the typical tenant/landlord model. FARR recommends that prior to leaping into establishing a recovery residence, potential investors and/or operators tour existing residences by requesting an invitation from successful operators and learn precisely what is required to operate a successful recovery residence.

It's unsafe to have "addicts" living next door.

NARR Standard 1.08 requires that all Recovery Residences have established policy and procedures to ensure homes remain alcohol and drug-free. In fact; the only home on the entire block that neighbors can be absolutely certain is alcohol and drug free is the Certified Recovery Residence. Persons in recovery live next door and generally make excellent neighbors. Reach out and introduce yourselves. Ask to take a tour of the home. Most owners, operators and residents welcome the opportunity to get to know their neighbors. Community stakeholders are a vital resource in helping to maintain the integrity of FARR Certification. Should any member of the local community have first-hand knowledge of a certified residence’s non-compliance with the NARR Standard, please file a confidential grievance and FARR Certification staff will open an investigation when warranted.

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