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Standards and Ethics

The term Recovery Residence was promulgated by the National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR) and refers to standards-based recovery housing. As the Pennsylvania  NARR affiliate, PARR certifies provider compliance with the NARR Standard. This Standard is constructed atop the Social Model of Recovery Philosophy (SMRP) which emerged in California some seventy years ago, attracted science-based,

academic researchers over the following decades which, in turn, led to SMRP migration nationwide in the late 60’s and beyond. Recovery-oriented housing founded on SMRP principles continues to be studied academically due to its proven effectiveness in promoting and sustaining long-term recovery.



Each level implements the social model of recovery philosophy (SMRP) to varying degrees and offers distinctly different service intensities.  Level IV Residences are licensed providers who blend the “Medical Model” and “Social Model” to create a hybrid. Level III Residences offer life skills training and 24/7/365 supervision, generally by credentialed staff. Level II Residences monitor resident participation in individual and community recovery activities and Level I Residences, often viewed as a “pure” reflection of SMRP, are democratically run homes where residents self-govern by a set of “house rules” and share monthly expenses.



Together, thirty-eight (38) individual standards organized under six (6) separate domains form the NARR Standard.  Drawing from many decades of experience and accumulated across a broad spectrum of recovery housing providers and support organizations, there exists a preponderance of peer reviewed evidence in support of recovery housing as a fundamental instrument for the development of individual Recovery Capital.  So profound is this evidence, that federal agencies such as the White House Office for National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)  have publicly recognized the emergence of the NARR Standard as a significant milestone.

















What is the distinction between certification and licensing? Consider the differences between these word groupings: Mandatory, Licensing & Regulations -vs- Voluntary, Certification & Standards. Pennsylvania mandates all behavioral healthcare providers must be licensed. Some also seek accreditation. Due their clinical component, Level IV Recovery Residences are licenseable entities and often elect to seek accreditation from Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) and PARR as a Certified Recovery Residence. 


Initially developed through an intensive year long collaboration between regional and state level organizations supporting recovery residences nationwide, the preliminary NARR Standard for Recovery Residences was first introduced in 2011.  Following a similar collaborative process, the enhanced 2015 NARR Standard reflects the consensus of NARR Affiliates, including PARR, that the Social Model of Recovery Philosophy, implemented to varying degrees, is the foundation for all four support levels.


The NARR Standard does not instruct providers how to specifically operate their recovery residence. Instead, thirty-eight standards organized under six domains provide a measurement platform upon which certification may be achieved.  By way of example: Standard 1.08 states: “Recovery Residences provide drug and alcohol free environments”. Applicants for certification submit a policy and procedure for the implementation of this particular standard. If PARR Certification staff are satisfied this policy and procedure achieves the objective, then nothing further is required to meet the standard. Conversely, if staff have concerns regarding the efficacy of the provider’s policy and procedure, they then consult with the provider to arrive at an alternative path by which the applicant might achieve compliance.



“I believe the emergence of the National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR) is one of the more important things to have happened in recent years in the recovery domain—and the development of your preliminary recovery housing standards marks a significant milestone in our field. The work you are doing is extremely important, and we thank you for it.”


David Mineta, Deputy Director of Demand Reduction for the Office of

National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

Recovery News

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