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Kaine, Hatch, Warren Introduce Bipartisan Legislation To Improve Addiction Recovery Homes

WASHINGTON, D.C. ­-- U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced the Ensuring Access to Quality Recovery Living Act. This bipartisan legislation will give states the resources and guidelines necessary to ensure recovery homes are able to effectively help residents sustain recovery from opioid and substance use disorders.  Recovery homes are family-like, shared living environments that are free from alcohol and illicit drug use, and centered on peer support and connection to services that help individuals who recently finished treatment continue on their journey to recovery. Currently there are no universal guidelines that all recovery homes must follow to aid in recovery. The bill would authorize the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop best practices and provide assistance to states.  

“Establishing clear standards and best practices will help ensure that recovery homes are providing the highest level of care and are held accountable for their services,” Kaine said. “These homes play a crucial role in supporting the recovery of individuals battling addiction and it is critical for residents and their families to know that these facilities are providing a safe and supportive environment that can help them transition back into their communities.” 

“Sober living homes serve a critical role in the life-long recovery of those suffering from substance use disorder,” Hatch said. “Ensuring that facilities receiving Federal grants adhere to best practices established by SAMHSA will strengthen federal oversight and increase the quality of care provided to this vulnerable population in the future.”

“The opioid epidemic is hitting Massachusetts hard,” Warren said. “We need stronger oversight and guidelines to make sure that sober living homes are getting people the care they need. I’m glad to work with my colleagues on a bipartisan bill that would do just that.”

The Senators have long been concerned with the lack of regulation for recovery homes. To help grasp the prevalence of these recovery institutions, they commissioned a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. The bill’s introduction coincides with today’s release of that GAO report titled, “Substance Use Disorder: Information on Recovery Housing Prevalence, Selected States’ Oversight, and Funding.” This report shows that the number of recovery homes nationwide is unknown, and that four of the five states that the GAO reviewed have conducted, or are in the process of conducting, investigations of recovery housing in their states. Three of these four states have taken formal steps to enhance oversight to protect individuals in the homes. 

Virginia does not currently have any state-level guidelines that regulate recovery residences to ensure that they meet the standards necessary to support recovery.

This bill is the companion bill to bipartisan legislation introduced by Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) in the House. In the Senate, the bill is also cosponsored by Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

The Ensuring Access to Quality Recovery Living Act is endorsed by Young People in Recovery (YPR) and The McShin Foundation, a Virginia-based Recovery Community Organization.

Full text of the Ensuring Access to Quality Recovery Living Act can be found here.