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» Frequently Asked Questions

As we say often at MASH, “Home is not a place. It is a feeling.”  Our certified sober homes take pride in offering a home-like environment that supports recovery. Certified sober homes have comfortable spaces for living, sleeping, and engaging with peers, all of which make them valuable and safe spaces for recovery.

Here are some of the questions we receive about sober housing in Massachusetts. Don’t see what you’re looking for or want to know more? Please don’t hesitate to contact us.

What is a sober home?
A sober home is a sober, safe, and healthy living environment that promotes recovery from alcohol and other drug use and associated problems. When alcoholics and addicts leave inpatient facilities, they can face difficulty transitioning back to daily life. Sober living homes operate as a bridge between treatment facilities and the “real world.” This in-between recovery option, which uses a peer-to-peer recovery model, reinforces lessons learned in treatment.

Establishing a strong sober home community culture is critical to success in recovery. All MASH-certified sober homes are required to have comfortable living space, with a common living area, designated living and sleeping areas that meet our requirements for square footage, bathrooms that accommodate the home’s maximum capacity. MASH-certified sober homes must also offer a peer-based environment and be drug- and alcohol-free.

Sober homes support various abstinence-based pathways to recovery, and each residence focuses on one or more particular pathway. All MASH sober homes meet national standards based on the National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR) model.

What is expected of residents of a sober home?
Residents of sober homes are expected to abstain from alcohol and drug use, other than prescribed medications, and to refrain from prescription misuse. Payment terms for sober homes vary, and residents are given written house agreements. MASH-certified sober homes are governed by standards that address safety from an administrative, operational, property, and “good neighbor” perspective.

What’s the difference between a sober home and a recovery residence?
In Massachusetts, sober homes and recovery residences are different models for substance abuse recovery. Recovery residences —formerly known as halfway houses — are licensed residential treatment programs, while Massachusetts sober homes are peer-led and do not provide treatment. Sober homes provide mutual support, emphasize independent living skills, and depend on peer leadership. They are not licensed and are not funded by the state.

Are sober homes boarding homes?
No. Sober homes and boarding homes differ, and the laws governing boarding houses are specific for that designation.

Why should I certify my sober home?
There are numerous benefits to certifying your sober home. With certification, you’ll be eligible for referrals from state agencies. You will also have a connection to the National Association of Recovery Residences (NARR), be invited to monthly member calls, and have networking opportunities with other operators. You will also have enhanced legitimacy as an associate of a statewide organization, and be a part of raising awareness and credibility for sober housing.

What are the referral sources for certified sober homes?
Effective September 1, 2016, state agencies and their vendors are only be able to refer clients to certified alcohol and drug-free housing. MASH serves as the primary agency for accountability of all certified homes in Massachusetts. Any home not certified will not be able to accept clients from state agencies until certified. Referral sources for certified sober homes are:
• Detox
• Hospital
• Psychiatric unit
• Department of Corrections
• Drug court
• Parole
• Probation
• Department of Children and Families
• Section 35
• Community support providers
• Department of Veterans Affairs
• Charity scholarship groups
• Psychiatric hospitals
• Residential treatment
• Intensive therapeutic program
• Another sober house


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