Licenses and Regulations for Sober Living Homes

When choosing a sober living home for your loved one, it is important to take a moment to make sure that they have the appropriate accreditation and licenses necessary to legally run a drug and alcohol addiction treatment establishment.

It may not seem like something that should have to be on your checklist when researching facilities for a loved one, but legal businesses that offer rehab services to patients in recovery should be able to demonstrate their legitimacy through the appropriate paperwork from the governing authorities.

Which Sober Living Homes Need a License?

According to the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs (ADP), licensure is required for any residential facility that offers any of the following non-medical services in order to help those who are in recovery for drug and alcohol abuse:

  • Detox for physical dependence upon any substance
  • Group therapy sessions
  • Personal therapy sessions
  • Educational workshops to aid in a better understanding of addiction, recovery, and drug-related issues
  • Treatment planning for ongoing recovery from dependence upon drugs and alcohol

The ADP is the only authority that has the power to provide these licenses in California. Each state has its own governing agency for the purpose of licensure and, in each state, the rules may vary. Additionally, each city and county may have its own unique list of requirements in terms of licensure, permits and clearances.1

It is important to note, however, that other drug and alcohol treatment facilities that provide residential care to patients may require licensing from other organizations like group homes, which may require licensure by the Department of Social Services and chemical dependency hospitals that must be licensed by the Department of Public Health.

>>> READ THIS NEXT: Another Community that Will Help You Stay Sober

Which Sober Living Homes Do Not Require Licensing?

Any home or estate that simply asks that residents avoid using drugs and alcohol but provides none of the services listed above is not required by law to secure licensing. These often confusingly go by the same name as sober living estates that require licensure, including the following:

  • Sober living home
  • Transitional housing
  • Cooperative living
  • Alcohol-free housing
  • Drug-free housing
  • Sober living environment

If these homes are a business, however, they may require certain permits and clearances in order to pay local and state taxes.

Is My Sober Living Home Appropriately Licensed?

How can you find out if a sober living home you are looking into has done its due diligence? Ask. It’s always a good idea to talk to the counselors at any addiction treatment or rehab facility before you enroll, and one of the questions you should ask during that conversation should be about the steps they have taken and continue to take in order to be in compliance with state and local laws.

In some cases, you may be able to call local state agencies and find out if the sober living home you are considering is current on their licensing regulations. This information, in most cases, should be public record.

How Important Is Licensing?

If a sober living home does not have all the licenses necessary to practice business within the law, then it’s not the right establishment for your loved one. Cutting corners is not an acceptable practice, and finding a sober living home that has all their correct licenses up to date is one of many indicators that they are operating a business that will be able facilitate your loved one’s launch into an independent, sober life.

Help Finding Sober Living Homes

Sober living homes can be a wonderful transitional step after leaving inpatient treatment for many people who have recently been fighting addiction. It is a great way to continue to offer care for your loved one as they work toward a sober life. But with every part of addiction treatment, you must have good information about the facility in order to protect your loved one and help insure their success in recovery.

If you’d like help finding a licensed sober living home for you or your loved one, please call us at our 24-hour, toll-free helpline, 844-675-1221, to let us get you started on finding the right fit for your family.


“Sober Living Homes in California: Options for State and Local Regulation.” California State Library. October 2016.

Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment