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Best Practices for Recovery Housing in Arizona By Samhsa

Percent Change in Reported 12 Month-ending Count of Drug Overdose Deaths by Jurisdiction_ November 2022 to November 2023

Recovery housing plays a critical role in supporting individuals with substance use disorders on their path to long-term recovery. In Arizona, efforts are underway to align the state’s recovery housing practices with the best practices outlined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in their publication, “Best Practices for Recovery Housing.” This article will explore how Arizona is working to implement these guidelines and enhance the quality and effectiveness of its recovery housing services.

The State of Recovery Housing in Arizona

Arizona has a significant need for quality recovery housing. In November 2023, the state reported 2,772 overdose deaths. To meet this need, Arizona has a growing network of recovery homes. As of 2021, the Arizona Recovery Housing Association (AzRHA) had certified over 100 recovery homes across the state (AzRHA, 2021).

Implementing SAMHSA's Best Practices

Recovery Housing Best Practices

Best Practice 1: Be Recovery-Oriented

  • SAMHSA emphasizes that recovery housing should be centered on the four dimensions of recovery: health, home, purpose, and community. Research supports the effectiveness of recovery-oriented approaches.
  • A study by Jason et al. (2006) found that individuals living in recovery-oriented Oxford Houses had significantly lower substance use rates, higher monthly income, and lower incarceration rates compared to those in usual aftercare.

Best Practice 2: Promote Person-Centered, Individualized, and Strengths-Based Approaches

  • Recovery housing should tailor services to each resident’s unique needs, preferences, and strengths.
  • A study by Polcin et al. (2010) found that sober living houses, which emphasize individualized and strengths-based approaches, were associated with improvements in abstinence, employment, and criminal justice involvement.

Best Practice 3: Incorporate the Social Model of Recovery

  • The social model of recovery emphasizes peer support, mutual aid, and a strong sense of community.
  • Research by Borkman et al. (1998) highlights the effectiveness of the social model in promoting long-term recovery.

Best Practice 4: Promote Equity and Cultural Competence

  • Recovery housing must be responsive to the cultural needs of diverse populations. Arizona has a significant Latino and Native American population, making cultural competence a key priority.
  • SAMHSA’s Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) 59 provides guidance on improving cultural competence in behavioral health services.

Best Practice 5: Ensure Quality, Integrity, and Resident Safety, and Reject Patient Brokering

  • Certification is a key tool for ensuring quality and safety in recovery housing.
  • Arizona has passed legislation to combat patient brokering, and the Arizona Recovery Housing Association (AzRHA) offers voluntary certification for recovery homes meeting quality standards.

Best Practice 6: Integrate Co-Occurring and Trauma-Informed Approaches

Domains of Implementation

Best Practice 7: Establish a Clear Operational Definition

  • SAMHSA provides a clear definition of recovery housing, emphasizing that it should be abstinence-focused, peer-supported, and recovery-oriented.
  • Arizona’s recovery homes align with this definition, offering various levels of support as outlined by the National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR).

Best Practice 8: Establish and Share Written Policies, Procedures, and Resident Expectations

  • Clear policies and expectations are essential for the smooth operation of recovery homes.
  • SAMHSA recommends that these be provided in writing to residents. AzRHA requires certified homes to have written policies and procedures covering areas such as medication management, relapse prevention, and resident rights.

Best Practice 9: Promote Certification

  • Certification helps ensure that recovery homes meet quality standards. AzRHA offers voluntary certification for recovery homes in Arizona, using criteria aligned with NARR standards.
  • As of 2021, over 100 homes in the state were certified by AzRHA.

Best Practice 10: Promote the Use of Evidence-Based Practices

  • SAMHSA recommends that recovery homes incorporate evidence-based practices such as medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
  • A study by Lo Sasso et al. (2012) found that individuals in recovery homes had better outcomes when they also participated in outpatient treatment, highlighting the importance of integrating evidence-based practices.

Best Practice 11: Evaluate Program Effectiveness

  • Regular evaluation is essential for ensuring the effectiveness of recovery housing. SAMHSA recommends tracking outcomes such as abstinence rates, employment, and housing stability.
  • Arizona is working to enhance data collection and outcome measurement for its recovery homes to support continuous quality improvement.


Arizona’s efforts to implement SAMHSA’s best practices (which are discussed in detail in the attached pdf below) for recovery housing demonstrate a commitment to providing high-quality, evidence-based services. By prioritizing recovery orientation, individualized approaches, the social model of recovery, cultural competence, quality assurance, trauma-informed care, clear policies, certification, evidence-based practices, and regular evaluation, Arizona is creating a strong foundation for its recovery housing system. As the state continues to align its practices with SAMHSA’s guidelines, it can serve as a model for other states looking to enhance their recovery housing services.

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Nirvana Recovery