Dunn pushes to certify sober living homes, operators following state report

Dunn pushes to certify sober living homes, operators following state report

Assemblywoman Aura Dunn

TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblywoman Aura Dunn’s legislation creating a process to certify sober living homes and owners would protect patients in recovery and support a state agency’s recommendations following its report on widespread misconduct in New Jersey’s addiction rehabilitation industry.

“By certifying sober living homes and operators, New Jersey could hold them accountable for meeting industry best practices that prioritize the needs of patients recovering from drug addiction,” Dunn (R-Morris) said. “It would also provide peace of mind to the residents and their families that they are receiving the quality care they deserve in a drug-free environment.”

The state’s Commission of Investigation released a report last week describing misconduct and unethical practices among New Jersey’s drug rehabilitation facilities. Bolstering the regulation of the state’s sober living homes was among the commission’s recommendations to address the findings of overdoses and illicit drugs in homes, and an untold number of unlicensed operations subjecting unwitting patients to harm. The commission also suggested enacting legislation to crack down on deceptive marketing practices.

Dunn’s bill (A3230) requires the Department of Community Affairs to select a credentialing entity to conduct a voluntary annual certification program for sober living homes and recovery residence administrators or owners. The certification program would include criminal background checks for recovery administrators and employees, onsite and unannounced inspections of homes, and regular monitoring. Homes and administrators that falsely claim to be certified would be subject to a fine.

“There are recovery programs that are taking advantage of desperate families who are struggling to find resources to help their loved ones in the throes of addiction. My legislation would make it clear which programs are operating ethically and legally and direct families to legitimate sober living residences in New Jersey,” Dunn explained.

Certified sober living homes and their contact information would be published on a website. The Department of Community Affairs would direct health care practitioners and addiction treatment providers to the website and require them to only refer patients to a certified recovery residence or one that is owned by a licensed or certified treatment provider.

“New Jersey’s sober living homes should be a safe haven and beacon of hope for people in recovery, but the state is lacking safeguards and not fully enforcing the laws that do exist. Exposing vulnerable people suffering from addiction to additional harm will not only interfere with their recovery, it could cost them their lives. I want to showcase shining examples of places that are getting sober living right so we can connect people to the most effective help,” Dunn said.