Legislative Alert: Arizona Sober Living Homes Licensure & Certification

May 3, 2018

On April 11, 2018, Arizona enacted SB 1465 (similar to the previous measure HB 2529), which empowers the Arizona Department of Health Services to create licensure requirements for sober living homes. Prior to the enactment of this new law, Arizona state laws only required that facilities providing substance abuse treatments be licensed by the state. This law is a dramatic step from the state of Arizona in the struggle to regulate the sober living home industry.

This law will create mandatory licensure and certification procedures for every "sober living home," which are defined in the law as "any premises, place or building that provides alcohol-free or drug-free housing and that: (a) promotes independent living and life skills development; (b) may provide activities that are directed primarily toward recovery from substance use disorders; (c) provides a supervised setting to a group of unrelated individuals who are recovering from substance use disorders; [and] (d) does not provide any medical or clinical services or medication administration on-site, except for verification of abstinence." The exact requirements for licensure will be determined by the Director of the Department of Health Services and will include certain policies and procedures that allow individuals on medication-assisted treatment to reside in sober living homes, relate to financial oversight practices, mandate certain complaint practices, and implement various "good neighbor" policies. Sober living homes must also comply with federal, state, and local laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, to receive and maintain licensure. Licensure will require the payment of annual licensing fees and subject the facility to inspections, which may be conducted by a third-party organization.

Once the licensure requirements are in place by the Department of Health Services, sober living homes must be licensed to operate in the state. The Department of Health Services will allow certified sober living homes to operate until the rules are finalized, and will allow a streamlined licensure process for facilities that are currently certified by an approved certifying organization. Beginning January 1, 2019, only certified and/or licensed sober living homes will be able to receive client referrals from licensed treatment programs and providers in the state, licensed behavioral health providers in the state, treatment programs funded by state or federal funds, state agencies, and state-contracted vendors. In addition, only certified and/or licensed sober living homes will be able to receive federal or state funding to provide sober living services. Failure to obtain the required licensure and other violations of the licensure rules can result in civil penalties up to $500 for each day that a violation occurs.

Starting in January 2020, the Department of Health Services will be required to issue annual reports on licensed sober living homes to the Arizona Senate Health and Human Services Committee and the House of Representatives Health Committee that includes statistics on sober living homes in operations, complaints, and enforcement actions.

BHAP will be updating its resources on Arizona to reflect the new law and will be monitoring activities at the Department of Health Services for information on the finalized licensure requirements. For more information on the current laws governing treatment programs and sober living facilities in Arizona, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions for the state.


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