New York State Laws and Regulations - Summary

Frequently Asked Questions


  1. What kinds of facilities require certification?
    Any behavioral health facility which offers treatment services for substance use disorder requires certification by the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) unless an exception applies. Read More
  2. What kinds of services can a certified substance abuse treatment facility provide in New York?
    In New York, primary types of facilities include inpatient facilities, residential treatment programs comprised of intensive services, community and supportive living and outpatient facilities. Within each of these provider types there are multiple levels of service. Read More
  3. What does it mean to be ‘licensed’, ‘certified’, ‘registered’ or ‘accredited’ in this industry?
    Certification means that the facility has been granted an operating certificate, or a written notice conveying to the public that the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services has issued its permission to operate authorized services related to the treatment of substance use disorder or chemical dependence. Read More
  4. Licensing

  5. Which body authorizes and oversees substance abuse treatment facilities in the State of New York?
    In New York, the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) is responsible for ensuring that persons who abuse or are dependent on alcohol and/or substances and their families are provided with care and treatment that is effective and of high quality. Read More
  6. What information must be provided in my initial application for certification?
    The first step in the certification application process is for prospective applicants to contact the Local Government Unit (LGU) and the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services’ (OASAS) Field Office (FO) in the proposed area where services are to be offered ( Read More
  7. What kinds of operating certificates are possible?
    Prior to the issuance or renewal of an operating certificate, a conditional operating certificate may be issued which requires the provider to meet specified conditions in order to maintain its authorization to provide services, and may carry with it a fine or penalty imposed by OASAS. Read More
  8. Renewal

  9. Does an operating certificate have to be renewed?
    Certification must be renewed, according to the specific renewal term determined by the Office for Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. This is determined by the results of the on-site re-certification review, and a fiscal viability review. Read More
  10. On-site Review

  11. What kinds of on-site audits or inspections will there be for certification determination and how can I prepare?
    Certified providers are inspected at least two times per year, once without prior notice, for compliance with rules, regulations, policies, procedures and requirements of the Office for Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). Read More
  12. What kinds of changes could affect certification once granted?
    Any operating certificate may, on written notice to the provider of services, be suspended, revoked or limited at any time for any of the following reasons: Read More
  13. Zoning and Land Use

  14. What are the protections afforded to small group homes used for the purpose of residential substance abuse treatment?
    Any facility with six or fewer residents is exempt from… Read More
  15. Are there any proximity restrictions regulating how close treatment centers may be to each other? Can I open a residential treatment center right next to one that is already there?
    There is no regulation preventing multiple facilities from Read More
  16. What are the basic physical plant requirements for treatment facilities?
    Please note, these regulations relate to space and do not constitute all environmental requirements. Facilities should have policies and procedures designed to prevent fire and safety hazards and minimize the risk of patient self-injury. Read More
  17. Care, Treatment and Services


  18. How does a program decide if a patient or resident is suitable for the services they can provide?
    Facilities have an obligation to provide adequate and appropriate services to their patients or patients which must be delivered with objectivity, respect and integrity. Read More
  19. Admissions Agreement

  20. What does an admissions agreement consist of?
    Discussions with the patient, or the person responsible for the patient, should be in simple, non-technical terms and in the patient’s primary language. The patient, or the person responsible for the patient and the member of staff giving the explanation, should then date and sign to confirm the patient is fully informed of the agreement he/she is entering into and the obligations it places on him/her and consents to receive services. Read More
  21. Treatment Plan

  22. What should go in a treatment plan?
    A treatment plan should be based on an evaluation of the patient and incorporate the strategies and services designed to help the patient achieve their treatment goals. It should include the patient’s history and presenting issue, identify the patient’s primary counselor, the physical health services or behavioral health services to be provided to the patient, any referrals necessary, the discharge criteria, a projected length of stay and provisional discharge plan, the likely treatment needed after discharge, the date when the treatment plan will be reviewed, the signature of the resident or the resident’s representative, date signed or documentation of the refusal to sign and the signature of the personnel member who developed the treatment plan and the date signed. Read More
  23. Contact Requirements

  24. What are the required services that a facility must provide to a patient?

    Required Services
    Inpatient Rehabilitation Inpatient services must provide, at a minimum, the following clinical services and procedures as clinically indicated and specified in the individualized treatment plan: Read More
  25. Medication

  26. How should staff manage patient medication?
    Patients have the right to use lawfully prescribed and properly monitored medication, including controlled substances, from a medical practitioner. Only duly authorized medical staff may deliver medical services and/or administer prescribed medicines. Inpatient and residential providers must… Read More
  27. Patient Rights

  28. What rights are guaranteed to patients?
    Patients’ rights must be respected and protected. Each facility has a responsibility to provide patients, or their representatives, with a copy of their rights, in a language they can understand on admission, and inform them of the complaints and appeal process. Read More
  29. What responsibilities do patients have?
    Participation in a chemical dependence service presumes a patient's continuing desire to change lifestyle habits and requires each patient to act responsibly and cooperatively with provider staff, in accord with an individual treatment/recovery plan and reasonable provider procedures. Therefore, each patient is expected to: Read More
  30. Can facilities carry out searches and conduct drug tests on their patients?
    Facilities can conduct routine screens of patients at admission or when returning to the service. Routine screening does not involve any physical contact between patient and staff. Patient’s rooms or belongings may be searched at any time with reasonable cause. Consent for routine searches and screening may be requested by a program and granted upon admission. Read More
  31. Discharge

  32. What grounds are needed in order to dismiss a patient from a program?
    There are four types of discharge. Successful completion of program means that the patient has met the goals of their treatment/recovery plan. Unsuccessful discharge means that treatment has not been effective, or the patient has decided not to complete the program. Read More
  33. I need to discharge a patient that relapsed, but am I at risk if he or she overdoses tonight and how can I protect myself?
    The discharge of a patient must be handled carefully given the risks if a patient suffers negative health consequences in the aftermath of discharge. It is helpful to address the discharge process in the admissions agreement, so that if the patient does not engage with his/her recovery plan and leaves against advice, then he/she accepts the liability does not fall onto the program. Read More
  34. Privacy

  35. How must clients’ privacy be protected?
    Client confidentiality is an important issue covered by both federal and state laws. These laws set forth specific requirements regarding how and when patient information may be shared and the protections that must be in place ... Read More
  36. Governance and Staffing

  37. What kind of governance and staffing structure should a substance abuse facility have?
    The governing body has responsibility for overseeing operations, developing comprehensive policies and procedures and reviewing quality improvement reports. An administrator must ensure that staff have specific training and experience in the treatment of alcoholism, substance abuse and/or chemical dependence specific to the services provided. The staffing requirements are as follows: Read More
  38. Payment

  39. How should I respond to patients who are unable to pay the required deductibles? Can I waive a program participant’s financial responsibility?
    Patients seeking drug and alcohol rehabilitative services often face financial difficulties, whether as a result of the consequences of their addiction or as a result of the expense of multiple, prior failed treatment programs. As a consequence, many patients (and their families or financial guarantors) claim an inability to pay deductibles, coinsurance, and/or copayments. Read More
  40. What are the key issues insurers raise to demand recoupment of fees from substance abuse treatment programs?
    Insurers may demand recoupment of fees based on any defect in the billing claim or supporting documentation and/or based on any noncompliance with federal or state laws. The most common defects in the billing claim that insurers assert are lack of medical necessity and insufficient documentation to support the claim. The most common noncompliance grounds asserted by insurers at the present time revolve around… Read More
  41. Marketing

  42. What marketing practices are prohibited?
    The most widespread prohibited marketing practices in addiction treatment appear to revolve around inappropriate inducements and inaccurate marketing claims. Read More
  43. What are the limits of gift giving to potential referral sources?
    State and federal regulators prohibit the exchange of items of value to induce referrals so the exchange of any item of value, whether it is cash or in kind, must be carefully monitored. Read More
  44. What kind of benefits can I offer existing or new patients?
    Facilities should avoid giving gifts to patients or referral sources based on anti-kickback statutes which prohibit patient brokering. Facilities can offer Read More
  45. Sober Living Environments


  46. What is a sober home?
    A sober home is an alcohol and drug-free environment inhabited by individuals who are attempting to maintain their recovery from substance abuse disorders. Read More
  47. Do we need certification to open a sober home?
    Operating certificates are… Read more
  48. Are there any consequences to being uncertified?
    Because there is no regulatory oversight, some have complained that Read More
  49. What kinds of services can a sober home offer?Alcohol and drug-free houses (sober-living environments) typically provide a living environment to enable residents to organize activities and participate in self-help initiatives which promote their goal to live without drugs or alcohol. They can provide Read More
  50. Does a sober home have to obtain certification in order to operate?
    The law protects small groups of individuals who choose to live together in peer-supportive environments and therefore does not impose a burden of obtaining certification on residents. However, Read More
  51. Zoning and Land Use

  52. What are the protections afforded by federal law to small group homes used for the purpose of residential drug rehabilitation?
    A facility with six or fewer people is… Read More
  53. Can local governments put special restrictions on sober living residences?
    Sober homes in some communities have found growing efforts to regulate them by local ordinance, including registration requirements, concentration (spacing) limits, and other requirements. Read More
  54. What other aspects should I consider before choosing a location for our sober home?
    In siting a sober home, attention should be paid to potential hostility from neighbors. While federal and state law protect the right to operate sober living homes of six or fewer in any residential community, Read More
  55. Resident’s Rights and Responsibilities

  56. What would our obligations to residents be?
    To enforce that the premises remain safe and free of intoxicant use; Read More
  57. What kind of agreement should we ask our residents to sign?
    The agreement should include a pledge from the tenant to live by the house rules including to abstain from drug and alcohol use and (usually) to attend a weekly residents’ meeting and any other rules the landlord wishes to make (guests, pets); Read More
  58. Can we insist on drug tests and searches?
    No, sober homes do not have the right to impose testing or searches without consent. Consent can be Read More
  59. Can a sober home bill insurance for required and/or random drug testing?
    Sober homes sometimes rely on the drug screening which takes place when the resident attends outpatient services, although they may make use of drug testing equipment which can be used onsite. Read More
  60. Can we make residents’ obligations contractually enforceable?
    If the rules are contained in the tenancy agreement as conditions of residence, and the resident agrees to them upon accepting the tenancy, then they are enforceable. Read More
  61. Governance and Staffing

  62. What kind of ownership and staffing structures are common with these types of residential arrangements?
    A sober housing facility may be structured as a nonprofit corporation, a for-profit corporation, limited liability company, partnership, or a sole owner arrangement. Read More
  63. Are there any other organizations where we could find more information?
    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Read More


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