Pennsylvania State Laws and Regulations - Summary
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of facilities require a license?
Persons, partnerships and corporations, or other legal entities intending to provide drug and alcohol treatment services require a license from Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP). Read More
What levels of care, facilities, and programs are available to clients in Pennsylvania?
DDAP identifies five distinct levels of care: Read More
What does it mean to be "licensed," "certified," or "accredited" in this industry?
Licensing means that a particular type of facility or professional may only operate or provide a certain set of services with the advance and continuous authorization (license) of a designated government agency. Read More
Which body authorizes and oversees substance abuse treatment facilities in Pennsylvania?
DDAP 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 high quality. Read More
How does a facility obtain a license?
Persons, partnerships, corporations, or other legal entities intending to provide drug and alcohol treatment services must apply for a license from DDAP... Read More
What are the different types of license which may be issued?
There are two types of license: full and provisional. Read More
What kind of changes can affect a license once granted?
Licenses are non-transferable and apply only to the person, named facility, premised, and activities licensed by DDAP. Read More
What can lead to the revocation of a license?
DDAP may revoke or refuse to issue a license for any of the following reasons: Read More
What kind of inspections might there be for licensure determination?
DDAP may send an authorized representative to enter, visit, and inspect a facility licensed or applying for a license at any time, especially when an application for licensure or renewal is in process. Read More
How can a facility prepare for inspections, on-site reviews, and audits?
While the criteria are periodically updated, key subjects of review may include: Read More
Zoning and Land Use
What are the protections afforded to small group homes used for the purpose of residential substance abuse treatment?
The regulation of land use and zoning is traditionally reserved to state and local governments, ... Read More
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?
At the present time, Pennsylvania law does not regulate or prevent multiple treatment facilities from operating in close proximity. Read More
What are the basic physical plant requirements for treatment facilities?
The rules discussed below relate to plant requirements only, and do not constitute all environmental requirements. Read More
Care, Treatment and Services
What client information should be collected during intake?
During intake, facilities should collect the following types of information: Read More
What information should be disclosed to the client during the admissions process?
Prior to admission, or in the case of an intoxicated client, as soon as stabilization occurs, basic information about treatment services must be provided,... Read More
What should we put in our admissions agreement?
The admissions agreement should include the following types of information: (1) informed consent for services and details of the condition... Read More
How does a facility decide whether a client meets the criteria for placement in a particular level of care?
In order to make a determination on whether the services offered by the facility are an appropriate fit to meet the treatment requirements of the client,... Read More
What services and staff must be offered at each different type of facility?
Substance abuse treatment facilities must meet the needs of admitted clients as identified during the admission assessment process. Read More
How does a program plan for a client's treatment?
An individual treatment and rehabilitation plan must be developed with each patient. This plan must include, but not be limited to,... Read More
What records must be kept for clients?
Programs should keep a complete, confidential client record on an individual that includes all information relative to the client's involvement with the project. Read More
What rules govern the administration of client medications?
Programs that offer pharmaceutical services must present a license from the Department of Health's Board of Examiners or the State Board of Pharmacy and a DEA registration to DDAP employees. Read More
Which clients may be suitable for take-home privileges within narcotic treatment programs?
The narcotic treatment physician must consider the following in determining whether, in exercising reasonable clinical judgment,... Read More
What rights are guaranteed to clients?
Clients' rights must be respected and protected. Each facility has a responsibility to provide clients,... Read More
What kind of incidents must be reported?
The program must develop and implement policies and procedures to respond unusual incidents including documentation of the unusual incident,... Read More
What are grounds to dismiss a client from our program?
Generally, there are four types of discharge. Read More
In what circumstances may a narcotic treatment program involuntarily terminate a client?
A narcotic treatment program may involuntarily terminate a client from the narcotic treatment program if it deems that the termination would be in the best interests of the health or safety of the client and others,... Read More
What type of paperwork should accompany a client discharge?
Where a client's inpatient treatment is involuntarily terminated, the program director must notify the client in writing of the program's decision, Read More
If a client has relapsed and needs to be discharged, is the program at risk if that client overdoses, and what protective steps should be taken?
The discharge of a client must be handled carefully given the risks if a client suffers negative health consequences in the aftermath of discharge. Read More
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
How must I respond to clients who are unable to pay the required deductibles?
Clients seeking drug and alcohol rehabilitative services often face financial difficulties,... Read More
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. Read More
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
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, Read More
What kind of benefits can I offer existing or new clients?
Providers must avoid giving a patient, prospective patient, or referral source anything of value or benefit. Read More
What is a recovery house?
A recovery house is an alcohol and drug -free environment inhabited by individuals who are attempting to maintain their recovery from substance abuse disorders. Read More
What kind of services can a recovery house offer?
Recovery houses provide a structured alcohol and drug free environment for congregate living that offers regularly scheduled peer-led or community gatherings (self-help groups, etc.). Read More
Licensing, Certification, and Accreditation
Do we need a license to open a recovery house?
Recovery houses are currently unlicensed. They are simply group residences utilized by people... Read More
In the absence of current licensing, how can recovery houses demonstrate their commitment to meeting minimum quality standards?
The Pennsylvania Alliance of Recovery Residences (PARR) is a peer driven, not-for-profit organization... Read More
What is the process through which a recovery residence can be certified by the Pennsylvania Alliance of Recovery Residences?
To be accepted as a member of PARR, the facility should meet the following standards: Read More
How does a recovery house apply for accreditation?
Accreditation information from The Joint Commission is available at: Read More
Zoning and Land Use
What are the legal protections for recovery houses?
A recovery house with six or fewer people is generally exempt from zoning and land use regulations based on federal and state law,... Read More
Can local governments put special restrictions on recovery houses?
This area of law is complex and evolving. Read More
What other aspects must I consider before choosing a location for our recovery house?
In siting a recovery house, attention should be paid to potential hostility from neighbors. Read More
Resident's Rights and Responsibilities
What would our obligations to residents be?
In general, recovery houses should agree to the following: (1) to enforce that the premises remain safe and free of intoxicant use; Read More
What kind of agreement must we ask our residents to sign?
The agreement should include: (1) a pledge from the client to live by the house rules including to abstain from drug and alcohol use and... Read More
Can we insist on drug tests and searches?
Recovery houses do not have the right to impose testing or searches without consent. Read More
Can a recovery house bill insurance for required and/or random drug testing?
Recovery houses sometimes rely on the drug screening that takes place when the resident attends outpatient services, ... Read More
Can we make residents' obligations contractually enforceable?
If the rules are contained in the recovery residency housing agreement as conditions of residence, and the resident agrees to them upon accepting the housing, then they should be enforceable. Read More
Governance and Staffing
What kind of ownership and staffing structures are common with these types of residential arrangements?
A recovery house may be structured as a nonprofit corporation, a for-profit corporation, limited liability company, partnership, or a sole owner arrangement. Read More
Are there any other organizations from which we could find more information?
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Read More