Washington State Laws and Regulations - Summary

Frequently Asked Questions
  1. What types of chemical dependency services are offered in Washington?
  2. Treatment services can be offered through residential and outpatient treatment facilities, which provide evaluation and either treatment or referrals for individuals with chemical dependency disorders.
    Read More

  3. What does it mean to be "licensed," "certified," or "accredited" in this industry?
  4. Licensing means that a particular type of facility or professional may only operate with the advance and continuous authorization ("license") of a designated government agency ...
    Read More

    Licensing & Certification
  5. What kind of licensure and certifications are required to operate a chemical dependency treatment program in Washington?
  6. Facilities must be licensed to operate. Facilities must be licensed to operate. Programs must also be certified to provide specific treatment services. As of July 1, 2018, ...
    Read More

  7. How can the licensing and credentialing agencies in Washington be reached?
  8. As of July 1, 2018, oversight will be handled by the Department....
    Read More

  9. How does a residential treatment facility obtain a license?
  10. A completed application for RTF licensure must be submitted to the Department 60 days or more before ...
    Read More

  11. How does a residential treatment facility renew or amend its license?
  12. The Department mails the "Notice to Renew" about 45 days before the due date, which is 30 days before license expiration. At least 30 days before the expiration date ...
    Read More

  13. What responsibilities does a residential treatment facility have to maintain its license?
  14. The RTF must ensure it is in compliance with all relevant state and federal rules and regulations.
    Read More

  15. Under what circumstances will the Department of Health deny, suspend, modify, or revoke licensure for a residential treatment facility?
  16. The Department may deny, suspend, modify, or revoke an RTF license if the applicant or licensee has:
    Read More

  17. What is the process for obtaining certification for a chemical dependency facility?
  18. Chemical dependency facilities must apply for an initial license to operate as ...
    Read More

  19. What might cause the Department to deny, suspend, or revoke a certification for a program offered by a chemical dependency facility?
  20. The Department may deny a program’s certification if any of the following occurs:
    Read More

    On-Site Reviews
  21. What kinds of inspections might there be for licensure and certification determination?
  22. For residential treatment facility licensing, the Department may send an authorized representative to ...
    Read More

  23. How can a facility prepare for inspections, on-site reviews, and audits?
  24. Facilities must ensure that staff are well-trained and ready to answer questions which may be asked of them by the Department, reflecting knowledge of compliance and operational requirements.
    Read More

    Operational Requirements
  25. What are the requirements of an emergency plan for a residential treatment facility?
  26. An RTF must ensure client health and safety by establishing ...
    Read More

  27. What kind of governing body is required for residential treatment facilities?
  28. Under Washington state regulations, RTFs must ...
    Read More

  29. What kinds of policies and procedures must a chemical dependency program have?
  30. Certified chemical dependency programs are required to have certain administrative, personnel and clinical policies in place.
    Read More

    Zoning and Land Use
  31. What are the protections afforded to small group homes used for the purpose of residential substance abuse treatment?
  32. The regulation of land use and zoning is traditionally reserved to state and local governments, except to the extent that it conflicts with ...
    Read More

  33. 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?
  34. There is no statewide rule or regulation preventing multiple facilities from operating in close proximity, although ...
    Read More

  35. What are the basic physical plant requirements for treatment facilities?
  36. Please note, these regulations concern the physical requirements for licensure and certification, and do not constitute all environmental requirements.
    Read More

  37. What information must be disclosed to the client during intake and what must we put in our admissions agreement?
  38. 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

  39. What are the clinical record keeping requirements for licensed facilities?
  40. Licensed facilities must keep clinical records that include the following:

    Read More

  41. How does a facility decide whether a client meets criteria for placement in a particular level of care?
  42. In order to make a determination on whether the services offered by the facility are an appropriate fit to meet the treatment needs of the client, the facility ...
    Read More

  43. What services and staffing must be offered at each level of care?
  44. Substance abuse treatment facilities must meet the needs of admitted clients, as identified during the admission assessment process ...
    Read More

    Treatment Planning
  45. What are the requirements for a clinical assessment and individual service plan?
  46. Licensed behavioral health facilities, including substance use disorder treatment programs, are generally required to ...
    Read More

  47. What rules govern administration of client medications in a residential setting?
  48. The residential treatment facility is responsible for the control and use of all medications, including ensuring ...
    Read More

    Client Rights
  49. What rights are guaranteed to clients?
  50. Clients' rights must be respected and protected. Each facility has a responsibility to ...
    Read More

  51. When can a facility use restraint or seclusion techniques for behavior management?
  52. Any RTF that utilizes restraint or seclusion must ensure that restraint or seclusion is performed in accordance with all applicable federal and state laws, regulations, and rules.
    Read More

  53. What grounds are needed in order to dismiss a client from a program?
  54. Generally, there are four types of discharge.
    Read More

  55. I need to discharge a client that relapsed, but am I at risk if he or she overdoses tonight and how can I protect myself?
  56. 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

  57. How must clients' privacy be protected?
  58. Client confidentiality is an important issue covered by both federal and state laws.
    Read More

  59. How must I respond to clients who are unable to pay the required deductibles? Can I waive a program participant's financial responsibility?
  60. Clients seeking drug and alcohol rehabilitative services often face financial difficulties ...
    Read More

  61. What are the key issues insurers raise to demand recoupment of fees from chemical dependency treatment programs?
  62. Insurers may demand recoupment of fees based on ...
    Read More

  63. What marketing practices are prohibited?
  64. The most widespread prohibited marketing practices in addiction treatment appear to revolve around ...
    Read More

  65. What are the limits of gift giving to potential referral sources?
  66. Federal and state laws prohibit the exchange of items of value to induce referrals for health-related services.
    Read More

  67. What kind of benefits can I offer existing or new clients?
  68. Providers must avoid giving a patient or prospective patient anything of value or benefit.
    Read More

    Recovery Houses & Drug and Alcohol Free Housing
  69. What is a recovery house and what is drug and alcohol free housing?
  70. Recovery houses and other sober living facilities (including drug and alcohol free housing) are ...
    Read More

  71. Do we need a license or certification to open a recovery house or drug and alcohol free housing?
  72. Recovery houses are currently not licensed by the Department as residential treatment facilities, but ...
    Read More

  73. How can drug and alcohol free housing demonstrate their commitment to meeting minimum quality standards?
  74. Sober homes may devise their own quality standards.
    Read More

  75. What kinds of services can a drug and alcohol free housing offer?
  76. Drug and alcohol free housing 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

    Zoning and Land Use
  77. What are the protections afforded by federal law to small group homes used for the purpose of sustained recovery?
  78. A drug and alcohol free house or sober living with six or fewer people is generally ...
    Read More

  79. Can local governments put special restrictions on drug and alcohol free housing?
  80. This area of law is complex and evolving.
    Read More

  81. What other aspects should an operator consider before choosing a location for a drug and alcohol free house?
  82. In siting a drug and alcohol free house or sober living, attention should be paid to ...
    Read More

    Residents' Rights and Responsibilities
  83. What would our obligations to residents be?
  84. In general, recovery and sober living houses should agree to the following:
    Read More

  85. What kind of agreement must we ask our residents to sign?
  86. Any agreement residents sign must comply with landlord and tenant laws of Washington.
    Read More

  87. Can we insist on drug tests and searches?
  88. As a general matter, sober living facilities do not have the right to ...
    Read More

  89. Can recovery houses or drug and alcohol free housing bill insurance for required and/or random drug testing?
  90. Recovery houses or drug and alcohol free housing sometimes rely on the drug screening ...
    Read More

  91. Can we make clients' obligations contractually enforceable?
  92. Yes, as long as the obligations are enforceable under Washington law in general and the laws relating to landlord and tenants.
    Read More

    Governance and Staffing
  93. What kind of ownership and staffing structures are common with these types of residential arrangements?
  94. A recovery house or drug and alcohol free house may be structured as ...
    Read More

  95. Are there any other organizations from which we could find more information?
  96. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
    Read More


A national membership association that provides education and advocacy for those in the behavioral health and addiction treatment industries.

We are the leading and unifying voice of addiction-focused treatment programs.

Join Now

Contact Us

Monday - Friday
8:30 am - 4:30 pm Pacific
(closed major holidays)

SUD Treatment Provider Boot Camp Webinar Series