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Recovery support services, such as recovery housing, assist individuals with substance use disorder by increasing their access to social support, employment services, and systems of care. Yet little is known about the technical assistance needs of recovery housing operators. A new report though shows technical assistance (TA) is needed but the type of assistance varies by recovery housing type.

The study outlined in the report, “Assessing Technical Assistance Needs among Recovery Residence Operators in the United States,” had two goals — to learn about the TA needs of recovery housing operators and to determine whether TA needs differed by the number of houses the operator managed.

“Recovery housing is a type of housing model that provides a safe and supportive, substance-prohibitive environment that offers direct connection to peer support and other recovery support services to grow resident recovery capital,” said Robin Thompson of the Rural Center of Excellence in Recovery Housing, which collaborated on the research. “This type of model has not always had oversight; the National Alliance for Recovery Residences [NARR], a nonprofit founded in 2011, developed standards for the operation of recovery housing. While this organization has brought awareness to the importance of recovery housing as a resource for individuals in recovery from substance use disorder and the increased interest of recovery houses to become certified, little was known (at the time the assessment was conducted) about the TA needs of recovery housing operators.”

The report shows all operators who responded to the initial survey indicated a need for and interest in TA. Operators of single recovery houses were more likely to indicate TA need related to recovery housing management/function such as risk management and intake processes, while operators of multiple recovery houses were more likely to indicate TA need related to more complex topics, such as establishing sustainability plans as well as developing prescription medication use policies.

The report notes that limited technical assistance on recovery housing standards is widely available and affordable. The National Alliance for Recovery Residences provides in-person, multi-day teachings and experiential training on NARR standards to state affiliate leaders and recovery residence owners/operators who are NARR-certified. NARR also hosts monthly open calls to answer questions and concerns by anyone in attendance. However, the authors said those web-based sessions are not a replacement for intensive training and support that many owners/operators may benefit from but are unable to afford.

In addition to financial investment, more research is needed to better understand the types of TA recovery residence operators need and whether these needs differ based on characteristics of the residence. The goal of providing recovery residence owners/operators with TA is to improve the quality and effectiveness of these supports.

The authors said, “As an increasing number of states move to implement voluntary certification or licensing for recovery residences, targeted training and technical assistance to owners/operators will facilitate the successful adoption of recovery residence best practices and quality standards.”

The most surprising data from the survey, according to Thompson, was the great number of open-text responses and detail provided in those responses.

“For example, one of the questions, ‘Please share some of the biggest challenges when it comes to running your recovery residence(s).’ For this non-required question, meaning respondents do not have to complete, 90% of respondents provided their thoughts on challenges,” she said. “The level of detail, and likely time taken to share the challenges they’ve had, says a lot about the respondents taking the survey — leaders who are serving in roles to develop and improve the quality of the recovery houses they oversee. The service they’re providing is changing lives, and the majority of owners and operators we've been able to connect with through research efforts have been the most willing to contribute, in order to improve the recovery housing industry.”

To view the complete report, visit

The authors of the report were: Jennifer Miles from the School of Social Work at Rutgers University; Terry Bunn, Amber Kizewski, Tyler Jennings, and Teresa Waters from the Kentucky Injury Prevention Center (KIPRC) at the University of Kentucky; Dave Johnson and Ernie Fletcher of The Fletcher Group; and Dave Sheridan from the National Alliance for Recovery Residences.

This report was funded by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant number 6 UD9RH33631-01-00 awarded to the Fletcher Group. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of HRSA. The funding agency had no role in study design, data collection, analysis, or interpretation of the findings or in the writing of the manuscript. The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC) is a subawardee of the grant. 

KIPRC is a unique partnership between KDPH and the University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health. KIPRC serves both as an academic injury prevention research center and as a bona fide agent of the Kentucky Department for Public Health for statewide injury prevention