The US Congress, Administrations, and federal agencies have begun to establish official definitions:

Recovery housing as a shared living environment free from alcohol and illicit drug use and centered on peer support and connection to services that promote sustained recovery from substance use disorders. (SUPPORT Act 2018)


Recovery houses are safe, healthy, family-like substance-free living environments that support individuals in recovery from addiction. While recovery residences vary widely in structure, all are centered on peer support and a connection to services that promote long-term recovery. Recovery housing benefits individuals in recovery by reinforcing a substance-free lifestyle and providing direct connections to other peers in recovery, mutual support groups and recovery support services. Substance-free does not prohibit prescribed medications taken as directed by a licensed prescriber, such as pharmacotherapies specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of opioid use disorder as well as other medications with FDA-approved indications for the treatment of co-occurring disorders. — Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)


Recovery housing provides an environment which is safe and supportive of those in recovery from addiction to alcohol or other drugs. Recovery housing typically makes use of single family residences, although there are congregate models in apartment buildings and college dormitories. A recently formed national organization ( is developing national standards that will include uniform language that best describes recovery housing. (ONDCP, Obama Administration)


Recovery residences (also known as “sober homes” or “recovery homes”) are alcohol- and drug-free living environments for individuals seeking the skills and social support to remain free of alcohol or other drugs and live a life of recovery in the community. Generally, recovery residences do not offer treatment, although some are affiliated with, or are arms of treatment provider organizations that offer counseling or other services to residents, onsite or at a nearby location. Recovery residences strongly encourage attendance at 12-step groups or other mutual aid groups (e.g., SMART Recovery, Women for Sobriety, Celebrate Recovery, etc.) and are generally self funded through resident fees, or in the case of Oxford Houses or other resident-run homes, shared rent, utility, and food payments. (President’s Commission, Trump Administration)


Recovery residence” means a type of community residence that provides a safe, healthy, family-like, substance-free living environment that supports individuals in recovery from substance use disorder. Recovery residences: (1) Emulate a biological family; (2) Are centered on peer support and community integration; (3) Benefit individuals in recovery by reinforcing the skills and choices that help support sustained recovery from substance use disorder and providing a supportive peer community to which residents are accountable, and ensuring access to mutual aid groups, recovery support services, and other needed services and supports; and (4) May be located in single-family homes, multi-family dwellings, and mixed-use structures. (Model Recovery Residence Certification Action, Bidden-Harris Administration, Feb 2021)


State governments have also begun defining terms within state statute:

(more to come)