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Addiction Treatment Center Resources - Pennsylvania

Frequently Asked Questions


1.  What kinds 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 (PDDAP). Substance abuse facilities are physical locations from which drug and alcohol services are provided. A facility may provide more than one service. Read More

2.  What Levels of Care Are Offered to Clients in Pennsylvania?

The following levels of care are available to alcohol and drug addicted individuals in Pennsylvania. Read More

3.  What does it mean to be ‘licensed’ or ‘accredited’ in this industry?

Licensing means that the facility has been granted a written notice conveying to the public that the regulator has issued its permission to operate authorized services. These services can only be delivered with the advance and continuous authorization of a designated government agency to ensure protection of public health, safety, and welfare. Read More


4.  Which body authorizes and oversees substance abuse treatment facilities in the State of Pennsylvania?

The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (PDDAP) 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

5.  How Does a Facility Obtain a Provisional License?

Persons, partnerships, corporations, or other legal entities intending to provide drug and alcohol treatment services must apply for a license from Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (PDDAP) using the form below: Read More

6.  What are the different types of license which may be issued?

There are two types of license: full and provisional. If, after carrying out an on-site inspection, Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (PDDAP) determines that the requirements for licensure have been met, a full license will be issued to the owner of a facility and will indicate the name of the facility, the address, the date of issuance, and the types of activities the facility is authorized to provide. Read More

7.  What Kinds of Changes Can Affect a License Once Granted?

Licenses are non-transferable and therefore facilities must notify Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (PDDAP) within 90 days if any of the following conditions arise:

(a) Change in ownership.

(b) Change in name of the facility. Read More

8.  Which Changes Lead to Revocation of a License?

Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (PDDAP) may revoke or refuse to issue a license for any of the following reasons:

(a) Failure to comply with a directive issued by PDDAP;

(b) Violation of, or noncompliance with licensing standards; Read More

On-Site Review

9. What kinds of inspections might there be for licensure determination?

Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (PDDAP) may send an authorized representative to enter, visit, and inspect a facility licensed or applying for a license at any time, and especially when an application for licensure or renewal is in process. Read More

10.  How can a facility prepare for inspections, on-site reviews and audits?

While the criteria are periodically updated, key subjects of review may include:

(a) Medication management (security and storage, self-administration, logging of administration, labelling, and destruction);

(b) Policies and procedures detailing compliance with federal, state, and local laws and regulations (including confidentiality, non-discrimination, and client rights);   Read More

11.  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 local zoning and land use regulations (based on federal law) and is therefore not required to seek municipal approval to operate. Read More

12.  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 operating in close proximity. Read More

13.  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 must also comply with rules designed to prevent fire and safety hazards and minimize the risk of client self-injury. Read More

Care, Treatment and Services

Admissions Agreement

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

Prior to admission, or in the case of an intoxicated client, as soon as stabilization occurs, basic information about treatment services must be provided, in simple, non-technical terms and in the client’s primary language. Read More

15.  How does a facility decide whether a client meets 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, the facility carries out an assessment of the client’s treatment and rehabilitation needs. Read More


16.  What Services and Staff Provision 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. Each facility type has unique requirements pertaining to intensity and frequency of services provided. Read More

Treatment Planning

17.  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, written documentation of the following:  Read More


18.  What rules govern administration of client medications?

Programs which offer pharmaceutical services must present a license from the Department of Health’s Board of Examiners or the Department of State’s State Board of Pharmacy and a DEA registration to Department employees. Other notices of review or inspection, or both, must be made available upon request. Read More

19.  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, a patient is responsible in handling narcotic drugs: Read More

20.  What Rights are Guaranteed to Clients?

Clients’ rights must be respected and protected. Each facility has a responsibility to provide clients, or their representatives, with a copy of their rights, in a language they can understand during orientation and to and inform them of the complaint and appeal process. Read More

21.  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, prompt review and identification of the causes directly or indirectly responsible for the unusual incident, implementation of a timely and appropriate corrective action plan, when indicated, ongoing monitoring of the corrective action plan and a  reporting mechanism to ensure that reporting of an unusual incident to an entity is in compliance with State and Federal confidentiality laws. Read More


22.  What grounds are needed in order to dismiss a client from a program?

There are four types of discharge. Successful completion of program means that the client has met the goals of their treatment/recovery plan. Unsuccessful discharge means that treatment has not been effective, or the client has decided not to complete the program. Read More

23. In What Circumstances May a Narcotic Treatment Program Involuntarily Terminate a Client?

Involuntary terminations may be initiated only when all other efforts to retain the client in the program have failed.

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, or the program finds any of the following conditions to exist: Read More

24.  What type of paperwork must 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, including the reason given for termination. The client must be awarded an opportunity to request reconsideration of a decision terminating treatment. Read More

25.  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?

The discharge of a client must be handled carefully given the risks if a client 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 client does not engage with his/her treatment plan and leaves against advice, then he/she accepts the liability does not fall onto the program. Read More

26.  How must clients’ privacy be protected?

It is important that clients feel safe to seek help for their addiction issues, so records which deal with the identity, diagnosis, prognosis or treatment of a client are confidential and may not be disclosed without their express written consent, except in limited circumstances, for which a compliance professional should be consulted. Information which identifies those seeking services must be protected to the same degree as existing and former clients. Read More


27.  How must I respond to clients who are unable to pay the required deductibles? Can I waive a program participant’s financial responsibility?

Clients 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 clients (and their families or financial guarantors) claim an inability to pay deductibles, coinsurance, and/or copayments. Read More

28.  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.  Read More


29.  What marketing practices are prohibited?

The most widespread prohibited marketing practices in addiction treatment appear to revolve around inappropriate inducements and inaccurate marketing claims. Federal and state laws prohibit facilities from paying marketers for client referrals or based on a formula that takes account of the value or volume of client referrals.  Read More

30.  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. The goal of these regulations is to ensure the independence of referrals for healthcare services. Read More

31.  What kind of benefits can I offer existing or new clients?

Facilities must avoid giving gifts to clients or referral sources based on anti-kickback statutes which prohibit client brokering. Read More

Recovery Residences


32.  What is a recovery home?

Recovery Homes are transitional alcohol and drug free housing with rules,... Read More

33.  Do we need a license to open a recovery home?

Recovery homes are currently unlicensed. Read More

34.  In the absence of licensing, how can recovery homes demonstrate their commitment to meeting minimum quality standards?

The Pennsylvania Alliance of Recovery Residences (PARR) is a peer driven not-for-profit organization. It offers membership to recovery homes which enables them to increase their credibility by voluntarily meeting the PARR standards. Read More

35.  What is the process through which a sober home can be accepted as a member of Pennsylvania Alliance of Recovery Residences?

To be accepted as a member of Pennsylvania Alliance of Recovery Residences, the facility should meet the following standards: Read More

36.  What kinds of services can a recovery home offer?

Recovery Homes 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

37.  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 exempt from zoning and land use regulations based on federal and state law, and need not seek municipal approval to operate.Read More

38.  Can local governments put special restrictions on recovery homes?

Recovery 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

39.  What other aspects must I consider before choosing a location for our recovery home?

In siting a recovery home, attention must be paid to potential hostility from neighbors. Read More

Resident's Rights and Responsibilities

40.  What would our obligations to residents be?

To enforce that the premises remain safe and free of intoxicant use; to maintain the premises in a habitable manner; Read More

41.  What kind of agreement must we ask our residents to sign?

The agreement must 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

42.  Can we insist on drug tests and searches?

No, recovery homes do not have the right to impose testing or searches without consent.  Read More

43.  Can a recovery home bill insurance for required and/or random drug testing?

Recovery 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

44.  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

Governance and Staffing

45.  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. There will be a landlord, and often a residential manager who may be on or off-site. Read More

46.  Are there any other organizations where we could find more information?

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

http://www.samhsa.gov/    Read More

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