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Great Lakes Recovery Centers receives MARR certification

The Ripple Recovery Residence in Sault Ste. Marie, one of three recovery houses operated by Great Lakes Recovery Centers, is pictured. GLRC’s three recovery houses recently became certified by the Michigan Association of Recovery Residences. The Ripple Recovery Residence provides recovery housing for up to six women with the option to bring their children. (Photo courtesy of Great Lakes Recovery Centers)

MARQUETTE — The three recovery houses operated by Great Lakes Recovery Centers recently achieved MARR certification.

MARR stands for Michigan Association of Recovery Residences, an organization that certifies provider compliance with the National Alliance for Recovery Residences standards and code of ethics.

MARR is Michigan’s statewide affiliate of NARR, and the organization’s objectives are to certify Michigan recovery residences to the NARR standards, publish a directory of certified recovery residences in Michigan and provide training in the NARR standards, according to MARR’s website.

GLRC’s three recovery houses are now the only three in the Upper Peninsula to be MARR-accredited recovery residences.

“Right now, there’s no universally recognized credentialing body for recovery houses, so people always hear these horror stories about recovery houses going rogue,” said GLRC’s Central U.P. operations director Elissa Kent. “There was no national accreditation body until NARR became a thing. While it’s not a requirement, a lot of states are moving in the direction of having recovery houses meet the expectations and guidelines set forth by NARR.

“MARR is the Michigan chapter of (NARR). That’s who we worked with. They have a specific set of guidelines and standards that recovery houses should meet that should keep everything safe, sanitary and in the best interest of the clients at all times. All three of our residences are MARR certified, and they’re the only ones in the U.P. that are certified.”

The three houses are the Ripple Recovery Residence in L’Anse, Sue B’s House in Marquette and Gary’s House in Sault Ste. Marie.

The Ripple Recovery Residence provides housing for up to six women with the option to bring their children, while Sue B’s House has beds for up to eight women. Gary’s House has five beds for men.

“There’s a very big set of standards everyone has to meet,” Kent added. “There needs to be so much square footage of living space per client, a certain amount of bathrooms per client and so on. We have to be able to demonstrate all sorts of expectations in terms of physical property as well as quality services that we’re providing for our clients. We use those standards to develop them.”

NARR was founded in 2011 and was the first organization to establish a set of national standards for recovery residences, according to its website. The standard is based on a ‘spectrum’ of recovery-oriented housing and distinguishes four different levels of support. The GLRC houses are all on Level 3 of the spectrum, which means “residences offer a paid staff supportive environment that offers life skills training and peer-based recovery supports.”

A Level 1 residence is classified as “residences are democratically run homes where the residents self-govern by a set of “house rules” and share monthly expenses.” Level 2 is classified as “residences have unpaid staff who monitor resident participation in individual and community recovery activities,” and Level 4 states that “residences are state-licensed treatment providers who blend the ‘Medical Model’ and ‘Social Model’ to create a relatively more supportive environment for the person in recovery.”

Kent says one of the GLRC recovery houses could qualify as Level 4, but the plan for now is to keep all of them on Level 3 status.

According to the MARR website, one level isn’t ‘better’ than another, but simply distinguishes between each type of recovery residence which differ in the kind and intensity of services and supports each provides.

“Diversity within the continuum is important, because recovery is a process,” the website reads. “Individuals need various types and levels of support at different stages of recovery. Matching an individual with the appropriate level of support is both recovery supportive and cost-effective.”

Since NARR released its original set of standards for recovery housing in 2011, they’ve been updated twice, the first update coming in October 2015 and the current version, titled Version 3.0, updated in 2018.

After preparing the houses to meet MARR standards, GLRC contacted the organization to set up a date and time for MARR staff to visit, tour and inspect each house, which took place near the end of July.

“We’re excited and proud,” Kent said. “We’re glad that organizations are holding recovery houses to a higher standard through these requirements, and we’re excited to see others get on board.”

For more information on the Michigan Association of Recovery Residences, visit www.michiganarr.com. For more on the National Alliance for Recovery Residences and to view the NARR standards and guidelines in full, visit www.narronline.org.

For the latest information, news and happenings with Great Lakes Recovery Centers, visit www.greatlakesrecovery.org or call 906-228-9696.

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