The Star-Herald

Caribou Recovery Houses gain recertification

The Center for the Advancement of Rural Living together with Recovery Aroostook have announced that the Maine Association of Recovery Residences has re-certified two recovery houses based in Caribou. The houses, one a men’s residence and the other a women’s residence are owned by CARL.

Recovery Aroostook assists with day to day operations and helps to raise funds to support operations of the housing.

MARR is an organization that provides certification for recovery residences in Maine. The certification process involves a rigorous set of standards that must be met in order for a recovery house to receive MARR certification. The recovery residences in Caribou are both MARR Certified Level 2 residences. A Level 2 offers a higher level of care than Level 1, but is still considered a peer-run community. This means that residents support each other in maintaining recovery. Level 2 recovery houses typically provide a structured environment with more supervision and accountability than Level 1. The recovery residences offered by CARL and Recovery Aroostook include a house manager, access to a life couch and a recovery coach. In addition, Recovery Aroostook offers mentoring to house residents on a weekly basis.

For a Level 2 recovery house to receive MARR certification, it must meet specific standards related to the physical structure of the residence, staff qualifications, program requirements, and adherence to a code of ethics. Some of the specific requirements for MARR certification include:  a clean, safe, and well-maintained physical environment with adequate space and furnishings for residents; a written set of house rules and policies that are communicated to residents and enforced consistently; regular drug and alcohol testing for residents; staff members who have completed MARR-approved training and meet specific qualifications related to experience and education; evidence-based programming and services that are designed to promote recovery and support residents’ mental and physical health; a commitment to ongoing quality improvement and adherence to ethical standards of conduct.

MARR certification is an important designation for sober houses and recovery residences, as it indicates that the facility has met a high standard of care and has a commitment to providing quality services to residents. For individuals seeking recovery from addiction, MARR certification can be a useful tool for identifying recovery living environments that are safe, supportive, and likely to promote successful long-term recovery. 

Jan Jackson, chairperson of the CARL Board of Directors said that the MARR recertification is a tribute to the work being done by house management with the support of Recovery Aroostook.

“We have worked very hard to maintain the standards required by MARR and applaud the work of Missy Dewitt, our housing manager and the volunteers with Recovery Aroostook who provide additional support,” said Jackson. “We are so grateful to our community for their ongoing support of our recovery houses and we are making a difference in the lives of people who want to rebuild their lives, hopes and dreams.”

Jon Holabird, the chairperson for Recovery Aroostook, who is in long term recovery, spoke of the power recovery housing has in supporting individuals who have experienced addiction.   

“So many people in early recovery benefit greatly from the environment in our recovery houses.” said Holabird. “The structure, the discipline and the comradery that is built among residents, along with the support of our manager and volunteers as well as the community acceptance means so much. Even area employers are now more open to providing our residents with opportunities. The opposite of addiction is connection. Nothing is more fulfilling than watching someone who feels there is no hope learning that hope is in fact all around us.”

The Center for the Advancement of Rural Living, a 501c-3 nonprofit organization based in Caribou, purchased the men and women’s recovery houses in 2019.    

“CARL is all about filling in the gaps that exist in the social and economic fabric of rural communities and we saw recovery housing as major gap,” said Jackson. “We are working to fill other gaps as well. Given that in 2019 some 150 recovery residences existed in Maine but none in the County and with the issues we were having with the opiate crisis, overdose deaths and addiction we felt we had to act.”

CARL’s purchase of the housing was driven in large part due to the preliminary work of Recovery Aroostook which began as a grassroots volunteer organization. While still managed by volunteers, Recovery Aroostook has now been designated a 501c-3 nonprofit. For more information on the Recovery Housing contact Manager Missy Dewitt by email at

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