HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — There are hundreds of recovery houses across Pennsylvania, but how can people tell if they are legitimate? The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs started a licensing program to help.

Tae Adams lives at one of those licensed houses.

“I’m getting there, and I’m nine months clean,” she said.

Adams said her addiction destroyed her life.

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“I was addicted to crack cocaine for many years. I was homeless, living on the street, pretty much lost my family,” she said.

She never thought she would be in recovery.

“I’ve always been told you know, you’re never going to be anything else other than an addict, and I started to believe that,” Adams said.

However, after three months at Rainey’s Lighthouse, a recovery house for women, things have turned around.

“I’ve gotten a relationship back with my son. I have a four-year-old granddaughter,” Adams said.

Rainey’s Lighthouse is one of about 175 licensed recovery houses in Pennsylvania. It’s a relatively new concept — the state’s licensing program is less than a year old.

Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jennifer Smith said, while her agency only started accepting applications in December 2021, the program has been in the works for years.

“There were organizations operating recovery houses with less than stellar practices,” she said.

Not all recovery houses have to be licensed — only houses which get state or federal funds or which get referrals from programs receiving state or federal funds. However, any house can apply for a license, even if it does not fall under those criteria.

“It also sets them up for the opportunity to receive state or federal funding in the future,” Smith said of houses not currently receiving those funds.

Many requirements to get a license have to do with the physical space, Smith said, like having adequate fire exits and an acceptable number of people in bedrooms. Licensed houses are also required to have the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone on the premises.

Rainey’s Lighthouse co-owner and house manager Jennifer Pryor was not sure she would apply.

“We were under the impression that it was going to be a lot of red tape,” she said.

But having been in recovery houses herself, a standard is important.

“Sometimes you’d be in ones that were nice and sometimes you’d be in ones where maybe the toilets weren’t working or there were unsafe conditions,” she said. “Just wanted it to be legit, I really did, I wanted to do things the right way.”

Pryor said the process ended up being smooth, and she hopes other houses apply too.

“My message to them is it’s not as bad as you think,” she said.

Having a license reassures people they will get the help they need.

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“It’s just fabulous, I love it,” Adams said. “It feels really good to be clean and sober and clear-minded.”

Smith said while there are only about 175 licensed houses right now, her department is processing over 100 more applications.