Sobering Care Standards

Recommended Standards for Sobering Care for Alcohol and/or Other Drug Intoxication

The National Sobering Collaborative is pleased to present the first-ever National Standards of Care for Sobering, released in October 2023. These standards are the result of years of work and experience and have included input and review from experts across the country. These experts come from a variety of social locations, areas of expertise including emergency medicine and law enforcement, various positions within sobering care provider organizations, and include individuals with lived experience with substance misuse, including those who have benefited from sobering services.
The standards are divided into five domains, or categories, to be used as a framework for evaluating sobering care and the centers that provide it. These domains were chosen to address important aspects of sobering care, including the administration of services, connection to the community, safety, management and staffing, and evaluation and quality improvement. Each domain features standards detailing the specific measures and considerations related to that domain. 

Administrative Operations

Sobering center provides client-centered, low-barrier, targeted, flexible services to the populations served.

Client Rights
Client Identification
Intake & Assessment
Funding & Sustainability

Community Engagement

Sobering center is connected to the surrounding community and offers referrals and transitions to appropriate resources.

Stakeholder Engagement
Common Partnerships
Referring Parties

Facilities and Safety

Sobering center is a secure, trauma-informed, and suitable environment for the care of acute intoxication.

Layout and Accommodation
Client Belongings
Monitoring and Response
Emergency Capabilities

Staffing and Services

Sobering center staff provides safe, quality care addressing the needs of people with substance use conditions.

Staffing & Personnel
Staff Training
Staff Engagement and Oversight
Care Coordination and Client Transition

Domain V

Quality and Evaluation

Sobering center operates with a focus on evidence-based practice and quality improvement.

Developing an Evaluation Program
Logic Model and Metrics
Reports and Dissemination

The full Public Summary of these Standards can be accessed here:

Access to the full 36-page version of the Standards is available with NSC membership.
Membership options can be found here.