What Are Sober Living Homes?
Sober living homes are group homes for those recovering from an addiction. Most of these homes are privately owned, although some group homes are owned by businesses and may even be owned by charity organizations. Homes are usually located in quiet areas to help ensure a peaceful environment for individuals in early recovery.
These types of homes are different from rehab centers; rehab centers generally offer a more intensive recovery experience and give residents less freedom. People who reside in sober living facilities can usually come and go as they please as long as they follow certain rules. For example, sober living houses may require residents to be home by a certain time or to go to work during the day. Residents may also be subject to periodic drug testing to demonstrate ongoing sobriety.
People who live in these types of facilities are expected to be responsible for themselves. This is an important step in recovery because addiction may cause people to act in irresponsible ways, and the friends and families of addicted individuals often enable them by supporting them. People living in sober homes usually have to pay their own rent, buy their own food, and do the same things they would do for themselves if they lived in a regular home.
What Types of Rules Do Facilities Require?
Rules differ from facility to facility, but there are some rules that are common to most sober environments. Residents agree to all the rules when they move in, and violations of the rules have consequences. Depending on the violation, residents may have to pay a fine, make amends to another resident, or write an essay about what they did. In some cases, residents may be asked to leave the home because of violations of rules.
The primary rule in all sober living houses is that residents must stay sober. They are not allowed to use alcohol or drugs. In some cases, residents cannot use certain types of mouthwash or cook with certain ingredients, such as vanilla. These items could contain alcohol and might lead to false positives if the resident is subjected to a drug test. In addition, products such as these may increase the risk of relapse, as some residents might attempt to get drunk or high by misusing these items. Thus, some sober houses ban the use of items that contain alcohol.
In addition to these rules, people who live in these types of houses are encouraged to find work or go to school during the day and must contribute to the home by doing chores. They also must refrain from any violence. Some people who live in halfway houses are required to be home by a certain time of night. These rules help residents learn to be responsible for themselves and their behavior.
Who Can Live in a Sober Living House?
Most sober living homes will accept residents who are new to the rehab process...-Rehabs.com
Although most sober living homes do not restrict who may apply to live there, the majority of residents have completed a substance abuse rehabilitation program prior to moving in. This makes sense because residents must be able to stay sober in order to live in this type of home. Those actively working on their recovery who already have some sobriety under their belt and have learned the tools to help them stay sober are more likely to succeed at sober living than those who are new to recovery.
Although prior completion of a rehab program is common, it is not always a prerequisite to living in a sober residence. Many sober living homes will accept residents who are new to the rehab process as long as those residents are willing to stay sober and live by the other house rules. When applicable, residents should already have completed a detox program to guarantee medical stability and to preclude against being acute ill and unable to work while living in the sober house.
How Much Does It Cost?
Prices vary for staying in halfway houses, but most of the time it costs about the same as it would cost to live in a modest apartment or home. Sober living residents must pay rent each month. The rent usually amounts to between $450 and $750 per month, depending on where the home is located. Residents have to pay rent on time, but they do not have to pay first and last month's rent. They also do not have to pay for utilities in most sober homes, although they may get in trouble if they over-use utilities.
Living in a halfway house is generally cheaper than living in a residential rehab because the staff provides fewer services. Residents may be encouraged to attend 12-step program meetings on a regular basis and may have to periodically meet with a therapist while living at a sober living home, but intensive therapy sessions are not part of the daily operations of a sober living home. This helps bring the cost down. In addition, most sober homes try to ensure that residents can afford to live there so people who desire to stay sober are able to have a safe environment in which to do so.
What Is the Difference Between Sober Living and Halfway Houses?
Conceptually, halfway houses and sober living homes are very similar. They both provide substance-free, living environments for people struggling with addiction, but they can also differ in a number of ways. Halfway houses were originally created by treatment programs. The intent was to provide the patient with a place to stay after they completed inpatient treatment or while they were attending outpatient rehab. The focus was on separating the user from their previous substance-abusing environment so that they could recover in a sober, supportive environment. These halfway houses improved treatment outcomes for many individuals. That being said, halfway houses have a few disadvantages that sober living homes do not.1
Halfway houses typically have a time limit on how long residents can stay. Residents are often required to move out after a certain length of time, whether they feel ready or not. Halfway houses also require that all residents either be currently attending substance abuse treatment or have recently completed a program. This can be troubling for some addicted individuals who want an alternative to formal treatment, have relapsed after extended recovery, or have had poor rehab experiences in the past. Lastly, some halfway houses are funded by treatment centers and the government, which means its possible that their funding will be cut, at which point residents may have nowhere to go or be prompted to move into more dangerous, sobriety-challenging environments.1
Unlike halfway houses, sober living homes allow people to live at the location for as long as they’d like, provided that they follow all house rules (such as remaining abstinent, paying rent, completing chores, etc.). Sober living homes also do not always require that you’ve attended formal addiction treatment before residing there. That being said, some sober living homes either mandate or strongly encourage that you attend 12-step meetings while living there. Finally, there are no funding disruptions, because residents pay rent while living there.1
What to Prepare Before Calling Our Helpline
Before calling our helpline to speak with one of our admissions navigators, you'll want to prepare specific information to provide them. This information will help our compassionate and caring admissions consultants in finding you a few appropriate treatment options. Make sure you know the following information:
- Your insurance plan, company, and policy number
- How severe the drug or alcohol abuse is
- All of the substances that are being abused
- The duration of substance abuse
- Any medical limitations or concerns, such as pregnancy, diabetes, heart disease, etc.
- The presence of any co-occurring psychiatric conditions
- How you or your loved one plans to travel to the facility
Generally speaking, the more information you are able to provide, the better.
If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, a sober living home may be the right solution. These special living situations help residents stay sober by keeping expectations high and giving them support while allowing them to resume normal activities such as working or going to school. Residents can also get support from one another in the house and make new friends who are committed to sobriety.
Sober living homes are not for everybody; some people may need to go through detox or rehab before they can successfully live in a sober environment. However, these homes provide a supportive place to transition from the addictive lifestyle to one of sobriety and responsibility. People who have gotten sober and want to stay that way should consider moving into a halfway house or other group home dedicated to sober living. Living in this type of home can aid sobriety and make it more likely that recovering addicts will remain in recovery for the long term.
- Polcin, D.L., Korcha, R., Bond, J, & Galloway, G. (2010). What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go from Here? Journal of psychoactive drugs, 42(4), 425–433.
- Polcin, D.L. & Korcha, R. (2017). Housing Status, Psychiatric Symptoms, and Substance Abuse Outcomes Among Sober Living House Residents Over 18 Months. Addictive Disorders & Their Treatment, 16(3), 138–150.
- Rash, C.J., Alessi, S.M., & Petry, N.M. (2017). Substance Abuse Treatment Patients in Housing Programs Respond to Contingency Management Interventions. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 72, 97–102.