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Sober Living Homes

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Young man sitting outside his sober living home

Sober living homes, or halfway houses, can be a great resource for those who need a place to stay while in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction. They also provide a transitional place to live for people just getting out of a rehab facility or jail who are not yet ready to live on their own.

What Is a Sober Living Home?

One of the most important factors in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is the social support a recovering person receives during this critical time. When their living environment is alcohol-and drug-free, it makes it easier for them to avoid substance abuse. Sober living homes typically do not offer a formal treatment program, but encourage or require 12-step program attendance or participation in other forms of outside treatment.

When a person lives in a sober living home, they are immersed in an environment where drugs and alcohol are forbidden and a group of peers are all working toward the same goal of recovery. This type of structured living environment provides a person a way to transition from the 24/7 controlled atmosphere of a rehab program to the outside world, where triggers for relapse are everywhere.1

Outpatient Detox

Woman and doctors discussing outpatient detoxIf you are suffering from any type of addiction, it is never too late to seek help. According to the NIAAA, outpatient detox programs are best suited for people who are experiencing mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms. Read More

What Is the Experience Like?

A sober living home—sometimes called a halfway house—allows you to be in a structured environment free of drugs and alcohol, with a peer group that is in recovery and trying to remain abstinent from mind-altering substances. The halfway house gives structure but also provides you with more freedom than an inpatient rehab program where you are not typically allowed to come and go as you please. You are generally allowed to attend school or go to work and return home to the sober living house at night.

Conditions of living in a sober home usually include:1

  • Remaining sober.
  • Following house rules.
  • Doing certain chores.
  • Paying your portion of upkeep, rent, and utilities.
  • Obeying curfews.

The length of stay varies from program to program. In a recent study of sober homes, residents stayed an average of 5-1/2 months, while another study found that residents stayed an average of 8-½ months. While some programs are time-limited, many programs allow residents to stay as long as they wish, as long as they pay fees and follow the rules.2

Generally, the programs are voluntary, although some residents may be court-ordered to live in a sober residence.

Sober Living Activities

Those living in a sober living facility may participate in regularly scheduled activities and other events that enhance the sober lifestyle, including:

  • Job interviews and coaching to help residents find gainful employment.
  • Adjusting to sober living through meetings with peers.
  • Forming relationships with peers who are also drug- and alcohol-free.
  • Finding enjoyable social activities that do not involve substance abuse.
  • Mending relationships with friends and family, which may have been damaged by addiction.
  • Help with finding and eventually moving to regular housing.

Is It Effective?

halfway house friends smiling by pond

The environment in which a person lives during recovery does have a profound impact upon their ability to remain clean and sober.

An environment that encourages abstinence also increases their chances of remaining drug-free after an inpatient rehab treatment program.

A recent study indicated that sober living homes improve outcomes for people who have received drug addiction treatment. The authors of the study followed residents of halfway houses 6 months after treatment and found that residents of 2 different programs had significant reductions in drug and alcohol use. These improvements were also maintained at the 12-month follow-up, done after the study.3

What’s the Cost of Living at a Halfway House?

The cost of a sober living home is usually around the same as renting an apartment would be in the same location.

The cost of sober living homes varies widely and depends on the individual program, as well as the geographic location. Some programs can be as low as $100 a month, whereas others can run $2,000 a month. The cost of a sober living home is usually around the same as renting an apartment would be in the same location.

Many sober living homes take insurance, so if you have insurance, call your provider to find out what is covered.

Even if you don’t have insurance, though, a sober living home is still an option. Many people who live there don’t have insurance and are able to afford the fees through various means, such as:

  • Working. Most homes are set up to enable residents to work, and some take a sliding scale of a person’s earned income to support their stay in the sober living home.
  • Payment plans. Different payment arrangements allow a person to pay for their stay over time.
  • Scholarships. Some sober living programs may offer scholarships to residents who meet qualifying standards.
  • Savings or credit cards. Some people use their savings or credit cards to pay for sober living, seeing it as an investment in a sober future.
  • Crowdfunding. This payment option has gained popularity in recent years, with websites such as GoFundMe and IndieGoGo creating a platform on which you can receive donations from friends, family members, and even strangers to help finance your stay.

If you have completed an addiction treatment program and would like help transitioning back into your everyday life, a sober living home may be helpful for you.

Sources

  1. Polcin, D. L., & Henderson, D. (2008). A Clean and Sober Place to Live: Philosophy, Structure, and Purported Therapeutic Factors in Sober Living Houses. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs40, 153–159.
  2. 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 Drugs42, 425–433.
  3. Polcin, D. L., Korcha, R., Bond, J., Galloway, G., & Lapp, W. (2010). Recovery from addiction in two types of sober living houses: 12-month outcomes. Addiction Research & Theory18(4), 442-455.

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