Sober Living Homes for Those Recovering From Alcoholism

Sober living homes are designed for individuals who are ready to live independently but are looking for a supportive sober community and an alcohol-free home. Read on to learn more about the benefits of sober living facilities and how to find them.

What is a Sober Living Home?

Sober living homes offer ongoing social support and housing for people who are transitioning from inpatient treatment or incarceration.1 They can be helpful for those looking to prevent relapse and maintain abstinence away from their normal environments or homes.1 It is important to note that sober living homes do not offer rehab or any type of formal addiction treatment.1

However, they do strongly encourage attendance in 12-step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).1 You generally do not need a referral to enter sober housing; however, people are most commonly referred to this type of facility from the criminal justice system, concerned loved ones, or rehab programs.1

Your length of stay in a sober living home depends on many factors. In some, you can stay as long as you would like, as long as you follow the house rules. Others have specific phases you must pass through in order to maintain your residence.1 As a resident in a sober living facility, you’ll likely have to pay rent, which may depend on whether you have a private or shared room, among other things.1 You may also have to pay some type of fee to help keep the home maintained.1

If you are looking to move into a sober house, it is typical to have to go through an application process similar to renting other properties. While some sober living homes are open to all applicants, there are others that may only accept people who are stepping down from a specific drug rehab program.2

Are Sober Living and Halfway Houses the Same?

A sober living home is not the same thing as a halfway house. A halfway house, also called a “community corrections center” or a “residential re-entry center,” is strictly for people leaving prison.3 People living in halfway houses are often serving part of a prison sentence or are in a transitional period after their sentence. They are focused on helping residents re-enter common society after spending time in prison. These centers offer treatment, which some residents may have to attend as part of living there.

Sober living homes also differ in that they are not subject to the oversight of state licensing agencies, while the Bureau of Prisons controls halfway houses.1,3 Fee structures for the two types vary, where sober homes have a variety of rent and fee structures, and halfway housing fees are based on residents’ gross income.3

Benefits of Sober Living Homes

The type of skills and benefits you can gain by staying in a sober living home include: 4

  • Developing a social network to reinforce recovery. Being part of a peer groups and having a support network that offers encouragement and hope supports your recovery.4 In addition, being in an environment that is free of drugs and alcohol helps control the triggers that can lead to relapse, such as having family members who drink or use drugs in a regular home. Sober living can give you access to peers who are further along in their own recovery who can provide extra support and model behaviors if you are newer to recovery.5
  • Stable housing. If you are leaving residential treatment, it can be difficult to secure a place to live. This can be due to financial hardships or criminal records. Sober living facilities usually allow people with a criminal record to live there, and they may be more affordable than other housing options. Additionally, those who don’t have a stable home environment that supports sustained recovery may have a higher risk of relapse.
  • Employment and education outcomes. It’s possible that staying in a sober living house can contribute to positive outcomes for employment and schooling, too.5

What to Expect in Sober Living Homes

If you enter a sober living facility, you will be expected to follow a set of house rules. These house rules can vary but may include: 1,7

  • Signing in and out of the sober living home.
  • No drugs or alcohol allowed.
  • Regular drug testing.
  • Completing chores and maintaining a clean environment.
  • Avoiding interpersonal conflict.
  • Must stay at the home a certain number of nights each week, typically 5.
  • Attending 12 step groups.
  • Attending mandatory house meetings.

Other things to expect include having a roommate or multiple roommates; however, residents can sometimes pay a higher fee for a private room. Further, to keep the home harmonious, there could be disciplinary actions for physical conflict or other threatening behavior.7 Dependent on the home, this could be something like tighter day-to-day restrictions or even eviction. Curfews are also commonplace.1 In some programs, you cannot have a locked door to your room.7

Recovery Philosophy Within Sober Living Residences

Recovery philosophies for sober living homes vary. In general, sober living residents are expected to participate in a self-help group, particularly AA or NA, and maintain abstinence from all substances.1 Furthermore, each resident is encouraged to support others and “give back” as is described in 12 step programs as key to recovery.1 Residents can lean on one another for support.5

How Much Does a Sober Living Home Cost?

The cost of a sober living home varies, based on many different factors. Oftentimes, the only costs are a set fee to help maintain the home, plus rent. The cost of each sober living program will depend on what services are offered, staffing, where it’s located, the value of the home itself, and whether rooms are shared.1,2

Finding a Sober Living Facility

One place to start looking for a sober living facility is a Google search for something such as “sober living houses near me” or “sober house in” followed by your city and state. You can also consider asking peers at 12-step meetings or work with your treatment provider to see if he or she can help get you into a sober living facility.

Additionally, Alcohol.org is a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers (AAC), a nationwide provider of treatment centers. We offer sober living facilities at three of our facilities:

Our transitional housing is both for those coming out of higher levels of care and those who may feel their home environment may be triggering, regardless of whether they’ve undergone treatment with us. While amenities and services vary by location, some of the things you can expect while living in our sober living homes are:

  • Separate men’s and women’s apartment-style quarters.
  • Daily transportation to treatment to meetings.
  • Extension of the AAC curriculum.
  • House managers on staff.
  • Chef-cooked meals.
  • Daily gym access.
  • Exercise/lifestyle classes available for anyone in recovery, hosted by The Phoenix.
  • Laundry facilities.
  • Cable TV and phone in each room.
  • Free Wi-Fi.
  • Housekeeping services.
  • Non-smoking rooms.
Sources
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[1]. Polcin, D. L., & Henderson, D. M. (2008, June). A clean and sober place to live: Philosophy, structure, and purported therapeutic factors in sober living houses. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 40(2), 153-159.

[2]. National Association of Recovery Residences. (2012, September 20). A primer on recovery residences: FAQs from the National Association of Recovery Residences.

[3]. Families Against Mandatory Minimums. (2012, April 24). Frequently asked questions about federal halfway houses and home confinement.

[4]. Substance Abuse Mental Health and Services Administration. (2012). SAMHSA’s working definition of recovery.

[5]. Jason, L. A., & Ferrari, J. R. (2010, May). Oxford house recovery homes: Characteristics and effectiveness. Psychological Services, 7(2), 92.

[6]. Polcin, D. L., Korcha, R. A., Bond, J., & Galloway, G. (2010, March 29). Sober living houses for alcohol and drug dependence: 18-month outcomes. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 38(4), 356-365.

[7]. The Sober Living Network. (2012, March 30). Standard for quality sober living homes.