What to expect when moving into a sober living house
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What to Expect
When Moving into a Sober Living House

Recovering from addiction is a difficult journey to tackle alone. Fortunately, sober living facilities provide services and support to people who are recovering from substance addiction. Sober living homes provide a next step between treatment facilities and independent living to make the transition more smooth as an individual adjusts to their new circumstances.

Each sober living facility offers varying levels of monitoring and variations in rules. There are also sober homes specifically for men, women, and women with children in order to accommodate the residents’ needs as best as possible.

How Does a Sober Living Facility Work

Sober living facilities are residences for those who are recovering from addiction. These homes bridge the gap between institutional support and independent living. Residents have responsibilities and rules to follow that help them develop skills needed to function, stay healthy, and stay sober in the world after treatment.

The rules provide the structure to reinforce behaviors that develop important skills. The responsibilities, included paying rent, buying food, and keeping up with household duties. In addition, residents often have to attend twelve-step recovery meetings to continue their recovery journey while incorporating more independent living responsibilities into their routines. This gradual integration gives residents the opportunity to learn what it takes to perform standard living practices without relying on substances.

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Treatment Center Affilated Sober Living Homes

Some sober living facilities are affiliated with treatment centers while others are not. Homes associated with treatment centers often have residents attend outpatient programs (OP) or intensive outpatient programs (IOP) to keep residents on track to a full recovery.

Independent Residential Sober Living Houses

On other occasions, these homes are monitored by sober living experts to hold residents accountable. Facilities that are not affiliated with treatment centers are privately-owned and have groups of residents essentially run the house together while following strict rules. This provides a more democratically-run, self-supporting home. The level of monitoring a sober living facility provides varies from location to location. What is best for an individual depends on their progress in recovery, and what structure and living conditions are most appropriate for them.

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The Difference Between Sober Living Facilities and Halfway Houses

There are different types of living environments aimed at helping individuals recover from addiction at various stages of their process. Some of the most frequently mentioned are rehabilitation centers, sober living facilities, and halfway houses.

Rehabilitation centers consist of stricter programs, rules, and monitoring for individuals who are at the beginning stages of overcoming an addiction. Sober living facilities are often the next step after rehab because this living situation provides more freedom to work, go to school, and come and go as they please. These facilities still have rules. Meeting requirements and curfews for residents help to provide structure in everyday life. It can be an overwhelming process to go from rehab directly to independent living considering the many factors that can cause a person to relapse. Sober living homes bridge that gap to ensure residents are ready and capable of making that transition.

Key differences between sober living facilities and halfway houses

Halfway houses are not affiliated with treatment centers and are separate entities compared to the other alternative. Also, they usually have fewer amenities provided, less privacy, and less structure compared to sober living homes which makes them less expensive. Halfway houses are often interpreted as being more similar to the typical way of living because there are fewer rules and restrictions. Since there are more responsibilities and freedoms when living in halfway houses, this environment is appropriate for the later stages of addiction recovery.

Other factors that differentiate the two environments are the requirements you must fulfill to stay there. In halfway houses, residents are required to be enrolled in or have previously completed a treatment program. On the other hand, sober living homes do not have this requirement, but they do offer treatment programs for residents while staying at these facilities. Halfway homes usually have a limit on how long a person can stay. This varies between each home but can be estimated to be six months to a year. For sober living homes, there are no time limits that provide people with long-term options if they need additional support.

Services Offered at a Sober Living House

Sober living facilities offer various services to help each resident transition to independent living. They have programs to help people fight addiction and to make a full recovery. For example, residents can participate in twelve-step recovery programs to overcome their dependencies. In addition, there are outpatient programs that include therapy, educational support, and social support groups. Residents typically attend these programs three to six hours a week. Also, there are intensive outpatient programs for around nine hours a week where patients focus more on preventing relapse, establishing social support networks, and dealing with triggers or urges.

On a day-to-day basis, these facilities offer more basic services like transportation and grocery shopping trips. Because people live with others who are also recovering from addiction, these homes provide a support system with other residents and sober living experts. Knowing that the main goal of these facilities is to help people develop the skills to function on their own, other services can include assistance in finding jobs, locating housing after treatment, and adjusting and living in unstructured environments.

Although sober living homes provide a space for individuals to recover and reintegrate into society, a common concern of residents is their ability to continue practicing measures that prevent relapse. To address this, these facilities offer services like aftercare plans that identify an individual's triggers, how to use healthy mechanisms to deal with these triggers, and practices that help strengthen their sense of control. These aftercare plans include emergency contacts residents can reach out to during times of urge, ways to reduce environmental and emotional triggers, and community support networks they can turn to during challenging times.

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Benefits of Sober Living Facilities

Some of the main benefits of sober living homes are the support programs and plans offered to keep individuals committed to long-term recovery. A huge part of overcoming addiction is the journey to recovery, so these facilities invest a lot of time in making sure residents have access to resources that support their efforts during and after treatment.

On a more personal level, these facilities provide networks of social support. Simply by living with others who share resident’s similar experiences and goals. Staying in a sober home with others prevents people from feeling isolated and alone in their journey. It makes the process more bearable since residents are surrounded by positive influences and helpful resources that increase the likelihood of successful recovery.

Since sober living homes provide some of the freedoms of independent living along with structure through rules, residents continuously develop the skills necessary to lead healthy lifestyles outside of these residences without feeling trapped. This method of reintegration keeps individuals accountable for their actions while preparing them for responsibilities typical in society. The living conditions in these environments allow residents to earn back their independence and to prove their own strengths to themselves. Building this confidence is key in helping individuals stay sober.

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Typical Rules of a Sober Living House

The rules of sober living houses vary. However, there are typical rules that each facility shares to shape proper behavior and to reinforce positive living practices outside of these homes.


No drugs or alcohol in the facility. The presence of drugs or alcohol could trigger relapses which is why homes are strict when it comes to this rule. However, there may be exceptions for prescriptions.


Random drug and alcohol testing. These tests check for sobriety in residents and ensure that they are staying on track to a full recovery. If a person fails a drug test, consequences can range from losing privileges in the home to being asked to leave the facility.


Curfews. Residents have to return to the facility by a set time. How strict the curfew is depends on factors like an individual’s level of care and responsibilities like work or school.


Pay for expenses. While living at a sober living house, residents are responsible for paying rent and affording their own necessities like food and toiletries. This rule serves to help people build the skills needed to live alone again. Practicing making money, saving for necessities, and purchasing what is needed to survive is crucial.


Maintain responsibilities. Every resident is responsible for assigned chores. Making chores a community effort requires residents to cooperate with each other which is a useful skill. This rule also helps people adjust to responsibilities they will have once they leave the sober house.


House meetings. Residents have to attend meetings with the rest of the household. This is a time for people to discuss any issues that have emerged, talk through challenges they have been facing, and offer support to one another. This rule encourages individuals to be open about issues they would otherwise keep inside which could be a dangerous habit outside of the facility.


Attend therapy or twelve-step meetings. Sober living homes often require residents to attend recovery meetings offered by the facility or within the community. This allows for progressive recovery throughout their stay.

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Generally, sober living houses offer similar resources for individuals recovering from addiction. However, specific rules or requirements for each one are tailored to individual facility goals and to their residents. Under any circumstance, it is important to research a sober living facility to ensure their practices address the concerns, values, and goals of an individual as each person’s journey to recovery is different.