What is a Halfway House?

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A halfway house, also called a sober house or transitional housing, is a place someone can go following medical detox as part of their drug rehab aftercare. He or she no longer requires the medical supervision needed during the detoxification process, however, a return to normal life could still be too overwhelming at this point in their addiction recovery. 

A halfway house provides a “halfway” option between normal living and a full-time rehabilitation program for several months or longer. It is an ideal option for someone who is committed to sober living but isn’t ready to live completely on their own.

Who Can Live in a Halfway House?

Qualifications to live in a halfway house vary based on the facility. People who have completed a drug treatment program for alcohol addiction or drug abuse issues are typically eligible to live in a halfway house. These include inpatient and outpatient treatment programs.

As long as someone can remain sober, he or she can live at the facility, though each facility has its own house rules. Those who have detoxed and spent some time sober are most likely to succeed in this type of environment.

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Halfway Houses vs. Sober Living Homes

The differences between halfway houses and sober living homes depend on the specific facilities. In some cases, a sober living facility may be affiliated with a specific addiction treatment center. However, you don't have to be enrolled in treatment, you just have to be sober. They serve as a stepping stone for people who have completed a treatment program at a specific facility.

Halfway houses, on the other hand, are sometimes operated by government agencies. They are typically effective for those coming out of incarceration and those who are homeless.

Some are more crowded than sober living homes and tend to offer fewer amenities. They are less like private residences because residents live dorm-style. In general, sober living houses tend to offer more privacy and comfort than halfway houses.

In most cases, halfway houses cost less than sober living homes. However, insurance might cover at least a portion of the cost, so either option could be affordable depending on individual circumstances.

Guidelines & Rules of Halfway Houses

Halfway houses provide more freedom to residents than inpatient treatment programs. However, they still offer more structure and a larger support system than independent living your own. Rules vary from place to place, but in general, residents of halfway houses are expected to:

  • Remain sober
  • Submit to random drug and/or alcohol testing
  • Contribute to the house
  • Attend house meetings
  • Respect the property and space of other residents and staff members
  • Avoiding fighting with other residents
  • Adhere to a curfew
  • Attend a 12-step or similar program

Some halfway houses also require residents to work or seek gainful employment during their stay.

Benefits of Halfway Houses for Addiction Treatment

Living in a halfway house is beneficial for many people recovering from an alcohol or drug addiction. However, the environment is not completely without stress. Many people struggle to adjust to living with others and meeting certain obligations. It also provides them with additional support and puts them in a sober living environment.

Returning to regular life after rehab is a difficult transition for many. Halfway houses offer a bridge between these two realities.

The benefits of living in a halfway house include:

  • Holds Residents Accountable — learning accountability is an important skill for those in recovery. Most halfway houses have rules to follow and help residents set boundaries. This helps many people adjust to the demands of the outside world, learn that authority isn’t something negative, and feel responsible for themselves and the people in their lives.
  • Sober Living — halfway houses require everyone to live without alcohol or drug use for the entire amount of time they reside there. This removes temptation and helps people in recovery see that it is possible to enjoy life without these substances. In a halfway house, everyone is sober. Sobriety is an active part of everyone’s lives and is celebrated in these environments. Many halfway houses also make attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12-step meetings mandatory.
  • Surrounded by Peers It can be difficult for people in recovery to get the social interaction they need. Many of the friends they had before entering rehab will still be drinking and living the same way they did before the person began recovery. Finding new friends is difficult during this challenging transition. Halfway houses offer social interaction with people who understand the challenges of sober living.
  • Becoming More Employable — Many halfway houses offer support and guidance for finding a job. Some even require residents to look for work while living on the premises. Residents may receive help with creating a resume, assistance with filling out applications online, or learning how to interview. For those who struggle with finding steady work, this support is invaluable.
  • Time — Perhaps the most important benefit of living at a halfway house is the time it provides you to transition from rehabilitation to your new sober lifestyle. Some rehab specialists recommend that people struggling with long-term substance abuse issues should live in a halfway house for at least a year. The time spent in this facility helps them adjust, learn to embrace sobriety, develop new life skills, and realize they are capable of being self-reliant without alcohol or drugs. Transitional housing also improves the mental health of patients before they return back to society. 

How Much Does Halfway Housing Cost?

The cost of living at a halfway house varies widely based on the facility and the amenities offered. Insurance coverage and other financial support is sometimes available to help with the cost. 

In general, the cost of living at a halfway house ranges from $100 to $2000 per month. Most facilities with basic amenities cost about $400 to $800 per month, depending on their geographic region.

Financial support for living at a halfway house is available from:

  • Insurance
  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Bank loans

Some transitional housing facilities accept credit card payments or offer in-house financing. This allows you to spread out payments over several weeks or months.

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Resources +

“Halfway Houses | Sober Living Facilities.” Halfwayhouses.Us, halfwayhouses.us/..

“Recovery Homes Help People.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), www.samhsa.gov/homelessness-programs-resources/hpr-resources/recovery-homes-help-people.

National Association of Recovery Residences. Recovery Residence Levels of Support. narronline.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/NARR_levels_summary.pdf.

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