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Sober living homes, sometimes referred to as sober living houses, are transitional living spaces for people who want to stay sober. Think of it as a place where you can safely recover from substance abuse before returning to your everyday life.
In summary, a sober living home is:
- Temporary housing for substance abuse recovery
- A safe haven that keeps you away from prying eyes and other triggers that increase your risk for relapse (e.g., drugs and alcohol)
- A structured living environment that prepares you for reintegration into society
- A therapeutic space where you can get support from peers who, just like you, are also recovering from drug or alcohol addiction
People who have gone to rehab often struggle to stay sober. Many also find it difficult to adjust to the “real world” since they’ve become used to a life of addiction.
Sober living helps you maintain sobriety and equips you with essential life skills. That way, you can prepare for the next chapter of your life.
Is There a Difference Between Sober Living and Halfway Houses?
In many ways, sober living houses are similar to halfway homes. Both provide temporary housing and support for people recovering from substance abuse disorders. They offer access to resources that help residents with early recovery. Also, they prepare residents for a normal life outside rehab.
However, halfway homes are not the same as sober living. Below are their key differences:
- Usually run by government agencies or sponsored by the state
- Accommodates people who have been previously incarcerated and have a history of drug or alcohol addiction
- Less expensive
- Has fewer amenities
- Lacks privacy; tends to be crowded with residents
- There is a limit on how long you can stay
- You must be enrolled in a treatment program or have recently completed rehab
Sober Living Houses
- Run by medical professionals and experts in sober living
- Accommodates anyone with a history of substance abuse
- More costly, although it is likely covered by insurance
- It offers plenty of amenities to ensure a comfortable stay
- Residents get their own rooms for privacy
- You can stay for as long as you want
- Doesn’t require you to be in a treatment program
What to Expect in a Sober Living Home
Sober living houses are strategically located in safe and quiet neighborhoods. This is to provide you a comfortable and home-like environment. However, this also helps you maintain sobriety by:
- Limiting your access to drugs and alcohol
- Avoiding environmental triggers that may cause you to relapse
Common Rules of Sober Living
There are many well-established rules in sober living homes, as the structured environment is one of the main reasons they help with recovery. Some of the house rules set up in sober living homes include:
- Abstaining from drugs and alcohol
- Attending house meetings or 12-step meetings
- Completing specific chores
- Participating in random drug testing
- Following a curfew
- Signing in and out when being away from the home
A typical day in a sober living home usually begins with chores such as tidying the bedroom, cleaning the bathroom, or helping with breakfast. After that, there may be house meetings, twelve-step meetings, mandatory drug tests, or counseling sessions either inside or outside the home.
If a person living in the home has a job, they can go to work as scheduled. Residents can schedule meetings or counseling around work hours. If they don’t have a job, afternoons may consist of searching for employment, helping with household chores, or providing community service.
Residents usually enjoy healthy meals in the evening, followed by group therapy sessions. Nighttime is reserved for free time, where people usually call their loved ones, read books, or simply watch television.
Who Lives in Sober Living Homes?
Sober living homes are for:
- People who are new to addiction recovery
- Patients undergoing outpatient rehab but don’t want to stay at their home
- People who have completed a treatment program but need additional support to sustain long-term recovery
- Recovering individuals who don’t have the support of family and friends
- People who want to maintain sobriety but aren’t ready to go back to the real world
Types of Sober Living Houses
Most sober living environments provide separate homes for men and women. However, there are also mixed-gender homes and those that specifically cater to the LGBTQ+. Each gender has their own challenges in terms of recovery. By providing them separate homes, facilitators can provide gender-specific care to improve their outcomes.
Sober Living for Men
Compared to women, men are more likely to seek treatment for their substance abuse.1 But they face other challenges that make lifelong recovery difficult, such as:
- Men are less likely to stop drinking on their own
- Men tend to be more skeptical of early treatment
- Men who relapse report positive feelings about their experience
- Men have a higher risk for mental disorders and dual diagnosis
- Men tend to have poor treatment outcomes (e.g., more frequent relapses)
Given these struggles, men-only homes usually focus on early treatment, mental health support, relapse prevention, and aftercare programs.
Sober Living for Women
Women are more likely than men to quit drinking alone.2 They also have better treatment outcomes and are less likely to relapse.1 However, they face the following challenges in alcohol recovery:
- Women are less likely to seek treatment
- When they do seek help, it’s from primary healthcare settings (e.g., hospitals and mental health clinics), which leads to poorer outcomes
- Women are more likely to feel depressed after relapse
- Women who seek treatment reported higher rates of sexual abuse
Women-only houses tend to focus on providing mental health support for their residents.
LGBTQ+ Sober Living
People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer are at higher risk for substance abuse than their heterosexual counterparts. Below are some of the struggles they face in recovery:
- Limited access to treatment facilities that focus on care
- Many LGBTQ+ patients deal with trauma and mental health problems (e.g., depression and anxiety)
- Lack of support from loved ones
- Discrimination in healthcare settings
Sober living homes for the LGBTQ+ help them recover by focusing on self-acceptance, peer support, and mental health.
Other Sober Living Facilities
In addition to gender-specific sober living, some homes cater to different age groups and populations. These include:
- Teenage Sober Living Houses
- Young Adult Sober Living
Like men, women, and the LGBTQ+, people also encounter struggles that vary with age group.
How Much Do Sober Living Homes Cost?
A sober living home typically costs the same as the average apartment. Although these prices will depend on its location. It’s generally less expensive than an inpatient treatment facility since it offers fewer services.
However, many sober living homes have mandatory support group meetings. They also tend to be affiliated with addiction treatment centers that provide outpatient programs. Both of which may add to the costs.
With all services included, most homestays will cost between $500 to $1,200 per month. But they can be anywhere between $300 and $2,000, depending on the neighborhood and amenities.
Some services and amenities that may increase the cost of sober living are:
- In-house recovery programs and trainings
- Phone, internet, and cable
- Laundry services
- Health and self-care amenities (e.g., spa, gym)
- Recreational amenities (e.g., pool)
It’s worth noting that many sober living homes are covered under insurance plans or government funding. So make sure to check with your provider.
Why Choose Sober Living
Recovery is a lifelong process. The key to sustaining long-term sobriety is to prevent relapse. Sober living prepares you for this journey by:
- Giving you time to develop healthy coping mechanisms that will help you avoid relapse. You will learn how to deal with internal and external triggers such as trauma, depression, and being around people and places that might cause you to relapse.
- Helping you re-learn life skills so you can get back up on your feet. Substance abuse may have taken years off your life. Sober living will help you regain them.
- Building a peer-based support system. Being around people who are also recovering will allow you to grow from each others’ experiences.
How to Find a Sober Living House
If you or your loved one is in need of a sober living facility, contact your local healthcare professional or medical professional for a referral. They will be able to discuss the best available options and can help locate nearby locations.