Best Halfway Houses: What to Look For

Written by Chloe Nicosia

How to Find the Best Halfway Houses Near You

According to a 2010 report found on the National Institutes of Health website, one of the factors that can be very detrimental to staying clean and sober is unhealthy living environments, especially in early recovery. This is where halfway houses come into play; they provide the type of environment that one needs during the early stages of recovery. In this article, we will explore what these recovery solutions are, and what the best halfway houses have in common to help you choose one that will be ideal for you.

Sober living vs. halfway houses – which is the best option for your recovery?

What is a Halfway House?

Generally speaking, a halfway house is a place where various people can find a safe home to live in while they readjust to the normal world. These can range from people who have finished a rehab program to convicts and trauma victims among others. However, halfway houses and sober living homes are terms that often used interchangeably when referring to a recovery home for people who have finished drug and alcohol rehab and are in the process of recovery from addiction.

While sober living homes are specifically aimed at helping people to transition from inpatient rehab to their everyday life and halfway houses can be used by a wider variety of people, most of the halfway houses referred to in addiction recovery are very much like sober living homes.

How Long is the Average Stay at Halfway Houses?

Since the purpose of a halfway house is to assist the person in establishing themselves again without the presence of alcohol or drug abuse, and because each person is unique when it comes to addiction, the duration of stays at some of the best halfway houses can vary greatly from person to person. Some may just need a few months while others may benefit from the living situation for more than a year.

According to the same 2010 study on halfway houses discussed earlier, the average duration of a person’s stay at the best halfway houses is between 166 and 254 days.

What is it Like in the Best Halfway Houses?

For most people entering a halfway house, it can seem rather different from the inpatient or residential rehab program that they just came from. In rehab, an individual will be immersed in their recovery process with very little freedom to do what they want to do. A halfway house is a stark contrast to that; it is more like a campus where residents tend to come and go as they please during the day, as they go to work, look for a job, or go to classes.

However, there are usually strict rules in the best halfway houses that each person must adhere to, but even with these rules, people have enough autonomy to be able to ease back into their life. Some of the rules may include a curfew time, no drugs or alcohol allowed, and attendance at 12-step meetings may be mandatory.

Most days start with making your bed and having breakfast with your house mates. After breakfast, the residents that have jobs leave for work, the students leave for classes, and those without a job or classes to go to are encouraged to apply for jobs. Daily meetings are common where housemates can share any grievances they have and chores are divided between the housemates. Some halfway houses will have the newer members take on more chores, and the older members will have less to do as time goes by; although this may vary greatly from halfway house to halfway house.

How to Choose the Best Halfway House

Halfway houses, much like rehab centers, can vary greatly in their ability to help people through the transitional period in recovery. The following section will explore what to look for in a halfway house based on what makes them effective, and elements that only the best halfway houses share.

A Drug- and Alcohol-Free Environment

One of the most crucial aspects of what to look for in a halfway house is whether or not they are really drug- and alcohol-free. Some houses may not be as stern as they should be in enforcing the most basic of halfway house rules. The best way to achieve this is usually to have random drug tests because if a person is using in the home, it can make it incredibly difficult for others to stay clean.


Unfortunately, it isn’t required for a halfway house to be certified, which means that they may not adhere to the standards that are required to assist a recovering addict. However, there are institutions that certify halfway houses, such as the Florida Association of Recovery Residences.

Residents Must Be Held Accountable in a Structured Environment

One of the ways on how to choose the best halfway house is to examine their structure and accountability model. Structure refers to the rules, house management to enforce the rules, and requirements to stay at the house such as the attendance of 12-step meetings among other things. What happens when rules aren’t followed? Residents must be held accountable for negative actions, such as the issuing of warnings or forcing those who don’t follow the rules to leave.

Association with Rehab Centers

There are several benefits of a halfway house being associated or owned by the rehab center that you used, such as having access to more funds and being able to contact the addiction specialist who oversaw your treatment in case of a relapse or problems.


Location can be a deciding factor for some people. For example, if the home is located near bottle stores or known locations where drug dealers are, the temptation may be too much. Conversely, if it is located in a safe neighborhood without many temptations and it is near 12-step meetings, then it can be ideal.


A home is a place to find peace and relax, and that’s difficult to do when the house is a mess. The best halfway house is one where the community takes pride in their home, keeping it clean, presentable, and livable. How clean a halfway house is can also attests to how well the residents adhere to the rules and potentially how involved and welcoming the residents may be.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at (800) 429-7690.