When someone is struggling with a substance use disorder, the best thing they can do is seek out drug or alcohol addiction treatment. The care patients receive in rehab centers is invaluable to their recovery, and it can help them start their sobriety journey with a strong foundation under their feet.
However, addiction isn’t a condition you can cure overnight — and therefore, addiction treatment doesn’t end when a person checks out of rehab. In fact, many people choose to continue their recovery efforts through sober living or a halfway house.
What are these two programs? How can they help you or someone you love the transition from rehab to a “normal life”? Let’s examine sober living and halfway houses a little more closely.
What is Sober Living?
When it’s time to leave inpatient rehab, the staff may recommend that a patient transfer into a sober living home. This might lead to several questions, starting with “What is a sober living home?”
Simply put, a sober living house is a place where people in recovery can continue working on sobriety in a structured and substance-free environment. There are four main types of sober living facilities:
- Peer-run: a single-family home managed democratically, with one senior resident acting as “house parent” to hold others accountable while living in the facility.
- Monitored: a single-family home or group of apartments, usually run by one house manager who maintains order and facilitates programs like group therapy.
- Supervised: a facility with a team of licensed staff who help maintain order, monitor residents to ensure safety and sobriety, and help run outpatient addiction care.
- Integrated: this kind of facility is often closely connected to inpatient treatment programs. This facility has a fully licensed staff who can help continue addiction care and help teach life skills to residents planning to transition back into a normal routine.
Most sober living facilities conduct regular drug screening, and many offer group counseling and other treatment options that can help a resident maintain sobriety (though residents are not required to participate). The amount of time someone stays in a sober living house varies, but research suggests it is an average of 166-254 days.1
What is a Halfway House?
A halfway house is also a facility designed to help people transition from a structured environment, like rehab, into their normal life. Like sober living homes, the length of time in a halfway house varies. However, most residents stay between three and 12 months.
Many of the people who reside in halfway houses are mandated to be there by a court. Halfway houses also open their doors to a wider group of individuals. For example, people who have been newly released from prison or discharged from a psychiatric institution may spend time at a halfway house while they make other living arrangements.
Halfway houses are typically government-owned, and they are often much more affordable than a privately-owned sober living facility. They are also always structured and substance-free, which makes them a great choice for someone looking for a transitional place to stay after leaving drug or alcohol rehab.
Halfway Houses v. Sober Living Homes
Halfway houses and sober living homes have several things in common. But there are also some key differences that distinguish the two. Here are the ones you should take note of.
- Difference: The facility’s oversight and its source of funding.
The most significant difference between a halfway house and a sober living home is what type of institution funds and oversees it. Halfway houses are managed and funded by the US government through federal agencies like the Justice Department. Conversely, sober living homes are run by private organizations on a for-profit basis. Much of the funding for a sober living home’s operation comes from the pockets of would-be residents.
- Difference: The extent of formal addiction treatment the residents receive.
Between the two, it is a halfway house that offers formal and extensive addiction treatment. Halfway homes are mandated by the government to provide sufficient rehabilitative services as well as medical, psychiatric, and other types of support to residents. Sober living homes typically do not offer formal addiction treatment, but they may have a network of outside providers for referrals to their residents.
- Difference: The cost of residing in the facility.
The costs for residing in a halfway house versus residing in a sober living home are also very different. Since halfway houses are government-funded facilities, would-be residents can have the cost of their stay funded by their Medicaid health insurance. New residents to a sober living home, however, typically have to spend more out of pocket for their own rent. They also cover their own meals and the use of any additional amenities in the sober living home.
- Difference: Flexibility in the duration of stay.
Any residency in a halfway house is predetermined, and residents can only stay for a limited period. Six months is typically the maximum period that a resident may stay in a halfway house. In contrast, a resident in a sober living home has a lot more freedom in deciding how long they will live there. As long as they pay their rent and follow the rules of the sober living home, residents can be housed there for however long.
- Difference: The structure of the living environment.
Those who’ll be going to a halfway house can expect communal, dorm-like living arrangements for the duration of their stay. They will likely be housed in male- and female-segregated dormitories and share common living areas with other residents. Sober living homes, on the other hand, can offer residents their own rooms or apartment-style units.
Should You Stay in a Halfway House or a Sober Living Home?
Different people will find different types of substance-free living effective for their healing from addiction. What works for someone else may not work the same way for you or for a loved one. There are several factors that you should consider carefully before you choose to commit to either a halfway house or a sober living home. Here are some of them
- Access to formal addiction treatment.
The first question you have to ask is how much formal addiction treatment is needed for your situation. A halfway house’s program will guarantee you extensive rehabilitative and medical care. A sober living home does not offer this level of formal treatment in-house, although they may be able to make referrals.
- Time and distance away from outside life.
The second issue is a matter of how much time and distance the person recuperating from addiction will need from normal life. If a few months is sufficient, then the person will get the break they need in a halfway house. For a break that extends beyond six months, the best choice is a sober living home.
- Consider Cost.
How much will you be willing to pay out of pocket? If you stay at a halfway house, you can either use your insurance coverage or apply for financial assistance from the government. If you have the resources to pay from your own pocket, however, you can spend on a comfortable stay in a sober living home.
- Desire for Privacy.
The last issue is how much of a priority the resident’s privacy is. Those who are fine being in the company of other residents during their sabbatical may choose a halfway house. Those who’d like a greater degree of privacy, however, can opt to rent their own space in a sober living home.
What Should You Remember About Staying in a Substance-Free Living Environment?
Here are some additional reminders on making the best out of your stay in either environment.
- Choose the most cost-effective residence plan for your situation.
It may be expensive to stay in a substance-free environment, but it can be a good investment toward full recovery from addiction. Regardless, you should choose the most cost-effective plan and find a way to guarantee to finance well ahead of your stay.
- Follow the center’s rules and routines.
The exact rules per facility may differ, but they will always have rules in place. For your own good and for the good of the other residents, observe these rules during your stay there. Be respectful as well about the way of life the center advocates, and do your part in keeping the environment substance-free.
- Participate actively in your treatment or support group.
You will get the best out of your stay in a substance-free environment if you take an active part in its programs. If you’re receiving formal rehabilitative, medical, or psychiatric treatment for your addiction, be sure to take it seriously. Focus when it’s time for counseling, therapy, or support group activities with your Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous peers.
- Be a good companion to your fellow residents.
Halfway houses and sober living homes thrive on a sense of community. In these facilities, you can take heart from the fact that you’re not alone in combating your addiction. But in turn, it’s good for you to be there for your fellow residents and uplift them in their own journeys toward recovery.
Better Addiction Care will help you find a halfway house or sober living home in your locality. Search our listings today to find a substance-free environment that can be your temporary refuge.
How Can Sober Living and Halfway Homes Help Recovery?
As we mentioned earlier, addiction recovery is a life-long journey. This is why many patients move from their full-time rehab stay into outpatient rehab, sober living, or a halfway house, where they can take more time to focus on recovery away from any substance abuse triggers.
Some of the benefits of sober living and halfway houses include:
- Continued support
Individuals in recovery need the support of their friends and loved ones to stay sober. Sober living space or halfway house offers that support through fellow residents and the addiction experts on staff. These programs also help residents form relationships with people who are also dedicated to recovery, which can help them stay accountable after their stay ends.
- Rebuild life skills
When a person is in the throes of addiction, he or she doesn’t always take care of themselves or their space. A sober living facility or halfway house allows you the space to re-learn good habits in a structured, supportive environment. A sober living facility can help you establish hygiene routines, practice financial practices like paying rent or even find new employment.
- Gradual independence
Sober living facilities and halfway houses are transitional programs. They offer a taste of independence while maintaining some of the structure patients experience during inpatient treatment. This gives you extended time to readjust to your new, sober life and helps mitigate your risk of relapse.
How to Find a Sober Living Home or Halfway Home Near Me
If you or someone you love has gone through inpatient addiction treatment, you may benefit from time in a sober living facility or halfway house. This might lead you to search for “Sober living near me” — where you might be overwhelmed by the number of results!
The best way to find sober living programs or halfway houses near you is by calling Better Addiction Care. Our treatment advisors can help you narrow down the list of sober living centers near you and find the facility that best meets your needs.
Our team can work with you to find the perfect program based on your substance use history, location, insurance coverage, and more. With our help, you can find a sober living home or halfway house that will help you build a foundation for life-long sobriety.
Get Help with Better Addiction Care
Better Addiction Care has treatment advisors ready to take your call 24/7. Calls are always free and confidential, so you can feel comfortable calling us whenever you’re ready.
Contact Better Addiction Care today and take a step to help yourself or your loved one stand up against addiction. One phone call could be the first step toward a happier and healthier future.
- Polcin, D., Ed.D., et. al. (2011, March 15). “What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go from Here?” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. Retrieved March 30, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3057870/
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