What is a Sober Living House?
What is a Sober Living House?

Sober living houses are sober living environments that provide safe, supportive, and structured living for individuals who are in the process of healing and recovering from drugs and/or alcohol. These houses support individuals who are in the in-between of transitioning from a treatment program back into society.

The National Association of Recovery Residences defines four different types of sober-living houses, which include the following:
Level 1 Peer-Run: This is typically a single-family home that is overseen by a senior resident also known as the house manager who helps to hold the other residents accountable. Drug screens, house meetings, and adhering to house rules are typical, however, there are no paid positions within the sober living house at this level.
Level 2 Monitored: A monitored recovery residence is one that has an external management structure. These are also typically single-family homes or apartments. Drug screens, house meetings, and adhering to house rules are required, and there can be at least one paid position overseeing the house and residents.
Level 3 Supervised: Supervised recovery residences have more intense levels of oversight than monitored residences. There is typically an on-site staff member who provides 24/7 support to residents. Life skills development is emphasized, and clinical services are provided outside of sober-living services. Staff are certified, and drug screenings are standard along with adhering to other requirements.
Level 4 Service Provided: Service provider recovery residences are typically operated by organizations or corporations. These residences offer a wide range of services and activities for their residents. The staff levels in these facilities are higher than levels 1-3, and the environments may feel more structured and institutionalized. Drug screens, house meetings, and adhering to house rules are required.

Sober living houses and halfway houses share a lot in common, however, there are important differences. For one, halfway houses are often owned or sponsored by the state, while most sober living houses are owned privately and/or by a treatment facility that wants to provide continued support to their client(s). The individuals who reside in a sober living house are often involved in a treatment program and/or referred after they complete, their substance abuse treatment. These individuals are also active in a twelve-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) whereas individuals who reside in a halfway house may not be active in a recovery program. Also, individuals who reside in halfway houses are often court-mandated to live there and are sent from a correctional facility rather than a substance abuse facility.

Sober living houses have rules and regulations and for the most part, they are standard across the board if it’s a credible sober living house. Credible sober living houses are accredited by the Florida Association Of Recovery Residences (FARR) to ensure the integrity of the residence, and residents’ rights, provide a safe home and ultimately support the health and recovery of everyone. Some rules include but aren’t limited to adhering to curfew, being able to provide consistent, negative urine screens and/or breathalyzers, responsible for completing house chores, complying with substance abuse treatment recommendations if the person is active in a program, as well as, engaging in a twelve-step or some other community support program as part of long-term recovery.

The cost for sober living houses varies based on the type of sober-living house and length of stay. Often, there is a “move-in” fee then rent is due on a weekly basis. Its recommended payments are discussed prior to agreeing to move in and once a resident, the payment is submitted to the house manager or known point person. It’s important to share, there are some sober living houses that will waive the “move-in” fee and/or offer a scholarship for someone in need.

Sober living houses are typically affiliated with substance abuse treatment programs so obtaining a referral for the treatment provider is recommended. Especially because treatment centers are connected to credible sober living houses to ensure safety and an appropriate fit for the individual in need. There are other ways to identify sober living houses such as medical and mental health providers, through a private practice therapist who specializes in addiction, from members of a twelve-step fellowship, and even from friends or family who have experience.
Recommended to always do your research, tour different houses, ask questions, and make an informed choice as it’s your life.

There is evidence that shows residing in a sober living house supports a higher chance of long-term sobriety as these homes provide key needs: accountability, community, and structure. However, it’s important to understand it truly depends on the individual. There have been people who have succeeded greatly while residing in sober living houses and they have been others who have struggled to maintain sobriety. Neither have anything to do with the house but rather the individual and their level of commitment, motivation, readiness to change, and follow through.

Stephanie Robilio, LCSW
Published Author
Chief Clinical Officer at Agape Behavioral Healthcare

To learn more about Stephanie visit www.stephanierobilio.com and follow her on Instagram @stephanierobilio, Facebook @stephanierobilio, and subscribe to her on YouTube Stephanie Robilio. Find all of Stephanie’s books on Amazon: WellNowMindful MakeoverPainted Soul, and Bonafide Spirit. To join real conversations about what it takes to achieve optimal wellness in mind, body, and spirit, check out The Mindful Living Podcast on Spotify.

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