What is a Sober Living House?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 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.

Understanding the Levels of Sober Living Houses
The National Association of Recovery Residences categorizes sober living houses into four distinct levels, each offering varying degrees of structure and support. Level 1 Peer-Run residences are overseen by a senior resident, fostering accountability among residents without paid staff. Level 2 Monitored houses introduce external management structures, with at least one paid position overseeing residents’ adherence to rules and regulations. Level 3 Supervised residences offer intensified oversight, with on-site staff providing round-the-clock support and emphasizing life skills development alongside clinical services. Level 4 Service Provided houses, typically operated by organizations, offer comprehensive services and activities, featuring higher staff levels and a more institutionalized environment.
Distinguishing Sober Living Houses from Halfway Houses
While sober living houses and halfway houses share similarities, crucial distinctions exist. Sober living houses, predominantly privately owned, cater to individuals engaged in or completing substance abuse treatment, actively participating in recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. In contrast, halfway houses, often state-owned or sponsored, frequently accommodate court-mandated individuals transitioning from correctional facilities, with less emphasis on active participation in recovery programs.

Upholding Standards and Regulations
Credible sober living houses adhere to standardized rules and regulations, accredited by organizations such as the Florida Association of Recovery Residences (FARR). These regulations encompass curfew adherence, regular negative substance screenings, completion of house chores, and engagement in substance abuse treatment and community support programs. Such standards aim to ensure residents’ safety, rights, and holistic recovery.

Financial Considerations and Affiliation with Treatment Programs
The cost of residing in a sober living house varies depending on its type and duration of stay, typically involving move-in fees and weekly rent payments. Affiliation with substance abuse treatment programs facilitates referrals to credible sober living houses, ensuring alignment with individuals’ needs and treatment goals. Recommendations from medical professionals, therapists specializing in addiction, and peers further aid in identifying suitable sober living arrangements.

Navigating the Path to Long-Term Sobriety
Evidence suggests that sober living houses enhance the likelihood of sustained sobriety by providing essential elements such as accountability, community, and structure. However, success in maintaining sobriety ultimately hinges on individual commitment, motivation, and readiness for change. While residing in a sober living house offers invaluable support, achieving long-term sobriety requires active engagement and perseverance on the part of the individual. Thus, thorough research, thoughtful consideration, and informed decision-making are pivotal in embarking on the journey to recovery.

Fostering Accountability and Community
One of the hallmark benefits of residing in a sober living house is the cultivation of accountability and a sense of community. Residents hold each other accountable for adhering to house rules and participating in recovery-oriented activities. This communal support fosters a sense of belonging and camaraderie, vital for individuals navigating the challenges of sobriety. Moreover, sharing experiences and insights with peers in similar circumstances facilitates mutual encouragement and growth, strengthening individuals’ resolve to maintain sobriety.

Embracing Structure and Routine
Structured environments provided by sober living houses offer residents a framework for establishing healthy routines and habits. Daily schedules typically include chores, group meetings, therapy sessions, and recreational activities, instilling discipline and purpose in residents’ lives. Such structure not only minimizes idle time, reducing the likelihood of relapse, but also promotes self-discipline and time-management skills essential for long-term recovery.

Promoting Personal Growth and Development
Sober living houses prioritize residents’ holistic development by emphasizing life skills acquisition and personal growth. Through workshops, educational sessions, and individualized support, residents are equipped with practical tools to navigate real-world challenges post-recovery. From budgeting and job readiness to conflict resolution and emotional regulation, these interventions empower individuals to thrive independently and sustain their sobriety beyond the confines of the sober living environment.

Navigating Challenges and Celebrating Milestones
While residing in a sober living house presents its share of challenges, it also offers opportunities for personal triumphs and milestones. Overcoming obstacles, whether internal or external, strengthens residents’ resilience and self-confidence. Celebrating achievements, no matter how small, reinforces individuals’ sense of accomplishment and motivates them to persist in their journey toward long-term sobriety. By embracing both the trials and triumphs of recovery, residents forge a path of growth, healing, and transformation.

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