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Sober Living vs Halfway House: What’s the Difference?

This is huge as most inmates heavily struggle with getting jobs after completing their sentences. Back then, sober living homes acted as “dry” hotels that didn’t allow their residents to consume alcohol. These housing facilities are made just for people that are new to recovery from alcohol or drug addiction. Halfway houses have rules to enforce the sober environment of the home. A strict abstinence policy is central to the policies of all halfway houses. Residents are expected to participate in rehabilitative programs and to complete all court-mandated requirements, such as community service.

  • In this phase, the individual takes on more responsibility daily to build stress tolerance while gaining more freedom, such as being allowed to return to school or work alone.
  • Additionally, halfway houses customarily require residents to be enrolled in a treatment program or to have recently completed such a program.
  • Is a health and wellness community that sets its goals around wellness, independence, and community.

Sober living homes became popular by establishing homes to specifically help those who were struggling with addiction and alcoholism. Sober living homes were created by people in recovery, who saw the need for adequate housing for people in recovery. The first known halfway house was created in 1864 as the “Temporary Asylum for Discharged Female Prisoners”. This initial house was obviously for female prisoners who needed a place to learn how to live, how to adapt to society, and what to do with their lives next. Halfway houses are cheaper because they get their funding from taxpayer’s money.

How a Sober Living Facility Is Different from a Halfway House

Because halfway houses are government-run and typically used for court-ordered stays, the living situation may be less than ideal compared to sober living facilities where residents pay rent. The halfway houses are often fully occupied and set up like a dormitory. Sober living is organized like a private residence with privileges to privacy and space. Research published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs discussed how sober living spaces mimic comfortable homes because “the fees from residents sustain certain privileges”.


Many sober living homes also foster an informal sponsor-sponsee relationship to help residents stay on track in their recovery journey. Sober living homes refer to community residences where people temporarily stay until they are ready to live independently. People whose communities have a drug problem choose these homes because they are drug-free environments. Likewise, persons without support systems benefit from peer support during their stay.

What Is the Purpose of a Halfway House?

Sober living is just like it sounds, a place to stay where you’ll have a supportive community and can start your new life free from alcohol or other drugs. Residents in sober-living homes commit to abstaining from substance use while participating in outpatient programming or after completing inpatient drug rehab. It’s always a good idea to speak with the sober living home directly to get a better understanding of the cost and any available payment options.

Both institutions exist in the phase of a person’s life but there are some very important distinctions between the two. The following are some histories, explanations, and distinctions for both halfway houses and sober living homes. The primary focus of halfway houses is to help reformed convicts gain self-sufficiency and to treat those with mental disorders.

The Sober Living Movement

Sobriety—Residents in halfway houses are required to be abstinent from substances, which may include random drug and alcohol testing. But these transitional housing institutions are a stepping stone for many people looking to re-enter the general population. That being said, halfway houses certainly aren’t all negative but they aren’t all positive either. But let’s start with the history of halfway houses as they come from humble beginnings.

Our experienced team of sober house vs halfway houses are able to answer your questions regarding our sober living houses. Contact us today to learn more and see if our residences can help you continue your recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Sober living homes have staff members who are responsible for enforcing these rules to ensure that the environment is free of drugs and the individuals you are not tempted to relapse. Sober Living homes are a further step-down option from halfway house living or can be the initial direction an individual uses when stepping down from inpatient care. The difference is that sober housing will always require rent to be privately paid.

Sober Living Programs vs. Halfway Houses in California

Available at this type of facilities can be beneficial for individuals struggling to stay sober. New patients are admitted in individual rooms providing one-to-one services and programming. As they become more independent, the dorms become bigger so that by the time the patient leaves, they are living in the 50–100-person dorm described above. The Turman Halfway House, a Texas Department of Juvenile Justice halfway house in Austin, Texas, USA. Our focus at BlueCrest is on solutions to addiction and mental health challenges, not living in the problem.

  • Nevertheless, persons in treatment can still stay in these homes, especially individuals in outpatient rehab who want to avoid environmental triggers.
  • Both halfway houses and sober houses offer a supportive and structured living environment for individuals in recovery, but the specific focus and services provided may vary depending on the facility.
  • California sober living homes are not treatment centers and do not offer professional treatment or care.
  • Many people use the terms sober house and halfway house interchangeably, but they are actually quite different.
  • Also, to avoid a relapse, the sober living home encourages residents without a job to actively commit to seeking a job and make advancements towards a career or personal goal.
  • Suppose you’ve recently relapsed and found that the stress of being in environments around alcohol and drugs or a lack of structure is particularly triggering.

Most people move into a sober living home after receiving professional addiction treatment. The most significant factor that should play a role in your decision to live in a sober living home is the need to live in a drug-free environment, away from regular stressors and triggers. In all sober living homes, the general rule is that residents cannot use or bring drugs or alcohol into the house. Group sessions provide a platform for residents to share their experiences in sobriety and get support from others. Former residents also visit during these sessions to share their experiences and encourage newer residents.


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