What Is A Halfway House?

A halfway house is a community-based accommodation that aims to provide a safe and structured environment for those in recovery from alcohol or substance use. Residents of halfway houses are most often transitioning from an inpatient rehab center or incarceration with the completion of a substance treatment program.

A halfway house serves as an environment to bridge a completed rehab or substance use treatment program to regular life, allowing a person to reintegrate into society functionally. They offer a safe space and time away from typical triggers of addiction while providing connections to additional resources and services to promote long-term recovery.

The structured environment of halfway houses usually includes support staff like a house manager and medical and mental health professionals. The presence of supportive staff, coupled with residents who are also in a similar stage of their recovery, helps a person develop life and social skills to better cope with the reintegration into society.

What Services Are Provided?

Services provided vary by location, but the primary goal of all halfway houses is to help residents adjust to a sober life and reintegrate into society. They accomplish this by connecting residents to local resources, such as clinics and peer-support programs, like 12-Step meetings, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Attendance in continuing drug/alcohol therapy programs and the securing of a sponsor is often enforced as part of the halfway house rules to help maintain recovery.

Many houses offer help searching for employment or volunteer activities, including application and resume help and interview preparations.

Halfway houses may also assist in searching for a safe place to live. This service is provided particularly for those residents who may be homeless or those who think their current home environment is dangerous or will cause them to relapse. Since most halfway houses are state-funded, a maximum length of stay may be enforced to help keep spots open, making re-housing services crucial.

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What To Expect At A Halfway House

Stays in halfway houses are often court-mandated, so one should expect a regimented schedule that encourages residents to seek employment and get back on their feet. You can expect staff to be on-site and to enforce house rules, such as curfews and regular drug testing. These steps help maintain a drug-free and more structured environment to keep yourself accountable once you move on.

Living arrangements in a halfway house are typically two to three people sharing a bedroom. There may also be larger rooms housing multiple residents in bunk beds. Although halfway houses are often funded by state governments, there may be a small weekly or monthly fee. You can also expect to provide your own toiletries and food.

The length of stay can vary according to the level of care provided at the halfway house you choose. Most houses encourage a minimum stay of at least two to three months and may have a maximum stay between six months to one year to promote progress. Inquire about the various lengths of stay that the halfway houses near you may offer when doing your research.

What Are The Rules Of A Halfway House?

Halfway houses will have some general rules to ensure the safety and sobriety of all its residents, including:

  • Complete abstinence from alcohol and drugs.
  • Random drug testing to ensure abstinence and compliance.
  • Conduct rules such as forbidding any fighting (verbal or physical) between staff and residents.
  • Attendance of skills meetings and 12-step meetings.
  • Maintaining employment or volunteer positions.
  • Visitation restrictions.
  • Nightly curfews.

Although most halfway houses have a similar structure, each facility has different requirements and expectations of its residents, so it’s best to ask the facility you’re interested in about rules. The rules facilitate the continued success in your recovery, so it’s vital — and in the best interest of your sobriety — to follow them.

What Are The Benefits Of A Halfway House?

Halfway houses have many benefits, especially if you utilize all they offer during your time there. First and foremost, halfway houses give you time to learn and implement more social and life tools to help you maintain and lead a sober and rewarding life.

They are a great soft-landing when re-entering society after addiction treatment and offer an atmosphere of peers who may be on the same recovery path as you, creating a validating and supportive environment. The slow reintegration into society including a routine schedule and accountability may help create a solid foundation to rebuild a sober life.

Are They Effective?

Multiple studies have shown that halfway houses have proven effective in maintaining an improved sober life from drugs and alcohol after completing a stay. Additionally, the studies showed:

  • General improvements in employment.
  • Employment retention.
  • Reduction in psychiatric symptoms.
  • Reduction in arrests.

Halfway houses have been shown to reduce outside triggers that can lead to relapse and to provide peer support. Furthermore, structured halfway houses have been shown to teach residents accountability for their actions and choices, ultimately and effectively leading to a maintained sober life.

Differences Between Halfway Houses And Sober Living Homes

Although sober living homes and halfway houses have some similarities, they have many differences.

Halfway Houses

  • Owned or sponsored by state governments
  • Structured environment
  • Enforced continued substance abuse treatment
  • Often court-mandated
  • Supportive, peer-living environment
  • May have a time limit for residency

Sober Living Homes

  • Privately funded or connected to treatment facilities
  • Do not often employ clinical staff
  • Independent-living atmosphere
  • Voluntary stays
  • Opportunity for longer stays

Find Continuing Support From Halfway Homes

Reintegrating into society while maintaining your sobriety can be daunting, but living in a halfway house may help make the transition easier, giving you more resources and tools to do so, as well as a safe space to apply those skills.

If you’re considering your options after the completion of a treatment program, contact a treatment provider today and continue your journey to a sober life.