What Is A Sober Living Home?

Sober living homes aim to provide healthy environments that support recovery. Four levels of sober living exist, including:

  • Level 1: Fully peer-run
  • Level 2: Monitored with at least one paid staff
  • Level 3: Supervised with certified staff
  • Level 4: Clinical and administrative supervision with credentialed staff

Sober living homes are places where someone in recovery can find independence while learning to seek and obtain community resources necessary for long-term recovery.

Sober Living Homes Versus Halfway Houses

Sober living homes are different than halfway houses in that halfway houses are transitional living spaces for people who have been incarcerated and need a place to live while transitioning back into the community. Someone living in a halfway house is under the supervision of probation or parole. They are not able to come and go without approval.

In contrast, choosing to stay in a sober living home is often a voluntary decision made by someone who is transitioning from an inpatient treatment setting or for a person in the community who may be struggling with continued sobriety and would benefit from a sober environment to avoid the chance of relapse.

Featured Centers with Sober Living Options

How Does Sober Living Work?

Residents aren’t bound to the sober living home. Individuals in recovery should feel like they are easing back into everyday life and can start returning to their daily tasks and responsibilities. However, although these residences are less restrictive than inpatient facilities, they still have rules that residents must abide by.

Expectations of residents may include:

  • Attending 12-step programs
  • Being accountable
  • Creating a sober fellowship
  • Creating positive friendships that help to reinforce abstinence
  • Being involved in mutual aid support
  • Fostering communal learning
  • Undergoing drug screenings

This built-in support system allows residents to avoid the isolation of returning home while recovering. It further provides an environment to support recovery from substance abuse for those who are emerging from rehab.

Acceptance to a sober living home means residents agree to the rules, schedules, and guidelines that support recovery. However, each level of sober living home has different rules and restrictions. Below is a more detailed description of the four levels.

Level One

People in recovery receive peer support and accountability in a level-one sober living home. There aren’t any paid staff members. Residents may choose to engage in community support groups, counseling, and anything else to help them stay sober. Many level-one sober homes have on-site support groups.

With little structure and monitoring, someone new in their recovery may want to a higher-level sober living home. Oxford Houses is an example of a level one sober home.

Level Two

At this level, a house manager may reside in the house and will typically be a peer in long-term recovery. The manager orients new residents and explains the rules and expectations.

Level two sober homes provide more structure than level one. At this level, it is often mandatory for residents to participate in community meetings, house meetings, mutual support groups, buddy systems, and outside clinical appointments. California Sober Living is an example of a level-two sober home.

Level Three

Level three sober homes include more governance and leadership, a daily schedule that meets recovery needs, and peer support.

Expectations include attending life skills training, community meetings, house meetings, and clinical and peer support services. A paid house manager, administrative staff, and certified peer recovery support staff are at level three. Peer coaching, peer supervision, and peer workers are available.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) fully endorses level three sober homes.

Level Four

Level four has the most structure and monitoring. Staff with credentials offer on-site clinical services. Other on-site services include meetings, support groups, and life skill training.

Level four sober homes are typically a branch of a larger organization with a hierarchy of authority. Resident stays are shorter at this level but with the most intense format. Therapeutic Communities (TCs) are an example of level four sober home living.

What Are The Benefits Of Sober Living?

The benefits of sober living match the best practices set by SAMSHA. In a sober living home, residents gain the following:

  • Time to practice living a sober lifestyle
  • Safe and stable living environment
  • Skills to maintain recovery
  • Employment and financial responsibility
  • Positive personal and peer relationships
  • Community network of resources
  • Evidence-based practices regarding medication and treatment

What Are The Rules Of Sober Living?

Aside from expectations connected to recovery, sober living homes have rules that apply to any shared residential space.

Basic rules include:

  • Keeping personal areas clean
  • Helping with household chores and cooking
  • Being respectful to others
  • Avoid causing disturbances

Some homes require signing out when leaving the home and signing in when returning. Although residents can leave, they must return by curfew. Getting a job or volunteering may also be part of some sober living programs.

How Much Do Sober Living Homes Cost?

Most sober living homes must charge a fee to maintain the house, pay taxes, and pay staff. However, they aim to make these fees (paid in the form of rent) affordable. One way they do this is by structuring their rooms for a semi-private living situation (meaning two people will often share a room). Even so, rent can vary greatly, with some rooms available from $500 up to $900 or more a month. Costs will differ depending on the living situation (private vs. shared room), staff pay rates, and, most significantly, the home’s location.

Most sober living homes are privately run and not government-funded, but financing options may be available. Some residents have family members or friends to help them pay for sober living. Others must find employment near their sober home. Finding employment is a great recovery resource. It can build self-esteem, teach residents about finances, and become responsible members of the community.

Positive Outcomes

Research shows sober living homes produce positive outcomes. A study in the Alcohol Treatment Quarterly journal found the following:

  • Abstinence at the 18-month follow-up
  • Improvements in mental health
  • Higher employment rates
  • Reduction in substance misuse
  • Higher self-confidence and self-efficacy
  • Increases in support group attendance

Who Should Consider A Sober Living Home?

There is a continuum of care in substance abuse treatment that includes sober living. Anyone who is being discharged successfully from an inpatient rehab setting should consider transitioning to a sober living home.

Certain factors suggest a person should make sober living a priority, like the following:

  • The living situation they return to will make it difficult to avoid relapse.
  • Their home environment makes them feel isolated, with no support.
  • They need improvement in employment, socialization, and other life skills.
  • They are not confident in being able to maintain recovery.

Get Help For Addiction

Sober living homes can be beneficial for those who are transitioning from inpatient treatment, but they may be too far ahead in the process for many who are looking to start their recovery journey.

If you are ready to take back control of your life and enter addiction treatment, contact a treatment provider today to explore your rehab options. You can also explore our rehab directory to find treatment options, including sober living homes, near you.