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What Is Sober Living?


teens in a sober living home

After completing detox and addiction treatment, newly sober individuals need to continue receiving the support they deserve. This often includes finding a stable living environment that is free of drugs or alcohol. Even the most highly motivated people can find it hard to remain sober if there are drugs or alcohol in their living space when they are newly sober.

A sober living program is one way that individuals in early recovery can help themselves during their initial period of sobriety. Sober living programs offer a safe space for individuals in the early stages of recovery from substance abuse to continue their transition to everyday life.

The History of Sober Living

Sober living is not a new concept. In fact, the earliest sober living spaces first appeared during the 1830s. These facilities were typically run by the YMCA, YWCA, the Salvation Army, or other like-minded religious groups. Often called dry hotels or lodging houses, these sober living spaces were an outgrowth of the Temperance Movement and offered a safe space for people to escape any societal pressure to drink.

After World War II, groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) began to develop across the country. These organizations created 12-step houses that offered an alcohol or drug-free living space while also encouraging attendance at AA meetings.

Today, sober living programs are often run by professional addiction treatment programs and are staffed by licensed clinicians rather than volunteers or religious communities.

Sober Living vs. Halfway House

While sober living houses and halfway houses share a focus on providing safe, substance-free environments for newly sober people, there are some differences. First, many sober living houses today are either run by or work in tandem with professional addiction recovery or treatment centers. They typically offer a private, residential-style living environment in homes across the country. Some insurance plans may cover some of the cost of sober living, but residents often pay out of pocket.

A halfway house is typically affiliated with a government agency. As a result, they are typically dorm-like in their living arrangements, resulting in less privacy for residents, but are frequently less expensive.

Benefits of Sober Living Homes

Learning to live without drugs or alcohol can be challenging. Spending time in a sober living program can help a newly sober person navigate the transition from rehab to everyday life more smoothly. The benefits of this type of environment include:

  • Receiving constant guidance and support from house managers and the other residents
  • Developing meaningful and supportive relationships with others who understand the challenges of sobriety and who are also in recovery
  • Putting structure back into life, from how to eat right to keeping a clean home and more
  • Rediscovering what it means to live an independent life by taking responsibility and making healthy choices
  • Easing back into everyday life outside of the treatment setting by learning to manage work or relationships
  • Managing the risk of relapse away from outside pressures

How to Find the Right Sober Living Program

If you think a sober living house might be the best environment for you as you prepare for your next step in your sobriety journey, ensure that the facility you are considering is properly run. A reputable sober living program will fully inform prospective residents of any fees or charges for their stay upfront. A quality sober living house will also be well-maintained, clean, and have ample space for all residents. Make sure to visit the location in person for a tour and do not rely solely on website images.

Avoid any facility that does not keep records or does not have clearly stated admissions requirements. All sober living environments should have clear expectations of residents in terms of recovery goals and standard admission protocols to ensure those expectations are met. This should include standard drug testing procedures. If a resident fails to meet those requirements, the sober living program should take appropriate action.

Reputable sober living spaces will often have “house rules” that residents are expected to follow. These can range from regular chores to safety and privacy provisions such as separate bathrooms for different genders.

Program staff should have proper training and accreditation, and the residence should submit to regular inspections to ensure the highest standard of care. Additionally, many sober living programs work in conjunction with an addiction treatment program. If you’re seeking recommendations for sober living in the Houston area, we can help.

If you or someone you love needs help with addiction, the licensed professionals at Into Action Recovery can help. Our multidisciplinary staff works closely with each client to develop a customized plan for overcoming their addiction that prepares them for long-term sobriety. This targeted treatment addresses each client’s individual needs, identifying the tools and resources that can lead them to continued success.

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