Guide to Sober Living

A Helpful and Effective Guide to Sober Living

Sober living is referred to as an informal type of treatment that is designed for substance use disorders. There are housing options where an individual recovering from substance abuse and addiction resides with other people in the same bandwagon. Programs of sober living are made to stop the abuse of drugs and alcohol within a facility that offers a stable and safe environment where substance use and abuse is not tolerated.

Sober living houses are either individually operated or an organization owns and operates the facility where there are regulations and general guidelines that will be observed and followed by the home. Due to the minimal regulation in sober living houses, programs may highly vary wherein one house could be more democratic with their housemates in terms of decision-making inside the house while others are regularly monitored and supervised.

Sober Living Key Features

Social support that is available and accessible within the house or facility is the primary feature in all sober living settings. It is proven that recovering addicts with steady social support groups to turn to and who discourages substance abuse and addiction have higher chances of ending substance use disorder and enjoy longer recovery periods.

These are some of the top features of recovery-supporting sober living houses:

  • The house or facility is designed as a drug-free setting for individuals that want to avoid the use of drugs and alcohol. Sober living house requires sobriety above all else.
  • In sober living houses, residents are encouraged to set and work on a specific goal such as finding a job, completing school or putting their monetary affairs in order.
  • Most sober living houses guarantee abstinence from substance use through requiring periodic drug testing.
  • Residents of sober living houses are encouraged to undergo and participate in 12-step meetings or group therapy sessions.
  • All sober living residents are required to follow the rules, complete chores, actively participate especially during house meetings, prepare meals, and most importantly, avoid substance use.


Sober living environments highlight responsibility and structure with the balance of fellowship and freedom in order to have extended sobriety and this is what appeals most to recovering addicts. People in recovery are given the assistance they need for making new decisions and developing problem-solving skills with daily interactions in sober living houses.


Sober Living – Similarities and Differences to Other Programs

A lot of initiatives have been continuously making progress to address the problem of substance abuse and addiction and sober living are just one of them. Sober living homes have similarities, as well as differences, to other programs that are designed to help individuals with substance abuse disorder.


Take a look at the features that make sober living houses similar and different to other programs:

Sober Living Houses vs. Halfway Houses

Sober living facilities are designed as options for individuals in recovery and the closest resemblance of these houses to halfway houses is that they serve as a venue or placement for those who recently completed their residential rehabilitation program. These houses are where they reside before they transition back and return home.

The difference between sober living and halfway houses are:

  • Halfway houses have limits in terms of the length of time of residence in the facility while sober living houses do not.
  • Halfway houses are government-funded while sober living houses are usually owned and operated by an individual or organization.
  • In halfway houses, the source of funding is the one controlling the guidelines and rules of the house while in most sober living settings, residents are encouraged to take part in the decision-making if the facility does not have a house manager that monitors the house.
  • Halfway houses require formal substance use treatment for residents during their stay.
  • Halfway houses typically provide placement for former convicts including sex and violent offenders.

Sober Living Houses vs. Residential Rehab Programs

Sober living houses have similarities to residential rehabilitation programs in terms of focusing on ending substance use and abuse in an individual. The recovering person is removed from his current environment and relocated to a setting that highlights the development of recovery skills and avoiding any triggers of relapse in his immediate environment.

The difference between sober living and rehab programs are:

  • Sober living houses have less restrictive environments while residential rehab programs have limitations especially on leaving the rehab facility.
  • Rehab programs are designed for the treatment of substance addicts who are new to substance addiction recovery.
  • Rehab facilities have professional staffs such as specialists in substance abuse, mental health, and medical-related treatment.
  • Rehab facilities are expensive especially in cases when the insurance will not fully cover the treatment. Most programs have 90-day duration that could be cost-prohibitive.
  • Rehab program durations vary between 30 and 90 days.

There are other treatment approaches that are comparable to sober living settings including partial hospitalization, day treatment programs, and outpatient intensive programs. These programs allow the recovering individual to leave the facility during weekdays. Clients are required to have formalized treatment while they can go back home during nighttime and weekends. Although these programs could significantly help in the individual’s addiction treatment, it could leave him susceptible to relapse and cravings especially during off hours.

Are you the right candidate for a sober living?

Sober living has risks and rewards but it could be the right option if:

  • You have previous unsuccessful attempts or got unwanted results from halfway house or rehab programs.
  • You did not get the benefit you need from an outpatient program.
  • You do not have a strong and stable support system to assist in your goals to find and maintain sobriety.
  • You need to keep your employment and another lifestyle in a restriction-free


Sober living is not right for you if:

  • You are actively using a substance which calls for more intense treatment such as safe detox.
  • You have a history of aggression and violence, especially towards new people.
  • You cannot afford to share the fees in the facility.


Find a Sober Living Program

Sober living houses greatly improve your chances of stay sober and substance-free. Although it is challenging to find a sober living house near you, the inconvenience is worth it all. Speak with your treatment provider regarding reputable sober living programs. Find a home, look around, and speak to the residents before making any major commitments.