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Sober Living vs. Halfway House: Making The Right Choice For Your Recovery

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The right choice for your recovery could include finding a safe place to transition between inpatient rehab and everyday life. Learn the difference between sober living vs halfway house lifestyle. Even after long-term residential treatment, you might need additional time to practice the skills you’ll need for long-term recovery. Sober living homes and halfway houses could be an option if you need stable and safe housing after active treatment.

If you are currently in treatment or detox, you might be wondering what your next step in recovery will be. By planning your next move before you are discharged from your current program, you can feel more confident about the next steps in your recovery.

What is the Difference Between a Sober Living Home and a Halfway House?

There are a few differences between sober living vs halfway house living. The following lists show the contrasts and similarities between the two options.

  • Halfway houses:
    • Residents could be in addiction treatment, seeking stable housing after incarceration, or homeless individuals 
    • Most residents could be living in a halfway house as a court order following release from prison
    • Halfway houses are usually government-funded at little or no cost to the residents
    • Housing is often “dormitory-style” without private rooms and few amenities included
  • Sober living homes:
    • Residents in sober living are all working on recovery from drug or alcohol addiction
    • Most residents are in a sober living home voluntarily or on a referral from a rehab facility
    • Sober living homes might be covered by insurance, paid for out-of-pocket, through government funding, donations, or a combination of these fuding sources
    • Sober living programs provide a homelike atmosphere, sometimes with private rooms and numerous amenities
  • Both halfway houses and sober living homes:
    • Have some level of structure, accountability, and supervision for the residents
    • Help those with unstable housing find a place to live after leaving the residence
    • Strict “no drug or alcohol” policies that could lead to an immediate discharge from the residence
    • The purpose of both programs is to ensure safety as you build the skills you need to live independently

Each of these options could help you with your recovery. However, sober living homes usually offer much more support, structure, privacy, and programming than traditional halfway houses.

Benefits of Sober Living Compared To A Halfway Houses

While either type of housing program could help you on your way to independent living, sober living homes provide unique benefits to those in addiction recovery that halfways houses might fall short of. Sober living homes can improve your chances of success in recovery over halfway houses.

According to a 2011 study by the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, halfway houses have some of the following limitations:

  • Limited time within the program, and “residents are required to move out whether or not they feel ready for independent living”
  • Government funding could leave programs vulnerable to budget cuts
  • Require that residents “have completed or be involved in some type of formal treatment”

While most people in sober living homes have been in treatment, sober living offers recovery beyond the context of treatment. Your primary focus during a sober living program is to learn the life skills needed to maintain sobriety outside of treatment. These programs include recreational activities and planned events to teach you how to enjoy life without drugs or alcohol.

You might have some form of treatment to continue, like outpatient therapy; however, sober living homes are generally structured around peer support. Where a halfway house might have residents who are not coming from an addiction background, sober living homes are exclusively for like-minded peers in recovery from substance abuse. 

Sober living homes offer structured programming specifically regarding recovery, including:

  • Accountability: You and your peers in the home help to keep one another accountable for your goals. You might have regular or randomized drug screenings to ensure that you are on track.
  • Character growth: Sober living focuses on building your self-esteem and confidence as you foster a sense of belonging within the community.
  • Life skills: Residents of sober living homes share chores to learn how to cooperate with others and keep a healthy home. You can also build skills needed to find a job, attend or finish schooling, manage finances, and balance your recovery with other areas of life. 

Sober Living to Maintain Long-Term Recovery

Relapse is always a risk for those in recovery. You might be triggered by certain life events or unexpected changes that cause you to have cravings again, even after years of recovery. Sober living homes can help you stay sober during times of high stress and vulnerability.

For example, you might struggle around the holiday season, as many in recovery do. Taking up residence in a sober living home during this time of the year can help you get through the holidays without relapsing on drugs or alcohol.

For those who have been in treatment and recovery for the long term, sober living homes could be a preventative measure for relapse. You might use sober living to get through a tough time in your life when you only need additional support to maintain sobriety.

Sober Living Homes in Los Angeles, CA

You might wonder about the differences between sober living vs. halfway houses as you continue your journey in recovery. Miracle House Foundation offers sober living and life coaching at affordable prices for men in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Contact us today to get started.

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