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The Difference Between a Sober House and a Halfway House

What is a halfway house and is it different than a sober house? A lot of people wonder if the two things are the same and, if not, what the differences might be. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that recovery housing is key to individuals entering and staying in recovery from addiction.  If you are considering seeking treatment for an addiction to drugs and alcohol that might include a halfway house or sober house, read further to understand what a halfway house is vs. a sober house.

Should You Consider What Is a Halfway House vs. a Sober Living House? 

One of the biggest challenges that someone new to sobriety faces is finding a living arrangement that will enhance their recovery after their initial detox ends. Because the early phase of recovery is particularly fraught with potholes that can quickly trigger a relapse, it’s imperative to understand the importance of planning for a way to continue to stay in a drug and alcohol-free environment. Some people enter residential treatment through a facility, while others use outpatient options.  

Another option is to consider living in a halfway house or sober house. Both of these living arrangements involve residing in a home designed to help people who are in the process of putting their lives back together. While there are certain similarities between the two classifications, there are distinct differences between the sober house and the halfway house.  Similarities include a list of rules of conduct as well as an expectation that the residents will share the chores and duties of the household.  Understanding the unique traits between the two forms of sober housing will help determine which is a good fit for you.

What is a Halfway House?

While a halfway house can be a residence that has been set aside for mandatory transitional housing for individuals recently released from jail or prison, or for the chronically mentally ill, halfway houses can also function as sober living residences.  Generally, a halfway house that has been established for sober housing requires that the residences have completed or are in the process of completing drug or alcohol rehabilitation.

Halfway houses are federally funded, so the costs of staying in one may be minimal or none at all. Because federal and state budgets are often limited and subject to repeated changes, halfway houses typically offer the bare essentials for room and board. Residents may only be allowed to stay for a short duration and required to leave after a minimal amount of time, even when they may not feel ready to step back into society fully and return home. The housing itself may be old or in a less popular area of town and usually offers little or no therapeutic support or treatment. 

Most halfway houses that exist for the purpose of sober living will offer groups and meetings that help reinforce recovery. However, there may be limits to how many clinicians are available to monitor the status of the residents and offer support. Drug and alcohol testing may not be provided, which can make it easier for residents to relapse without it coming to the attention of others quickly. Recovery from a substance use disorder proves difficult enough without living in close quarters with a population of individuals who may be quietly using drugs or drinking, thus providing temptation for others to relapse. 

Is a Halfway House the Same as a Sober House?

A sober house is a privately owned residence or group of homes that are operated for profit, and people who reside in them go there voluntarily. There is a wide spectrum of options within the sober house category, from spartan accommodations to luxurious ones. Because sober houses do not rely on federal or state budgets to dictate their locations, furnishings, or services offered, residents enjoy a richer choice of treatment services provided. 

A client is not required to have been in an addiction treatment program, although most do come to sober living following the completion of an inpatient program. Participation in weekly house meetings is usually required, which helps foster a sense of community among everyone. Great value comes from living among a group of people who all hold maintaining their recovery as their primary goal. Often, friendships made while living in sober housing continue after the residents leave, providing a source of support for when they return home.

Sober houses offer a variety of diverse styles, including ones that focus on a 12-step approach, faith-based ones, and houses that embrace a holistic approach to recovery. Many sober houses offer accommodations in modern housing or beautifully restored homes. Some provide separate apartment-type situations within one building, while others provide private or semi-private bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, and communal areas for all the residents. 

A sober house will usually have a zero-tolerance policy for drug and alcohol use or possession, as well as regular drug testing. Options for therapy are often offered, whether within the house or through outside channels. Other conveniences may be included, such as transportation to places like support group meetings, the grocery store, or medical appointments. 

Sober House Living in Los Angeles

If you or someone you love is interested in sober house living, Riviera Recovery has two gender-specific houses specifically for young adults. We provide modern housing that is pet-friendly and provides treatment for both addiction to drugs and alcohol and help to manage mental illnesses. 

Contact Riviera Recovery today and we will be happy to answer your questions about how our sober houses can help you focus on recovery in a safe environment.