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Sober Living Homes

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What is a Sober Living Program?

Sober living programs offer extended support to recovering addicts. Most program participants are in the process of transitioning from intensive substance abuse treatment to independent living. They all share the common goal of gaining total independence following sobriety. 

According to an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) survey completed by 6,000+ recovering addicts:1

  • 27% of the participants maintained sobriety for less than a year
  • 24% remained sober for 1 to 5 years
  • 13% were able to stay sober for 5 to 10 years
  • 14% maintained sobriety for 10 to 20 years
  • 22% remained sober for 20 years or more
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What Is a Sober Living Home? 

After successfully completing an addiction rehabilitation treatment, participants of a sober living program receive continuing care in a clinically supervised recovery home. This is also known as a sober living home. 

You can find most sober living houses in residential neighborhoods around the world. This location setting is most comfortable and ideal for people trying to reintegrate into society.

The aftermath of an inpatient stay isn’t exempt from obstacles, roadblocks, or temptations as the person adjusts to day-to-day life. The relapse rate for substance use disorder (SUD) falls between 40% and 60%.2

Sober living houses are beneficial for people who aren’t yet stable enough to return home. They provide people with a safe space to apply what they’ve learned in rehab and reduce their relapse risk.

If you or someone you know is going through the recovery stages of addiction, help is available. Discharge right after an inpatient stay doesn’t always lead to long-term sobriety. At any moment, relapse can happen.

How Do Sober Living Houses Work?

Sober living homes are alcohol-free and drug-free living environments. Residents may have to adhere to certain house rules while there, such as: 

  • Attending house meetings and support group sessions
  • Participating in a 12-step program or counseling sessions outside of the home
  • Complying with random drug screenings
  • Completing assigned chores
  • Performing community service 
  • Going to work at scheduled times  
  • Having an alcohol-free meal with housemates
  • Conducting oneself in a non-violent and appropriate manner 

Here are other things that you can expect while residing in a sober living house: 

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Structured Living That Isn’t Too Strict 

Sober living homes provide guided independence. This allows residents to function as normal adults while preventing them from falling back into old patterns. 

House members typically have the freedom to: 

  • Communicate with loved ones
  • Perform activities that they enjoy (such as reading or watching TV)
  • Leave the house during their stay 

Some recovery homes have set curfews and a sign-in/sign-out process for residents. Recent rehab graduates may also have a senior member of the house assigned to accompany them when they leave the house.

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Residents also have access to additional training and development programs. These programs help them build on the sobriety skills they learned in rehab.

There are plenty of ways house members can receive support through recovery. For example, supervised staff members are readily on standby to help residents: 

  • Reconcile with friends and family members who were negatively affected by their alcohol or drug use
  • Find employment 
  • Secure housing post-treatment 
  • Adapt to their new lifestyle of sobriety in a sober environment
  • Gain etiquette and social skills necessary for becoming contributing members of society 

A Plan of Action for Long-Term Sobriety 

According to Current Psychiatry Reports, a peer-reviewed medical journal, 85% of people in recovery relapse and tend to resume substance use a year after addiction treatment.3 

A tailored aftercare plan, paired with a relapse prevention plan designed in therapy, helps residents stay aware of their triggers that may result in relapse. This self-awareness helps them practice healthy coping mechanisms in stressful or tempting situations. 

Most recovery homes have set program lengths. However, some programs offer custom stays for as long as needed. 

Upon acceptance, house members are typically required to detox and show progress in working towards long-term sobriety. Sober living residents must also make rent payments to retain residency.

Sober Living vs. Inpatient Treatment

Sober living houses and inpatient treatment facilities have similar requirements. Both require residents to live on the premises full-time and work towards a sober lifestyle. However, their approaches to addiction recovery differ. 

What Are Residential Treatment Centers?

Residential (inpatient) treatment centers work exclusively with people struggling with severe addictions. They offer 24/7 care in conjunction with residential treatment programs. 

Residential treatment facilities are the best fit for people in the early stages of recovery. Program members typically choose to enroll after completing medical detox. The average length of stay is between a few weeks and a few months. 

Offerings at a residential treatment center may include:

The main outcome goals of inpatient treatment are to: 

  • Re-socialize participants into the basic norms of society
  • Help participants heal harmful beliefs and behavioral patterns that have impacted their addiction struggles

Residential treatment programs are much more structured and intensive than programs provided in sober living houses.

How Sober Living Homes Differ

A sober living program bridges the gap between residential treatment and re-entry into the real world. While they don’t provide the same level of structure as residential treatment programs, sober living homes offer a safe environment to establish healthy habits and coping skills. 

For the most part, house members have the freedom to come and go as long as they’re back before curfew. This less-restrictive environment ensures sober living residents can navigate the recovery process independently. They provide just enough structure and guidance as people ease back into daily life.

Sober living programs also offer longer stays than inpatient treatment facilities. 

Who Can Benefit from a Sober Living Home?

Sober living programs are specially designed for people who:

  • Need extra accountability as they pursue long-term sobriety
  • Have either ended or recently completed an intensive inpatient or outpatient program
  • Are seeking structure yet independence in the stage of early recovery
  • Have eliminated all drugs and alcohol from their system

A study from the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs revealed the positive effects of 300 recovering addicts living in a sober living home. The outcomes included reductions in alcohol and drug use, psychiatric symptoms, and arrests.4

In a different study, they concluded that sober living homes are an unutilized modality that offers a clean, sober living space for people who are:5

  • Undergoing residential treatment
  • Participating in outpatient programs
  • Searching for alternatives to formal treatment

How Much Do Sober Living Homes Cost?

A sober living program costs less than residential treatment. This is because sober living homes offer fewer services.

Rent prices for a sober living home generally correlate with rent prices for a decent apartment or home. Monthly rent payments vary based on average mortgage or rent costs in the area.

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Updated on June 8, 2022
5 sources cited
  1. Alcoholics Anonymous Cleveland. “2014 Membership Survey.” Alcoholics Anonymous Cleveland District Office, 2014
  2. NIDA. “Treatment and Recovery.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 22 Mar. 2022
  3. Sinha R. “New findings on biological factors predicting addiction relapse vulnerability.” Curr Psychiatry, 13 Oct. 2011
  4. Polcin DL, Korcha R, Bond J, Galloway G. “What did we learn from our study on sober living houses and where do we go from here?” J Psychoactive Drugs, 4 Dec. 2010 
  5. Polcin DL, Henderson DM. “A clean and sober place to live: philosophy, structure, and purported therapeutic factors in sober living houses.” J Psychoactive Drugs, 4 Jun. 2008

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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.

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