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Alcohol & Health
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Updated on June 21, 2023
6 min read

Sober Living Homes

What is a Sober Living Program?

Sober living programs offer extended support to people recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. Most program participants are in the process of transitioning from intensive substance abuse treatment to independent living.

Those who live in sober living facilities share a common goal of achieving a normal life 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? 

A sober living home, or sober housing, is a residential program that helps you focus on sobriety after treatment. It provides continued support and care in a clinically supervised recovery home after an addiction rehab program.

Most sober living houses are found in residential neighborhoods around the world. This supportive environment is comfortable and ideal for people trying to reintegrate into society.

Sober living homes also provide the necessary skills and resources to prepare you for life after treatment. The support and guidance it provides also reduces the likelihood of a relapse.

How are They Different from Halfway Houses?

Although halfway houses have a lot of similarities with sober living homes, there are a few key differences. 

For one, residents of halfway houses may be court mandated to live there. Within the criminal justice system, halfway houses may help offenders recover from substance abuse problems. On the other hand, residents of sober living homes typically come from substance use treatment programs.

Lastly, halfway houses are owned and funded by the state. Sober living houses are privately owned by treatment facilities that provide continuing support.


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What are the Benefits of Sober Living Homes?

Sober living houses provide a strong support system made up of empathetic and supportive peers. They also provide valuable life skills and help you find employment.

A study revealed the positive effects of 300 recovering addicts living in sober homes. The outcomes included reduced 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

The relapse rate for people suffering from substance use disorders (SUDs) falls between 40% and 60%. Because of this, sustained recovery at a structured sober living house might be helpful. 


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How Do Sober Living Houses Work?

Sober living homes are alcohol and drug-free living environments. There are some sober living house rules you’re expected to follow:

  • 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 
  • Sober-living residents must make rent payments to retain residency.

Sober living homes are typically managed by a house manager who ensures the facility runs smoothly and complies with house rules. Here are other things that you can expect while residing in a sober living house.

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 

When you join a sober living program, they might require you to detox under the guidance of treatment professionals. This demonstrates your progress towards ongoing sobriety.

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

Valuable Resources to Help You Gain Full Independence

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 can help you stay away from triggers. Paired with relapse prevention strategies, sober living programs can help you maintain long-term sobriety.

Sober Living vs. Inpatient Treatment

Both require residents to live on the premises full-time and work towards a sober lifestyle. However, their approaches to addiction recovery differ.

Residential or 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. 

What does Inpatient Rehab Provide?

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 those in sober living houses.

How do Sober Living Homes Differ from Inpatient Rehab?

Sober living homes don’t provide the same level of structure as residential inpatient treatment programs. However, they’re a great way to bridge the gap between residential treatment and reintegration into society.

Sober living homes offer a safe environment to practice and establish healthy habits and skills. You have the freedom to come and go as long as you follow the curfew, unlike in residential treatment.

Overall, sober living homes are less restrictive and help you transition to independence. Sober living programs also offer longer stays than inpatient treatment facilities. 

How Long Does Sober Living Last?

The recommended treatment duration at a sober house is typically 90 days. However, the length of your stay can depend on how well you’re adjusting to life after treatment.

You can stay in sober living homes as long as you want to. However, you must continue to follow the house rules. While one person may be ready to re-enter society after three months, others may benefit from staying longer.

How Much Do Sober Living Homes Cost?

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

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

Is Sober Living For You?

Sober living programs are specially designed for people who:

  • Need extra accountability as they pursue long-term sobriety
  • Require additional support systems in their journey toward sustained recovery
  • 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
Updated on June 21, 2023
6 sources cited
Updated on June 21, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Alcoholics Anonymous Cleveland. “2014 Membership Survey.” Alcoholics Anonymous Cleveland District Office, 2014.
  2. NIDA. “Treatment and Recovery.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2022.
  3. Sinha R. “New findings on biological factors predicting addiction relapse vulnerability.” Curr Psychiatry, 2011.
  4. Polcin et al. “What did we learn from our study on sober living houses and where do we go from here?” J Psychoactive Drugs, 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, 2008.
  6. Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 2018.
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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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