What is a Halfway House or Sober Living Home?
A halfway house, also known as a sober living home, is a type of group home that helps people with addictions work through the process of reintegrating back into society. An effective halfway house serves as a transitional point between drug and alcohol treatment and a healthy, productive life.
Halfway houses are often private, for-profit entities. They are frequently owned and managed by treatment centers. They aren’t funded by state or local government, but they may be owned and operated by charitable organizations. Some sober living environments are typical one-family homes in residential areas. Others are go to converted hotels or apartment buildings.
Benefits of Halfway Houses or Sober Living Homes
Addiction is a complex, chronic disease that impacts Americans in a number of very profound ways. SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) reports that in 2013, more than 9 percent of individuals age 12 and older were current users of illicit drugs, and slightly more than half reported being current drinkers. Experts estimate that more than 2 million people participate in some form of drug and alcohol treatment every year. Although people progress through treatment at different rates, countless studies have indicated that recovery depends largely on treatment length. NIDA (The National Institute for Drug Abuse) says that treatment lasting less than 90 days is of limited effectiveness, and many people benefit from treatment lasting as long as a year or more.
Unfortunately, treatment is expensive and insurance companies are frequently unwilling to fund more than 30 days, which is rarely enough. Dr. Omar Manejwala, author of How Often do Long-Term Sober Alcoholics and Addicts Relapse,?
An article published in Psychology Today cites that the chance of relapse is high during the first year after treatment. Approximately two-thirds of individuals will revert to addictive behavior. However, less than half relapse after a year of sobriety. Halfway houses, often known as sober living homes, bridge the gap between treatment and independent living by providing critical support in a drug- and alcohol-free environment. Most halfway houses accommodate residents until they have attained at least six to 12 months of sobriety, and sometimes longer. Sober living homes provide support from peers who are also committed to sobriety and working to rebuild their lives. The atmosphere in a halfway house is generally positive and residents have ample opportunities for having fun and making new friends that may last a lifetime.
Types of Sober Living Homes
Most sober living homes are open to people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, although some are available to people with behavioral addictions such as sex addiction, gambling or overeating. In some cases, halfway houses help people with a specific type of addiction such as alcoholism or dependence on heroin or cocaine. Halfway houses may offer individual or group therapy sessions for mental health issues or addiction, or counseling to help people learn better coping skills to deal with difficult situations, thus reducing the chance of relapse. Some sober living homes are gender-specific, while others are co-ed. Halfway houses for adolescents are also available.
Although halfway houses offer more freedom than rehab, they have various limits and restrictions and differ considerably in organization. Some are almost like living in a regular home environment. Others are closely managed and monitored with a high degree of structure.
- Peer-managed halfway houses – Highly motivated individuals may do well in peer-managed halfway houses, in which residents are accountable to themselves, and to one another. In this environment, residents meet frequently to determine how the house will function and how responsibilities and chores will be divided. This type of halfway house is democratic and largely self-managed. However, an outside individual may come in to manage admissions and discharges and to provide mediation when problems become difficult to resolve.
- Moderate structure – Halfway houses that provide a moderate level of structure are still very much a community with an emphasis on personal accountability. However, this level of structure is generally managed by an individual who monitors resident behavior and enforces house rules.
- Increased structure – This type of halfway house is generally run by an owner or manager and with a trained, credentialed team of addiction professionals. Individuals who live in this type of halfway house frequently receive assistance with medical or psychiatric issues. They may receive help with life skills, education and vocational training. A high level of structure is frequently best for people who have just completed rehab.
Rules: What to Expect at a Halfway House?
Because sober living homes are a transitional step to fully independent living, you will be expected to act responsibly. In most cases, you will pay rent and purchase your own food, much like you would do if you were living on your own. You will share chores with other residents. You may have to hold a job or attend school during the day, and to be home at a certain time. Most sober living homes provide assistance if you need help with job applications or interviews. Although expectations vary, you may have to attend 12-step meetings. A study funded by the National Institute of Health indicated the social support provided by participation in a 12-Step group is a powerful predictor of a positive outcome.
Living in a halfway house means you must be abstinent from drugs and alcohol. Many sober living homes will require you to undergo random or scheduled drug or breathalyzer tests to demonstrate your sobriety. You may have to leave if you break the rules, especially if you fail a drug test or bring drugs into the home. Breaking other house rules may result in a fine. You may have to make amends if your actions affected other residents.
Who Lives in Halfway Houses?
Most people who live in halfway houses have completed formal outpatient treatment or rehab, as people who have completed treatment are more likely to succeed and gain control of their lives. However, some halfway houses may welcome people who are brand new to treatment. Halfway houses aren’t equipped to deal with withdrawal, so detox must be completed prior to move-in.
How Much Does a Halfway House Cost?
Costs vary considerably, although rent is often comparable to small apartment. If you live in a city where rents are high, you will likely pay more than if you live in a halfway house in an area with more reasonable rents. The type of neighborhood may also affect the cost. Some sober living homes accept insurance, although many insurance providers don’t consider halfway house to be a qualifying medical treatment. If you have insurance, it’s up to you to determine what they cover. It is important to learn how to approach co-pays and deductibles. Many halfway houses offer payment plans or financing. Some, especially those operated by community or charitable organizations, may offer scholarships in certain situations. Although it isn’t common, sliding scales may be available.
According to NARR (National Association of Recovery Residences), entry into a halfway house generally requires only an application and/or personal interview. Most require advance rent payment for a week or month. You can leave a halfway house at any time, unless your situation is court-mandated. However, you’ll probably lose your deposit and/or that month’s rent if you leave before the agreed-upon time.
Disadvantages to Halfway Houses
Although halfway houses provide many advantages, there are certain drawbacks as well. For example, most halfway houses limit how long residents can stay. Some residents may have to leave at the end of that time period, even if they don’t feel fully prepared for independent living. In some cases, sober living homes require residents to be active participants in formal treatment. Sometimes, individuals hope to avoid formal treatment for various reasons. Often when they just need help after a relapse but feel they don’t need to repeat full-fledged treatment.
How to Choose a Good Halfway House or Sober Living Home
If you are in treatment or rehab, your treatment provider can suggest halfway houses that are most suitable for your situation. You can also ask friends or relatives who have been in treatment. Look for a halfway house in a good neighborhood, away from areas where drugs are readily available. The National Association of Recovery Residents reports that successful halfway houses are often located in stable, working-class neighborhoods. The house should be in close proximity to work or school, 12-Step meetings, outpatient treatment, medical care or other required services. If you don’t drive, it’s important that public transportation is nearby. It’s a good sign if the sober living home requires random drug tests from the residents. Although this may seem inconvenient and unnecessary, remember that not everyone is serious about staying clean and sober. This type of testing helps weed out those who are not committed to recovery.
Will a Sober Living Home Work for Me?
This is a question that only you can answer. Many individuals benefit greatly from the strong support system and sober environment that a halfway house can provide. If you are ready to commit yourself to work hard on your recovery, a sober living environment will help you get back on your feet.
Now is the time to get the addiction help that you or your loved one needs. Call (877) 279-1777 today to talk to an addiction professional. It is important to look for the best addiction treatment available to you or your loved one. Learn more about Sober living and other drug treatment programs that Oceanfront Recovery offers.