How Sober Living Homes Work
The concept of the sober living home came out of California, although the idea has spread to many other states. The environment is designed to gather a group of people who are all working on recovery from a substance abuse problem, who can support each other through the transition from treatment back into full independence. Sober living homes are not the same as inpatient rehabilitation, although many offer group therapy and drug testing as ways to ensure the safety and success of residents.
Sober living homes were inspired by halfway houses, but these two programs are not the same thing. Halfway houses often run on government support, which means many of the services they offer suffer when government programs are cut. In contrast, sober living homes use rent money paid by the residents to support the house’s functions, along with some government funding and nonprofit grants. Halfway houses also required residents to have successfully completed a recovery program before receiving a bed; sober living homes strongly encourage residents to have completed inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation before joining, but it is not always required. Some residents may have completed rehabilitation prior to finding room in the home, but relapsed after leaving treatment, and have now found they need a stronger base of support for their sobriety. Halfway houses would generally require these individuals to complete another entire course of treatment while sober living homes do not.
While the number of residents in sober living homes will vary, the point of the living situation is for the residents to support each other as they strive toward greater, sober independence. Residents must pay rent for their room or bed, and must also participate in household chores and house meetings between the residents. As long as residents comply with the basic rules of the home, they can stay as long as they want; however, they are encouraged to work toward full independence.