Sober Living Guide

A Parents & Clients Guide to Sober Living

‘Sober living, Halfway House, Recovery Residence, Flop House”

When people hear the words “halfway house” many people picture housing for newly released prisoners. Halfway houses aren’t only for prisoners though and have long been a staple in the recovery community. Many people trying to rehabilitate themselves, at some point, may find themselves in a halfway house. A commonly used term to describe a halfway house is also sober living or recovery residence. These terms are mostly interchangeable in most regions. When looking for a halfway house it’s important to make an informed decision. There are a few factors to be aware of and questions that should be asked. A person looking to solidify their recovery by moving into a drug and alcohol-free environment needs to be aware that some “halfway houses” are not managed properly. There may be little oversight to make sure everyone in the housing is sober and doing the right thing, so doing research is imperative.  

What are some characteristics a quality Sober Living/ Halfway House??

  • Rent – Even if rent is on a sliding scale they hold the client accountable for payment.
  • Paid Employees -A paid trained employee or the owner of the house should be present on to ensure quality control. Having a house manager is very common and a great thing to have and an efficient affordable way to keep a watchful eye over the housing – Most of the time “House Managers” are elder clients in the community that are doing well and showing progress in their recovery.  Never the less, the need for extra leadership is important. There should be a responsible, reliable, sober halfway house manager.
  • A ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY AND IT’S ENFORCED! Halfway houses should have a relapse policy. A relapse would be considered anyone that drinks or uses drugs while living at the halfway house.  Some relapse policy procedures would include: calling the clients emergency contact, searching the unit for any other drugs/alcohol and making arrangements for the client to be discharged to a higher level of care. There should not be any person actively using or drinking while living at the halfway house.
  •  Cleanliness. Clients should be provided with cleaning supplies and held accountable for chores, making their beds, personal hygiene etc. A persons lives in a halfway house to begin living a clean lifestyle which includes not only discontinuing drugs and alcohol but taking care of one’s body and things.
  •  Basic Necessities provided- Linens, pillow, dishes, television and toilet paper. Some Sober Livings charge a deposit incase any of their furniture or items are damaged or stolen and other halfway houses don’t charge a fee but may have less amenities. Some deposits are refundable.
  • Curfew and Consequences enforced. Sober livings that enforce restrictions when a client first arrives have higher success rates because they are essentially helping protect the clients from themselves. After being in an institution like a hospital, jail or rehab it’s common for individuals to get distracted with new found freedom. Having structure and restrictions for a period of time helps the client stay focused on a healthy routine that supports their recovery – mentally, physically and spiritually. Many Halfway Houses will have a curfew of around 10pm on weekdays with extended hours on Friday and Saturday. Typically, the longer a person lives in the sober living the more freedom they will earn.

This description of a quality sober living is based off opinion and over 10 years of knowledge and experience in the field of substance abuse. Not every quality Halfway House might fit this description to a T, but this list can give someone a very good idea what a halfway house should look like.  

What’s the Point of Living in A Halfway House??

Simply put- to successfully integrate a recovering person into society.  Sober Living might be one of the most important, difficult, rewarding parts in the recovery process. In actual inpatient treatment a client doesn’t have much interaction with the outside world so when they arrive at a halfway house they must learn major life skills that have been either forgotten or were never there to begin with. Clients are now re-entering society, getting jobs, saving money, cleaning up after themselves, eating healthy, working out, being accountable, and of course staying sober. These residents have the choice to either stay sober and keep fighting, learning and growing or to get high and go right back to where they started. It’s much easier to continue sobriety when a person is surrounded by other that want to do the same. A Sober Living or Halfway house provides housing for amazing people who are looking to change their lives for the better.

HOW TO SPOT A FLOP HOUSE (Halfway House that is not healthy):

  • Relapse Protocol- If a client is allowed to use drugs or alcohol and there is no consequence that’s probably the time to find a new Sober Living.
  • No Supervision- A House manager with 30 days sober who receives free rent doesn’t count. There needs to be structure. Without structure there is a high chance of relapse and without supervision there is a high chance of unnoticed relapse which is obviously, extremely counterproductive. Staying sober when everyone is getting away with getting high isn’t an ideal situation.
  • Appearance- Run down, dirty, unorganized, smelly, mattresses on floors
  • Look at the houses current clients. Are they high? Ask them if they like it there. No question is a stupid one, especially when dealing with a human life.
  • Clients are not required to work or volunteer or practice positive actions. Going to meetings, the gym, anything but sitting home all day or even worse getting high all day.

There are thousands of well ran successful halfway houses. Halfway houses are also a valuable resource that are mostly ran by people who care and want to help addicts re-enter society a better person. Greed will always influence some into making a quick buck off another’s misfortune so it’s imperative to know the facts and to make an educated decision when it comes to choosing a halfway house. Eighty million American’s struggle with addiction, this has affected halfway houses in a way where they are becoming more accessible and accepted in society. If there is a question or concern one might have about a halfway house, there is never a harm in asking. Going through sober living doesn’t have to be scary or nerve wracking. Quite the opposite being in a halfway house means the renewing of ones life and a fresh start where an individual can have the support to get and stay sober and live a life that they are happy and proud of.