What’s the Difference Between Sober Living and a Halfway House?

There are a number of different types of sober living situations available to those who have successfully completed an inpatient drug rehab program and/or feel that a sober home with sober housemates is the best choice for their sobriety and continued progress in recovery. Each is different, providing:

  • More or less access to therapeutic resources like personal therapy, holistic treatment options, and more
  • Gender-specific or coed accommodations
  • A rural or urban location
  • A spectrum or rules, limitations, regulations, or expectations for residents to follow as they work toward living independently in sobriety

The choice between a sober living home and a halfway house is one of the many choices that prospective residents will make as they determine which style of sober living is best for them. Which one is right for you?

Halfway House

A halfway house is generally the required destination for those who are released from jail or prison, or a court-mandated home for offenders in lieu of jail time. Support for sobriety is generally offered as residents are required to remain drug- and alcohol-free during their stay, but it is not usually the focus of the home or its residents. There are often a number of strict rules for residents, rules that do not change or lessen until the resident is allowed to go home.

The goal of a halfway house is to facilitate the reintegration of its residents back into society in order to lessen the rate of recidivism. In some cases, halfway houses are designated for offenders with mental health problems who may not have anywhere else to go immediately upon being released from jail while others help parolees to find a job and suitable housing while they maintain their commitments to check in with their parole officer.

Halfway houses are not usually privately funded ventures. They offer the bare minimum in room and board as well as supervision and are generally funded by the state or federal government. Little is offered in the way of therapeutic support or substance abuse treatment, though there may be weekly or daily house meetings for residents.

Sober Living Home

Sober living homes, especially luxury sober living homes, are far more relaxed and home-like than halfway houses. They are privately owned and maintained with no support from government funds, so they are also free of the “red tape” that often comes with accepting those monies. Because of this freedom and private funding, sober living homes can offer:

  • Fewer restrictions and a looser structure designed to meet the needs of the individual rather than the masses
  • More one-on-one support for each resident due to higher number of staff members and fewer residents in each home
  • More therapeutic support, such as in-home holistic treatments (e.g., yoga, meditation, acupuncture, massage, etc.)
  •  More amenities (e.g., Jacuzzis, an estate with walking paths and hiking trails, private rooms, high-end décor, organic cuisine, group outings, etc.)

Additionally, residents of sober living homes are there voluntarily. This can significantly alter the general tone and atmosphere of the home, creating a more positive environment that is more conducive to recovery and therapeutic growth.

Which Type of Sober Living Situation Will Best Serve Your Recovery?

Your ability to remain clean and sober, avoiding any drug or alcohol use at all, is of primary importance and should guide your choice between a sober living home and a halfway house. If you are not court-mandated to attend a specific halfway house, it is often therapeutically beneficial to choose a sober living home that is better equipped to aid you in your personal recovery process. If you’d like help finding a sober living situation that is right for you, contact us today.