Sober & Transitional Living: What You Should Know

January 4, 2024

5 mins

Jackie Rosu


5 mins Addiction recovery comes with a plethora of treatment options that offer different levels of care.

From inpatient and residential treatment to partial hospitalization and medical detox programs, addiction recovery comes with a plethora of treatment options that offer different levels of care. Through all of the medical lingo, it can be hard to know which programs will be best at meeting people with substance use disorders where they are.

In this article, we’ll break down the details behind sober living homes and transitional living programs, including what they are, who they’re designed for, and what potential residents can expect.

What Is a Sober Living Home?

Sober living homes are supportive environments for people recovering from substance use disorder that help residents adjust to sober living, usually while participating in outpatient treatment or having recently left a drug rehab center. These environments are usually set up like homes, with each resident claiming a bedroom and sharing household responsibilities with others who are also in recovery. 

The idea behind sober living homes is to:

  • Get individuals out of the environment that drove their addiction, or that may still contain triggers that could challenge their recovery.
  • Help individuals maintain the progress they gained during intensive or inpatient addiction treatment.
  • Surround individuals with other people who are also in recovery to foster a supportive, relatable, and accountable environment.
  • Set individuals up for success when they feel ready to return to their normal lives.

How Does a Sober Living House Differ From a Halfway House?

Halfway houses also provide a residential, substance-free environment that helps bridge the gap between institutional care and a return to society, but there are some key differences. For example, tenants at halfway houses may:

  • Come from a correctional facility instead of a treatment facility.
  • Be court-ordered to be in the program.
  • Not be actively engaged in recovery programming.

Additionally, state governments often own or sponsor halfway houses, while sober living homes are typically privately owned.

Levels of Sober Living

Not all individuals with substance use disorder need the same level of treatment and support, which is why sober living homes vary in levels of care. There are four main types of sober living homes.

  1. Peer-run programs: These programs usually employ no clinical positions and are run democratically by a senior resident who helps to hold the other residents accountable. This type of sober living home provides the least supervision and closely resembles what life would be like outside of sober living.
  2. Monitored programs: One step up from peer-run programs, monitored sober living programs usually involve at least one person paid to conduct drug screenings and hold residents accountable to sober living rules.
  3. Supervised programs: These programs are more structured, usually having licenses for clinical care and certified staff who help tenants gain life skills to aid their recovery. 
  4. Integrated programs: Providing the highest level of support, integrated programs are often connected to institutions and serve as a step-down for individuals who are leaving more intensive addiction treatment. Clinical care is provided in-house. 

What Are Transitional Living Programs?

Transitional living programs provide temporary housing until individuals can get “back on their feet” after addiction treatment, homelessness, entering a foster program, or other major life changes. Transitional living is an umbrella term encompassing all forms of temporary transitional housing. Sober living homes are a type of transitional living program.

What Are the Benefits of Sober & Transitional Living Programs?

Sober and transitional living programs provide a wide range of benefits for individuals looking for a safe and supportive recovery environment, including the following.

Positive Resident Experiences

People who stay in sober living programs report benefits like:

  • Greater structure and accountability.
  • Learning and practicing coping skills.
  • Receiving social and emotional support from others.

Higher Rates of Abstinence

A 2018 study of 330 sober living residents found that tenants of sober living programs were more likely to remain abstinent following addiction treatment and had greater odds of employment. This is especially important, considering 40-60% of individuals who are treated for substance use disorder relapse, typically within the first 30 days following treatment.

Greater Adherence to Outpatient Care

According to a 2021 study published in the Journal of Substance Use & Addiction Treatment, individuals who choose to live in structured sober housing participated in outpatient treatment for a longer period. This can help improve outcomes and assist with the transition back to their previous routine.

Who Should Consider Sober & Transitional Living?

Any individual who is concerned about their ability to stay sober in their home environment following inpatient or residential treatment should consider a sober living program. If you know the triggers – whether they may be people, places, or events – that could compromise your recovery, a sober living program is a great way to put your new recovery skills into practice before you have to face those outside pressures.

How Much Does Sober & Transitional Living Cost?

As with most medical treatment, sober and transitional living program costs vary based on the level of care needed, geographic location, length of stay, and more. Since sober living homes are often privately owned, they can set their rent amount based on similar rental prices in the facility’s area. 

Costs will also depend on the home’s overall mortgage, ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands per month. 

Sober & Transitional Living Homes: What to Expect

While not all sober living homes are created equal, they have some characteristics in common. Here are a few things you can expect when exploring sober living arrangements.

House Rules

To maintain a sober and safe environment, many sober living facilities have house rules. Examples of these rules include:

  • No drinking alcohol or bringing items containing illegal drugs onto the premises at any time.
  • Mandatory attendance at regular house meetings (often weekly).
  • A drug testing policy that applies to all residents equally.
  • Creating a respectful and supportive environment.
  • A set curfew.
  • Regular participation in 12-step recovery programs or peer support groups.
  • Rent and other expenses are due on time.
  • Taking responsibility for some of the shared household chores to keep the residence clean and inviting.

Length of Stay

One of the best things about sober living over other types of programs is that there’s no maximum length of stay. You can stay in the residence for as long as you need to feel confident about your recovery as long as you can pay the rent.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends that individuals stay in sober living for at least 90 days to obtain the maximum benefits, but one study found the average length of stay is much higher, ranging between 166 and 254 days.

How to Find the Right Sober Living Home

When choosing a sober or transitional living home, finding the right fit is important. Just as you might with doctors and therapists, it’s important to shop around to see which facility speaks to you. Never Alone Recovery offers free resources to match those struggling with addiction to the right programs in their area. 

When searching for a program, look for the following “green flags” to help you choose the best one. Sober living programs should:

  • Have strict sober living rules.
  • Provide access to peer support.
  • Have clearly stated costs and policies.
  • Have professional certification or accreditation.
  • Offer accountability plans.
  • Provide a daily schedule for residents.
  • Conduct regular drug testing.
  • Have clean, respectful facilities.

Find Addiction Recovery Support With Never Alone Recovery

Never Alone Recovery exists to help individuals struggling with substance use find the highest-quality treatment that meets their needs. In addition to offering a free online support group, the Never Alone program offers free consultations to help match you with the best-fit programming.

No matter where you are or what you’re going through, we’re here to provide judgment-free help. Call us now at 866-788-8335 to kickstart your sober living journey today.

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