The Ultimate Sober House Guide
The Ultimate Sober House Guide
What is a sober house?
Sober house, recovery house, sober living house – three names, one basic idea. Different areas use different terminology, but all three describe a sober living environment where residents can expect to share a home with like minded individuals in recovery, free from drugs and alcohol. Massachusetts uses the terms “sober house” to refer to sober living homes, where “recovery residence” refers to what many would call a “half-way house”.
Have you or a loved one completed a substance abuse treatment program or detox? Looking for the next step in the continuum of care? A sober house might be the right fit.
Sober houses are homes for those in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. Most residents of recovery houses have completed a treatment program, but not necessarily. Residents in sober living homes live as a family unit, follow house rules, and pay rent to the sober house operator. Most importantly, residents must stay clean and sober while the live in the home. Living in a sober house can support sobriety and help alcoholics and recovering addicts adjust to new freedoms after a treatment program without the temptations of an unhealthy environment. Many men and women will live in a sober house for three to six months, even up to a year, while they build the skills and character to confidently live independently.
Who runs sober houses?
Most of recovery homes are privately owned or owned by treatment organizations. Sober house operators are often in recovery themselves, and nearly all sober houses are run by House Managers. Houses are often for-profit organizations, but some are non-profit. Most homes are located in quiet residential areas.
What is the difference between a sober house and a halfway house?
Sober houses are different from halfway houses. Usually, halfway houses accept insurance and have much more strict requirements on behavior. Halfway houses and other treatment organizations offer clinical care. Sober houses do not offer clinical treatment services.
What is expected of sober house residents?
Sober house residents are responsible for themselves. This is an important step in recovery; addiction makes people irresponsible and the friends and families of addicts often enable them by supporting them despite these behaviors. Recovery home residents usually pay rent, buy their own food and do the same things they would do for themselves if they lived in a traditional apartment or home. However, they also have to submit to random drug testing, adhere to a curfew, and follow house rules.
What are standard sober house rules?
Rules differ between sober houses, but most recovery homes follow certain basic rules, include zero tolerance for possession or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, zero tolerance for threats of violence or any violent act towards a person or property, covering for other residents’ drug or alcohol use, sign-in/sign-out and curfew rules, timely payment of rent, and participation in household expenses and chores. Read our article on house rules for more information.
Other recovery home rules typically include a list of prohibited items – weapons, substances which look like drugs, drug and alcohol paraphernalia, items which can be used to cover up drug use such as fake urine, and many other items – some seemingly harmless, such as mouthwash and flavorings including alcohol.
Residents in a sober living house should understand and agree to all house rules when they move in. Violations of the rules have consequences. Depending on the violation, residents may be put on “probation,” have to pay a fine or make amends to another resident or write an essay about what they did. In cases of serious or repeat violations, residents may be asked to leave the home.
The primary rule in all recovery living houses is that residents must stay clean and sober. It is a sober house – you can’t use alcohol or drugs!
In addition to these rules, people who live in these types of houses usually have to work or go to school during the day and must contribute to the home by doing chores. New residents are often encouraged or required to attend daily A.A. / N.A. meetings.
Who Can Live in a Recovery House?
Sober living homes may accept residents who are new to the rehab process, but most applicants have gone through a program before applying. This makes sense; residents must be able to stay sober in order to live the sober house. Recovering addicts who have sobriety under their belt and tools to stay clean are more likely to succeed in sober living. Some homes require a minimum of fourteen or even thirty-days’ sober.
Although “program first” is often the best path to take, it is not a requirement in some homes. Some sober houses, including Vanderburgh House, will accept residents who are new to recovery provided they are willing to stay sober. However, sober house applicants should have already completed any detox program required to cure physical addiction so they are not acutely ill and unable to work while living in the house.
How Much Does a Sober House Cost?
Most sober houses charge weekly rent. Some charge monthly rent. Some chart an up-front fee, others charge a deposit, and some don’t charge anything up front. Prices vary significantly. In Worcester, Massachusetts, our homes range from $140-$180 per week. Rent usually covers all living expenses besides food and entertainment. Some sober houses charge an initial deposit or fee, and these fees range from $25 to $300 or more. Vanderburgh House sober living homes charge a refundable deposit. Prices for recovery homes tend to follow the overall real estate market.
Living in a recovery house is generally far more affordable than living in a rehab facility. Sober house residents must attend meetings on a regular basis. In addition, most homes try to keep costs down and rates affordable so residents working part-time or working at minimum wage can afford to live in the home without assistance.
Is a sober house right for me?
If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, a recovery house may be the right solution. However, some people may need to go through detox or rehab before they can successfully live in a sober living home. Want to take the next step? Visit Vanderburgh House to learn more.