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Difference Between Sober House and Halfway House

Are you wondering what the difference is between a sober house and halfway house? If YES, here is everything you need to know.

Note that the very first days or weeks tend to be very difficult for patients who have just finished an inpatient detox program.

Recovering addicts will always witness various triggers and cravings, which might in time lead to relapse. Some might even need more time to acclimate back into the society.

That is when they will have to choose to live in either halfway houses or sober living houses. A halfway house, sober living home, home for older homeless youth, and foster home are all kinds of transitional living houses.

Transitional living serves as an encompassing term for any residential environment that offers temporary residence to people getting back on their feet. A transitional living facility can take any form, including supervised apartments, communal homes, and dorms.

Sober living homes and halfway houses being transitional homes have a lot of things in common, primarily their purpose.

Both sober houses and halfway houses offer residence and support for individuals striving to maintain sobriety and no longer need inpatient treatment.

A good number of people tend to confuse the two because both are facilities used to aid people to adjust from use disorder inpatient treatment to fully independent living.

What is a Sober House and How It Works?

Sober living homes, sober houses, and recovery residences all offer aftercare for individuals who just finished addiction treatment.

Individuals in this type of transitional home are housed in a supervised sober house. This transitional living house helps people in making the transition from daunting treatment to self-sufficiency.

Residents in sober houses must have to complete the autonomy while being held accountable by peers and/or supervisory personnel. Clinical supervision may be available in some long-term sober living homes, but not in all of them.

Anyone looking to spend time in a sober home should be aware that these homes are structured. Sober houses for guided independent living are available through sober living programs.

Since high-quality sober houses are still somewhat supervised, you are expected to comply with the house’s basic regulations.

  • Applicants are expected to detox and work toward long-term sobriety in order to be accepted.
  • To stay, each resident are expected to complete all home responsibilities, including paying rent.
  • All house meetings and support group meetings need attendance.
  • The intensity of the program normally starts off high and gradually decreases as the residents progress.
  • A minimum of 90 days is recommended for your stay.

A good number of sober house residents, however, stay for 6 to 9 months before moving on to full independence, while some might reside for a year or more.

There are a number of additional factors that influence the overall quality, effectiveness, and fit of a sober living program.

What is a Halfway House and How It Works?

According to reports, Halfway houses were introduced in the 18th century in England. The intention was to house and rehabilitate juveniles who had committed crimes. However, the United States adopted these residences to house individuals who had just left prison.

Over the years, these houses have been used to accommodate the homeless and, most recently, to house individuals who have left an inpatient rehab facility.

Have it in mind that the Federal Government mostly funds halfway, which removes all costs or maintains it at a low cost to the patients.

Most individuals in these homes were ordered by a court to the halfway houses. These residences offer a room and board facilities.

A good number of them also offer some therapeutic treatment and support. But, they do offer group meetings that enhance sober living and reinforce recovery. Other roles they play include;

  • Initiate your search for employment. Residents have access to a support system that schedules time for making applications and attending interviews.
  • Make a living and housing arrangements. A good number of individuals will visit halfway houses and do not own a home. These residences offer them time to look for housing. Others fear that their own homes may trigger a relapse.

Howbeit, towards the end of your stay, you need to make housing arrangements and rules on how you will cope with Temptations and cravings.

  • Adjust to leading a sober life. A resident may be experiencing withdrawal symptoms and Temptations to relapse. The residence institute rules that will help you adjust to following these rules and leading a sober life.
  • Make amends. Have it in mind that the actions of individuals who engage in substance use disorder affect those around them.

These houses offer residents the platform to reach out and make amends. It is a liberating process that helps you rebuild your support network.

Difference Between a Sober House and a Halfway House

While sober living homes and halfway houses are similar in the aim they serve, they do have numerous differences, and they include;

  1. Admission

Have it in mind that halfway homes are most times designated for people who are coming out of incarceration and have undergone a drug treatment program within that time. Just like it was stated above, these types of transitional living houses may be sponsored by the state.

In addition, halfway houses customarily require residents to be enrolled in a treatment program or to have recently completed such a program.

Individuals go to sober living houses voluntarily. On the other hand, individuals will go to Halfway houses under Court orders.

  1. Time and Duration of Stay

There is a limit on the amount of time a resident can stay at a halfway house. But unlike halfway homes, sober living homes don’t always demand that residents have been incarcerated. They also may not require that housemates be enrolled in treatment plans while living there.

According to experts, this is partly because the fees from residents help to run the sober house. Indeed, this is a major upside for people who are eager for longer-term accountability and community support.

This unlimited time also offers residents the peace of mind they need to fully focus on their recovery as against worrying about where they’ll live when their time runs out.

  1. Management and Arrangements

A good number of Halfway houses are state-sponsored and many are operated by government agencies. Since these transitional living houses are government-run and more or less used for court-ordered stays, the living situation may be less than ideal in contrast to sober living facilities where residents pay rent.

Also, note that halfway houses are often fully occupied and set up like a dormitory. Meanwhile, sober living is arranged like a private residence with privileges like privacy and space.

Note that these spaces are comfortable homes primarily because “the fees from residents are used to buy certain privileges”.

Also note that the luxury level of sober living spaces varies across the country, depending on the cost of the rent. However, the most crucial aspect of any living space is that it helps to boost growth, recovery, and accountability.

  1. Origin

According to reports, sober living houses first appeared in the 1830s, when religious organizations founded hotels with strict no-alcohol policies.

“Dry homes” as they were fondly called, soon became places where those in recovery could live for continued support and accountability.

Meanwhile, halfway houses were initially established for criminals. In the 1700s, criminals in England were put in halfway houses in hopes of recovering back to society, and it also offered rehabilitation to those with mental health and substance abuse disorders.

With time, the United States followed England’s lead and implemented halfway houses for individuals released from prison.

Currently, the United States has halfway houses to assist those who were incarcerated and require supervision transitioning to their return to society.

  1. Services

Although many sober living homes do not offer formal treatment services, many are members of coalitions established to monitor health, safety, quality, and concur to recovery models which focus on group involvement and peer support.

Owing to that, they may require that residents agree to certain conditions such as staying away from drugs and alcohol, attending 12-step meetings, attending mandatory house meetings, obtaining a sponsor, sleeping at the house for a minimum number of nights, and being accountable for their whereabouts when not at the sober living home. Residents still need to travel to their therapist, doctor, or treatment center to keep up with their treatment program.


These transitional living houses can also be a priceless resource for people who have recently completed residential treatment, attended an outpatient program, or left incarceration by offering numerous benefits, including holding residents accountable, reducing environmental and emotional relapse triggers, and aid residents achieve their best lives as part of society.