What is a Halfway House or Sober Living Home?
People with a drug addiction often feel the need for continued support even after receiving treatment at a drug addiction treatment center. They may feel unprepared to go back home, or they may not have a home to go to. For those who are in the initial recovery phase, a halfway house – also know as a sober living home – may meet their immediate need for housing and support.
The Basic Definition of a Halfway House
A halfway house or sober living home is a residence where people go who have recently completed a drug treatment program. These homes are usually in residential areas, and they may be a single-family residence or multi-family housing. The person is accepted into the house and may get a private room, or may be given a room they share with others. Price is usually a factor in this choice and private rooms cost more. Residents typically enjoy use of a common area, which includes kitchen, living room and bathroom.
You often can’t tell a halfway house by looking at the outside. It’s a quiet place that can be found in almost any neighborhood. These sober living homes are often operated by drug treatment centers or by nonprofit organizations. Some homes are designed specifically for one type of addiction while others are more general. For instance, you may see a sober living home just for addicts recovering from heroin or alcohol.
The Benefits of a Sober Living Home
The main benefit of choosing a halfway house after treatment is the recovering addict gets to live in a drug and alcohol-free environment. They don’t have to face temptation all day and at their weakest moments. There is also the crucial element of living with other clean and sober people, so the living situation provides a natural support network.
Another advantage is in terms of cost. Sober living homes are usually cheaper than residential rehab centers. They come in a variety of prices from just a few hundred dollars for those who can’t afford traditional housing to more expensive places with nicer amenities. In general, you don’t need money to start out. There’s no deposit required on some of these homes, and you can make your initial payment with your first paycheck.
Paying for a Halfway House
Most halfway houses charge the equivalent of rent to keep the place operating and to help residents get back into the real world and the responsibilities that come with it. However, they are more flexible than the standard apartment. You may be able to negotiate a payment plan based on your income once you have a job.
Some sober living homes provide scholarships for residents, which helps cover costs. Other residents seek out help from family or friends until they can get back on their feet. Others take out a loan or put the payment on a credit card.
Life in a Halfway House or Sober Living Home
A halfway house is the ideal transition from drug addiction treatment to independent living for many because it is less regimented but has specific requirements. In addition to the no-drugs-or-alcohol policy, residents must also attend recovery meetings.
A staff member is responsible for everything that happens in one of these sober living homes. They ensure that everyone knows the rules and that none are being broken. They set the consequences for any infractions, which may include eviction for serious issues.
Residents may be subjected to random drug testing to ensure they are still following the road to recovery. While this sounds simple enough, you’d be surprised at some of the products that are banned. For instance, some homes won’t allow mouthwash or cough medicine if it has alcohol content.
Residents may be required to apply to jobs or go to job interviews to find steady work. Since the goal of the sober living homes is to help addicts transition into regular life, finding employment is an important part of the process. They may establish some sort of accountability for residents to show their efforts to find a job. However, finding a job is difficult if the person has been unemployed for some time or has a criminal record as a result of the addiction. The staff at many halfway houses take a proactive approach to help the residents with job hunting. They may help them create a resume, practice answering interview questions and even assist them in purchasing work attire.
There is usually a curfew in place that must be followed unless the person has a job past the stated time. Each resident will have chores around the house that they must complete on a daily or weekly basis. Not only does this keep the home functioning, it is another way to help the person continue to re-establish normal routines.
The halfway house will typically require you attend some type of recovery meeting. It may be one that is held with the residents or through an outside source.
Life at a sober living home is not all work and rules. An important aspect of recovery for the addict is to learn how to have fun without the influence of drugs and alcohol. Many of these programs have special activities and events the residents can enjoy and invite family and friends to attend.
Some programs at halfway houses include classes for life skills. Addicts who were long-term users or began using right out of high school may never have learned basic skills for independent living. Classes may train residents on how to create a budget, how to eat healthy and cook simple meals and how to communicate effectively.
Unless you have been ordered by a court judgment or other legal requirement, there is no set time limit for a person to stay at a halfway house. Some do require a commitment and have applicants sign a lease just as they would with an apartment. Others are more open and allow you to leave when you feel ready. Most people stay less than a year, and some are residents for only a few months before moving on.
Support Through a Clean and Sober Lifestyle
One aspect of sober living homes that appeals to recovering addicts is the support they receive from other residents. No matter how loving the family or how much friends want to help, they don’t understand what addiction is like. The other residents begin to be a support system for each recovering addict. Many times, they will even form their own groups and meetings where they can discuss issues common to all of them.
Long-term addicts have often cut all ties with people they once knew, and they don’t have anywhere else to go. These homes give them a safe place where they can begin to focus on the future. The residents can set up job interviews and conduct job searches with a flexible schedule and a roof over their heads instead of feeling rushed to earn money for a place to live.
Perhaps the best reason for recovering addicts to consider a halfway house is to allow them time to adjust to life after addiction. It’s often difficult and frightening for them to leave a treatment center, which provided strict rules and restrictions. Now they must make choices, and they may not feel prepared to take charge of life. A sober living home gives them the opportunity to practice their freedom while still providing structure and rules to make the person feel safe.
A halfway house offers stability and opportunity for recovering addicts to help them maintain their hard-won sobriety.
Anaheim Lighthouse is a modern and effective addiction treatment center in Southern California. It is licensed and certified by the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Contact us today for a no-cost and no-obligation evaluation for yourself or a loved one.