Sober Living Homes and Halfway Houses: What Are They?

For those in need of support while recovering from addiction, recovery homes can offer a welcoming and caring environment. However, there can be confusion over the various kinds of such residences, not helped by the terms being considered interchangeable by most people. “Sober living housing” and “halfway house” are among the terms used; are they actually the same thing, though? This can be important for finding the care you need.

Sober Living Homes

Sober living homes originate in the mid 19th century with “dry” hotels operated by religious organizations, where residents were expected to abstain from alcohol. The term has broadened to refer to housing facilities that provide both a transitional environment and a recovery plan to help residents become self-sufficient. These homes often function as a community with particular housing rules, which vary in strictness between facilities.

Halfway Houses

Halfway houses began in 18th century England and America as a place to house convicts that were recently released from prison, and some are still used in this way. However, many halfway houses nowadays are instead open to the homeless or to those undergoing treatment for addiction. Typically, halfway houses are run and funded by government agencies and specifically take residents that have been court-ordered to live there.

Similarities and Differences

Both sober living homes and halfway houses exist to offer individuals a place to recover from addiction before they return home. However, halfway houses are state-sponsored facilities and have limitations on amenities, qualifying occupants and duration of stay—they can be likened to dormitories. Sober living homes, generally affiliated with privately-owned addiction treatment centers, offer longer-term support and amenities more like private residences, with the expectation that residents pay rent and contribute to the community. While some sober living options are covered by insurance, halfway houses are far less expensive when that is not the case.

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