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Choosing a Sober Living Home

Choosing a Sober Living Home

Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Formal addiction treatment, such as inpatient rehab, is an excellent start to your recovery treatment in a safe, structured, and supportive community, but what happens after you complete this stage of addiction treatment? One of the most challenging experiences of recovery is re-learning how to “live” in the real world and stay steadfast in your sobriety. After treatment, you will be surrounded by all sorts of triggers. For many individuals, a safe transition, such as a sober living home, can help bridge the gap between the end of formal addiction treatment and living in recovery in the real world.

What is a sober living home?

Sober living homes provide safe, affordable housing to people in recovery and work to provide a positive, supportive environment. They are usually peer-led without structured formalized treatment. However, they adopt the 12-step program, so community meetings are mandatory. Sometimes, there is one paid staff member to help enforce rules and hold individuals accountable. These alcohol and drug-free living situations require individuals to follow house rules, help out with household chores, and attend recovery meetings, and while doing so, this allows individuals to spend time focusing on continued drug and alcohol treatment, job training, and other activities to help them adjust to community living again. Sober living homes also provide built-in support systems as returning to the “real world” after treatment can feel isolating, and addiction and isolation often go hand-in-hand. Some sober living homes require signing out when leaving the home and signing in when returning. Although residents can leave, they must return by curfew. Getting a job or volunteering may also be part of some sober living programs. A sober living home can be very beneficial to your long-term recovery journey. However, not every sober living home is created equal, and just like formal recovery, your sober home living experience should be tailored to your needs and beliefs. Choosing a sober living home with qualities and features that ultimately support your recovery success is important, but how do you do this? 

How do I pick a sober living home?

Location, location, location:

There are thousands of sober living homes across the country, and just like formal addiction treatment centers, the options can seem overwhelming. One of the first things to consider is location. Do you want to stay in a location where you completed your addiction treatment/ Do you want to stay close to home or a place where you have a robust support system and community? Do you want to go somewhere different and have a “fresh start”? Your location is essential wherever you choose because you want to enjoy where you live and feel safe in your environment. You should always visit every sober living home you are considering before making any decisions. If you are still in rehab, see if you can obtain a pass to go out with a family member or other trusted individual to visit these places in person and better understand how they compare. Do you feel safe in the neighborhood? Is it a neighborhood that is generally free of crime and drug use? Is the house secure with cameras and door codes? Who has access to the home? Above all, you want to feel comfortable and safe.


Some sober living homes are strictly peer-led, and others have paid house managers who enforce the rules. Are there rules? What are they? Do they have structured meetings, curfews, chores, and a zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policy? Do they require you to seek employment while living in the sober living home? How often are the 12-step meetings? Do you have to sign in and out when you leave the house? How are the rules enforced? Are there consequences if the rules are broken? What is the eviction process? Can you have visitors? Structure is important for safety and recovery because you must be held accountable, but some people may want more freedom than some sober houses provide.

Sober living staff:

Some sober living homes are strictly peer-based; others employ staff (some trained in addiction recovery) who are in charge of setting and enforcing the rules of the sober living house. When visiting a sober living home, it is essential to meet with the staff and ask them the following questions: 

  • What credentials do you hold in addiction recovery? 
  • What is your past experience with addiction and recovery? 
  • How do you enforce the rules? 
  • Do you participate in the 12-step meetings? 
  • What is your structure and philosophy for helping residents through recovery? 
  • Is there 24-hour supervision? 
  • What is the staff-to-resident ratio? 
  • Are staff trained to deal with emergencies? 
  • Is there drug testing? 
  • Do staff provide referrals to health professionals and addiction specialists? 
  • Is there a relapse plan in place? 
  • How do you help residents build a supportive social network?

Choosing a Sober Living Home

Social support:

One of the benefits of a sober living home after completing an addiction treatment program is you are surrounded by people who have also experienced addiction and completed rehab. These are your peers; feeling supported within your addiction recovery community is essential. You share a living space with these people and want to feel supported and comfortable. When visiting sober living homes, note how you feel while meeting the residents. Do you get a good vibe from the people currently living there? Is there a sense of camaraderie?

Red flags:

It is equally important to get a “sense of the feel” as it is to pick up on any red flags while visiting and learning about sober living homes. If a sober living home says that rent is free or they will pay you to live there, something is wrong. Sober living homes must charge a fee to maintain the house, pay taxes, and pay their staff. The goal is to make these fees (paid in the form of rent) affordable, and one way to do this is by offering shared bedrooms. You can also pay more to have your own room, but regardless, there is always rent. Other red flags to look out for include:

  • Rundown or unsafe building 
  • Does not have admissions requirements or does not keep records 
  • Does not require abstinence or regular drug testing 
  • Has no safety or privacy provisions 
  • Has no house rules 
  • Lacks clearly stated ethical standards 
  • Employs untrained or uncertified staff 
  • Does not submit to regulatory inspections

Seeking help for addiction at AKUA Mind and Body

Sober living homes can be beneficial for those who are transitioning from inpatient treatment, but they may be too far ahead in the process for many who are looking to start their recovery journey. Your recovery journey begins with seeking help from a team of trained addiction treatment professionals. If you are ready to enter recovery, our AKUA Mind and Body team can help you get on the right track. We offer all different levels of care and believe in tailoring your treatment plan to your needs. For more information, contact one of our addiction specialists today. 


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