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Is a Halfway House the Same as a Sober Living Home?

The terms halfway house and sober living home are often confused, as if they’re essentially the same.  In truth, they are the same thing, and they’re not. Are you confused?

Let’s explore this.

Halfway houses were traditionally state-run facilities for people who had been incarcerated; their purpose to help inmates transition from prison life to the outside world.

These government supported houses evolved to support people who had completed an addiction treatment program.  Many halfway houses stopped taking former prisoners entirely to concentrate on those battling addiction.


Sober Living Home


Why a halfway house is different to a sober living home

A halfway house is very similar to a sober living home, but there are some minor differences:

  • Residents are usually expected to take part in 12 Step Program or other addiction recovery and maintenance program.
  • There is usually a limit on how long individuals can stay (often 12 months).
  • They often provide medication management and treatment facilities.
  • There are house rules and other restrictions that must be followed
  • Residents must show an ability to pay or be required to be on Medicaid (Title 19).

Today many halfway houses have been replaced by private entities known as sober living homes.  These homes tend to have more relaxed rules.


How a sober living home is different:

  • Sober living homes don’t usually require an individual to have completed any formal addiction treatment.
  • Residents can usually stay for as long as they want.
  • Residents can choose to take part in addiction treatment or not.


Why a halfway house is the same as a sober living home

In some US states, there are no state-run halfway houses. They have been replaced by privately run sober living houses.  In this case people often use the term “halfway house” in place of “sober living house”. Adding to the confusion, many sober living homes call themselves a halfway house.

This is true in Connecticut where there are no state-run halfway houses.  Some people refer to the Step Up Inn as a halfway house.


How to tell the difference

If you’re unsure whether you are looking at a sober living house or a halfway house, the way to tell them apart is to look at the services they offer.

If you’re looking for a state-run sober home, it shouldn’t be difficult to find the information.  Halfway houses can still charge, although their fees may be subsidised or capped.

If you’re going to be paying the fee, you need to look at the services and rules of the home.  Halfway houses sometimes prescribed to people who are deemed to be more likely to relapse, since they have tighter rules, procedures are put in place to make this less likely.

Don’t worry whether it’s a halfway house or sober living house or whether one’s better than the other.  Often they’re the same thing.

What you really want to be doing is looking beyond the label and seeing what it is that the house has to offer. Do they provide the most appropriate environment and supplementary services for your situation?


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