Not sure what to expect from a sober living home/halfway house? Whether you are looking for yourself, a friend or family member, there’s a lot to think about when considering a stay in one of these homes. Many people choose to say in a sober living home for several months while they transition into long term sobriety. Naturally you’ll want to know what to expect during this time. On the whole most sober homes work in a similar way and while there are some variances here and there you can generally expect the same:
Expect an informal environment
Sober living homes are generally relaxed, personal and informal places. There
Expect a flexible stay
Sober living homes are not permanent residences, but they generally offer flexible arrangements anywhere from a few weeks up to a year. This is one of the ways that they differ significantly to rehabs which have structured stays of 30, 60 and 90 days on average. Sober homes aren’t about completing any specified program of time, they allow individuals to stay as long as is needed for them (where possible), some stay for a few months, others for 6 months or longer, it really is down to the individual.
The Step Up Inn offers flexible stay arrangements and has had people stay anywhere from 60 days to a year.
Expect the home to be managed by peers
One of the core principles of sober living homes is peer support. The vast majority of homes are managed by other residents who themselves are in recovery, rather than normal management.
Sober living homes are community spaces where everyone is encouraged to contribute and support one another. It’s very common to be assigned daily chores such as maintaining cleanliness, preparing meals, shopping and cleaning up. These chores may be assigned on rotation to maintain variety and fairness. There may be sanctions for not following house rules and in some cases this can be result in eviction. At the Step Up Inn all residents are expected to help keep all living spaces clean.
Expect quiet hours
Many homes have protected times, such as meditative time where residents are expected to maintain low levels of noise. The Step Up Inn has scheduled times each day for meditating and self-reflection.
Expect a curfew
Most sober living homes have a curfew, these vary from one home to the next. Restrictions are likely at nights and on weekends. Research suggests that these are the most common types that substance abuse is likely. 2016 study | 2013 study
The Step Up Inn has a curfew during week-days, however this can be flexible depending on work requirements.
Expect a single gender environment
Almost all sober living homes are intended for one gender only. There are sober living homes for men, and sober living homes for women but rarely are men and women mixed. Evidence suggests that recovery from substance abuse is different for men and women; there could be misunderstandings and generally having shared experiences is shown to improve outcomes.
Expect a limit on visitors
Visitors are usually restricted and rarely allowed. This helps to maintain the privacy of other guests. Most sober living homes are gender specific, you may find that a sober living home for women has restrictions on male visitors for instance. At the Step Up Inn male visitors are not allowed on the property unless they are a family member and/or approved by management.
Expect Breathalyzer and drug testing
Drug testing is likely at least when residents first arrive at a sober living home. Regular testing helps to identify potential relapse at the earliest opportunity so that individuals can receive support before things escalate. At the Step Up Inn Breathalyzer tests are mandatory and are administered three times a day. Random drugs screenings are taken at least once per week.
Expect mandatory meetings
Meetings are an important part of life in a sober living home, they help to maintain good communication between residents and resolve any conflicts amicably. They help to ensure that individuals feel supported and gain the information they need to make full use of their time there. Structured communication between co-habitats is encouraged as it can also help maintain good relationships with others after leaving the sober house.
At the Step Up Inn there is a mandatory meeting every morning. Topics covered include: relapse prevention, money management, budgeting, life planning, resume building, employment preparation and volunteering.
Expect zero tolerance on violence
Sober living homes are community spaces, often run by the residents themselves, they are not places where violence and aggression should be tolerated. In many sober homes any form of violence could be grounds for expulsion.