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If you have recently completed an inpatient or outpatient rehab program, or just feel the need for more structure for your life while you get established in recovery, you might be considering a sober living option. However, this can be a confusing process. Many addiction treatment centers offer comprehensive “aftercare planning,” which generally entails a counselor helping you sort through your options and find the best sober living fit for you. If you don’t have access to this type of assistance, you might be overwhelmed by the options and unsure of which is best for you. Here is a general list of sober living facilities, and the differences between them.

  • Halfway Houses.Halfway House has become a somewhat confusing term. Traditionally, halfway houses were transitional housing for people who had recently been released from incarceration. Halfway houses provided a safe and structured environment, where parolees could live while they got their life together and got back on their feet. However, nowadays halfway houses can also be sober living facilities. Generally residents pay a minimal rent or fee to live in the house, and there is no limit on duration of stay. These houses (unlike the more traditional option) have no legal oversight, but are generally run by an owner or “house manager” that ensures the house rules are followed. These rules can include everything from a curfew (generally as a probationary measure), to a required number of recovery meetings per week, to chores, to random drug tests, to limits on guests, but always require sobriety as a term of residence.
  • Oxford Houses.Oxford Houses are run by the people who live there- meaning there is no external manager or “administrator.” Peer support is the key focus of these facilities, with the idea that the residents come together to make decisions as a group and support each other, ideally creating the safest possible environment for their collective recovery. Current residents interview and vote on potential new tenants, and generally a large majority of the residents need to agree before someone is allowed to move in. Rent is paid by all residents, and generally there is some structure in terms of chore assignments and elected “officers” that keep the house running smoothly.
  • 3/4 Houses.These houses are similar to halfway houses, but with less structure and rules in place. Lighter or no curfews, ability to have “overnights” elsewhere, and generally fewer rules, because at that stage residents are expected to have a fairly solid recovery plan in place. They mostly provide a safe and sober living arrangement for people who are in need of some structure, but are stable enough to not need quite as much of it as a halfway house provides.

You may be thinking to yourself that one or all of these options sounds too restrictive. After all, you are an adult that is more than capable of making your own decisions. But just remember, your decisions are what led you down the path of addiction in the first place (and likely kept you there). If you have completed a rehab program, sober living is a great way to help you stay focused on your recovery and continue towards reclaiming your life- and preventing relapse. The community formed in most sober living houses is invaluable. Your housemates often become lifelong friends- people you can turn to with questions, or lean on when you are stressed. The accountability provided by sober living facilities helps to ensure that you have a safe place in which to begin your new life of recovery. Just make sure you do your homework. Addiction counselors, people in your local recovery community, and the internet (of course) are all great resources to use to find out which facilities are reputable and trustworthy.