What is Sober Living?

The term “Sober Living Home” is often misunderstood. Often times, Sober living homes are mistakenly referred to as a Halfway Houses, Boarding Homes, Shelters and even in some cases (mostly derogatory) as a “Flop House”. While some sober living homes may provide some of these services, most do not.

Sober living homes are affordable, alcohol and drug free environments that provide a positive place for peer group recovery support. Sober housing promotes individual recovery by providing an environment that allows the residents to develop individual recovery programs and become self supporting.

The majority of sober living homes are privately owned and operated by an individual or small partnership. Less than a third are registered as a “Non Profit Organization . Most do not receive government subsidies or grants. However, some of the residents may qualify for individual social security benefits.

The typical sober living home is a single-family residence, duplex or multiunit complex located in a quiet residential neighborhood. The residents are required to follow a strict set of house rules. Violation of the rules can result in assessment of minor financial fines, writing an essay, to immediate ejection from the home.

The single most common rule is a zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol. This includes normal everyday medicine cabinet items as, mouthwash, cold medicines, and after-shave or food items such as vanilla. Most sober living homes do random or surprise drug and alcohol testing. The use of 52 proof mouthwash , 70 proof vanilla, opiate or alcohol based cold medicines will cause a false positive test. Not to mention intoxication if consumed in quantities. Other zero tolerance rules include violence, threats of violence, fighting, harassment, theft, sex on the premises and unexcused absence or violation of curfews.

Each resident is required to be financially self-supporting, paying their own rent and purchasing their own food. The residents are required to work, actively seek employment, or be a student enrolled in an accredited academic or trade school. Those who are permanently disabled and on federal, state or local assistance are required to become involved in service to the home or the community. All residents are required to attend a minimum number of weekly 12 Step meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous.

Living is very communal in a sober living home. Residents share the facilities and their rooms. Most sober homes are gender specific. There are very few co-ed sober homes. Location, occupant density and services provided are the primary factors affecting rents. There are no credit checks performed. Utilities are included. The only requirement is a desire to stay clean and sober, follow the house rules and pay your rent on time.