Sober Living Homes vs. Halfway Houses: A Comprehensive Comparison

Making the transition from an inpatient rehabilitation program back out into the world can be a challenge. After all, inpatient programs provide round-the-clock support and, perhaps most importantly, a drug- and alcohol-free environment where people can focus on their journeys toward sobriety without having to worry about facing constant temptation. Unfortunately, the same can’t always be said of home environments.

The good news is that there are excellent options for people who don’t have supportive home environments. Arguably the best of them is to seek sober living near you. Some people also live in halfway homes as they transition back into normal life. This article will offer a comprehensive comparison of the two residential options to make sure that everyone winds up with the best support system given their needs.

What Is a Sober Living Home?

Sober living is a temporary arrangement for people who are attending outpatient rehab but don’t have a safe place to do so at home. Some residents move into sober living homes after completing inpatient programs, while others move in when they start intensive outpatient treatment. All of the residents in a sober living home will be committed to abstaining from substance use completely, creating a temptation-free environment where people in the early stages of addiction recovery can practice new skills and shape their new lives.

How Sober Living Works

Every sober living home is a little different, although all of them take steps to hold residents accountable for maintaining abstinence. Some sober living homes only take in people who are actively receiving addiction treatment, while others have residents in all stages of recovery. There are four types of sober living homes, which include:

Level 1: Peer-Run Homes

Peer-run sober living homes are usually small, private residences where household operations are democratically run and there are no paid clinical positions. Routine drug screenings and attendance at house meetings are often required.

Level 2: Monitored Homes

Monitored sober living homes are also small in scale. They are typically run by compensated house managers. Residents generally attend regular peer-run groups in addition to house meetings.

Level 3: Supervised Homes

Supervised sober living homes are usually licensed facilities that have organizational hierarchies and administrative oversight. They tend to be larger than monitored or peer-run homes. Residents are offered clinical services, and staff members are certified in their field. 

Level 4: Integrated Homes

Integrated homes provide a more institutional environment and act as a transition for those completing addiction treatment programs. There is a strong emphasis on life skills development, all staff are credentialed, and clinical services are offered in-house.

What Are Halfway Houses?

Halfway houses are similar to sober living in that they make it easier for residents to transition between institutions and independent life. Drug screenings are a routine part of life and there are typically additional recovery, educational, mental health, and medical services available. The primary difference is that the residents could be coming from either inpatient treatment or correctional facilities and are often court-ordered to live there.

Find the Right Living Environment

For those attending outpatient rehabilitation programs or trying to reintegrate back into normal life from inpatient drug detox, a sober living home is almost always the best option. Most programs offer referrals to sober living homes in the area, although some may also accept referrals from other program participants, family members, friends, or mental health professionals.