Sober living houses

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Sober living houses (SLH), more commonly called sober homes and sober living homes and more rarely sober living environments, are facilities used by people recovering from substance abuse that serve as an interim environment between rehab and mainstream society.[1] SLHs grew out of a need to have safe and supportive places in which people could live while they were vulnerable in early recovery. They are primarily meant to provide housing for people who have just come out of rehab (or recovery centers) and need a place to live that is structured and supporting for those in recovery.[2] However, it is not necessary to come from rehab.


Sober living houses (SLHs) are "alcohol- and drug-free living environments for individuals attempting to maintain abstinence from alcohol and drugs".[3] Many of them are structured around 12-step programs and sound recovery methodologies. Many are also certified or governed by Sober Living Coalitions or Networks. Residents are often required to participate in 12-step meetings, take drug tests and show demonstrably that they are taking important steps to long lasting recovery. "Because there is no formal monitoring of SLHs that are not affiliated with associations or coalitions, it is impossible to provide an exact number of SLHs."[4]

Sober living is seen in greater detail in Sober House, a spinoff of Celebrity Rehab, which documents alumni of Celebrity Rehab as they enter such facilities. VH1, which airs both shows, describes sober living thus:

A sober living house is an interim step on the path to sobriety where people recovering from addiction can live in a supervised and sober environment with structure and rules, i.e. mandatory curfews, chores and therapeutic meetings. This can, however, invite corruption when certain people who have never had a position of authority before decide to play God. In this show, celebrity addicts, most of whom have spent the better part of their lives in the throes of addiction, will learn how to essentially start their lives over from the ground up. In many cases, successfully maintaining sobriety requires patients to alter everything about their previous lives when they were actively addicted to alcohol and other drugs. This could include changing jobs, eliminating friends and even abandoning loved ones who are deemed toxic to their sobriety.[5]

Most sober livings are not co-ed, though plenty do exist. And some SLHs are Sober Colleges, which means they are centered solely around helping young people recover, and operate much like a sober dormitory. Many sober livings are also intensive outpatient treatment centers; which means that they provide a degree of medical care on-site. Often these homes are staffed in shifts by psychiatric nurses and licensed clinical social workers so that the residents (guests) can have 24hr supervision and centralized recovery care without the stress of cleaning or cooking.

In some areas, sober homes have been linked to fraudulent insurance scams. This has prompted the proposal of bills that would regulate advertising and require registration for new homes. [6]

Resident requirements[edit]

Each individual SLH will have different requirements for the residents, but many will have these typical requirements:

  1. No drugs, alcohol, violence, or overnight guests
  2. Active participation in recovery meetings
  3. Random drug and alcohol tests
  4. On-time guest fee payments
  5. Involvement in either work, school, or an outpatient program
  6. General acceptance by peer group at the SLH


SLHs have been shown to improve sustained recovery when utilized in conjunction of 12 step programs.[7] As a whole, experienced addiction treatment providers agree that remaining in sober living/aftercare following treatment can result in substantially improved results. One of the key factors has to do with level of structure, however. Residences utilizing a higher level of structure tend to see dramatically improved results in terms of long-term sobriety.

In some cases, sober living homes will contract with licensed drug rehab centers and therapists as a means for providing an even greater level of care. These types of sober livings do tend to charge higher fees, however, they are often able to provide a very affordable alternative to what would otherwise constitute high-priced inpatient treatment.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Polcin, DL; Korcha, R; Bond, J; Galloway, G (2010). "What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go from Here?". J Psychoactive Drugs. 42 (4): 425–33. doi:10.1080/02791072.2010.10400705. PMC 3057870. PMID 21305907.
  2. ^ Rosenblatt, Susannah (2008-05-22). "Newport Beach sober-living homes scramble to complete city's permit process". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-05-27.
  3. ^ Wittman. "Affordable housing for people with alcohol and other drug problems". Contemporary Drug Problems. 20 (3): 541–609.
  4. ^ Polcin, Douglas L.; Henderson, Diane McAllister (June 2008). "A Clean and Sober Place to Live: Philosophy, Structure, and Purported Therapeutic Factors in Sober Living Houses". Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. 40 (2): 153–159. doi:10.1080/02791072.2008.10400625. PMC 2556949.
  5. ^ "Sober House 2 With Dr. Drew - Peep the Cast", February 25, 2010
  6. ^ Sweeney, Dan (2017-06-27). "New state law bans sober homes from falsely advertising services and locations". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2017-06-30.
  7. ^ Polcin, DL; Korcha, RA; Bond, J; Galloway, G (2010). "Sober living houses for alcohol and drug dependence: 18-month outcomes". J Subst Abuse Treat. 38 (4): 356–65. doi:10.1016/j.jsat.2010.02.003. PMC 2860009. PMID 20299175.