Sober living provides a place to continue recovery from addiction. It provides an environment of support, safety and fellowship. It offers the opportunity to maintain sobriety (from drugs and/or alcohol) after leaving a more structured residential treatment (rehab) situation.
Sober houses vary in oversight from extremely restrictive and closely monitored to self-governing, where residents hold each other accountable. Many houses offer live-in house managers/assistant house managers, who are on site 24/7, while others may have managers who work outside the home but are available outside of their work hours and live on premises. More restrictive houses may not allow residents to have cars, cellphones or overnights away, until a specific period of time has passed. They typically provide more programming and structure. They may require the resident to attend school, be employed, or actively looking for employment. These houses may also require sign-in/sign-out and a specific number of meeting requirements per week. In addition, they will breathalyze and UA test randomly. In addition, more structured sober homes employ 24 hour staff to provide oversight.
Less restrictive houses may allow residents to have their vehicles, cell phones, etc. and allow overnights based on trust and knowledge that the resident is in compliance with all house rules. Testing may occur less frequently in this type of house.
Self-governing houses are just that – residents hold each other accountable and house rules don’t look much different from the less restrictive houses. The restrictions may be less stringent, but house rules still apply.
It seems typically that all houses require the residents to:
- Attend School, Or
- Be Employed, Or
- Be Seeking Employment
- Attend a Specific Number of Meetings Per Week
- Find a Sponsor
Houses vary in cost and number of residents. More expensive houses typically have less residents, with 6-8 being the average. They may offer single rooms for an additional charge. Generally, they provide single or double rooms, and often can have 4 residents to a room. They may (and often do,) include food and a membership to a local gym or recreation center. A sober coach may be included initially, with the resident having the option to retain the sober coach at his/her own expense after that initial period.
Lower cost houses may have up to 12+ residents and food may not be included in their monthly rent. Sleeping arrangements are generally a minimum of 2 to a room and up to as many as 4.
Costs can range from $400-$900+ a month for larger residency homes and $4,000+ a month for more individualized programs with single residency rooms and a typical maximum of 6-8 residents in the house. The average cost seems to be $1500-2500 per month in the DFW area.
Sober houses do not accept insurance. Insurance does not cover sober living. If a sober living is associated with an IOP or other clinical services, insurance may often be utilized for those services.
Length of Stay
Length of stay depends on a multitude of issues but seems to average anywhere between 3 months up to a year. Obviously, every case is different, and there are cases of residents staying less time or more time depending on their individual needs.
Most houses offer weekly step studies or AA big book meetings, in-house
Many sober houses provide opportunities for social fellowship with other houses, and/or volunteer, service opportunities within the community
Sober houses are generally gender-specific, although there are a small number of co-ed houses. This is not generally recommended for recovery due to the obvious distractions.
Some sober houses are age specific, i.e. failure to launch younger teens to early 20s. Some cater to an older, professional type (typically 30+). Most seem to have a mix in age, but if it is important to you, it is certainly worth exploring when interviewing houses.
Sober living houses will not tolerate relapse because it is dangerous for others in the house. Each house handles relapse differently, but it is typical for the person to be removed from the house and taken somewhere safe, i.e. a hospital, if necessary, detox, or a rehab center. Zero tolerance is the norm in sober living.
Texas does not require formal accreditation for sober homes, although there are widely accepted and respected accreditation organizations available for application (i.e. TROHN – Texas Recovery Oriented Housing Network, NARR – National Alliance for Recovery Residences.)
- Sober living residents can expect weekly in-home “check-in” meetings
- Chores are generally shared and rotated
- Some rehab centers offer their own versions of sober living
- Some sober living homes are corporate owned, while others are individually owned and operated.
Questions To Consider When Seeking Sober Living Options:
- Consider geography – If the potential resident is working and must go to his/her place of employment, a house that is 40 miles away may not work. Or, if the individual is not comfortable being distanced from family, doctors, etc., consider the locations when interviewing houses.
- Cost – what would be affordable and manageable for the future resident and/or his family if they are helping financially. Ask each house what is included in the monthly rent.
- Is there 24 hour staff, a house manager, or is it led by peers?
- How many people live in the house? What are sleeping accommodations?
- What is the age demographic in the house?
- Do they offer med management, therapy, access to sober coaching, IOP centers nearby?
- Is family allowed to visit the house with prior arrangements? Is it encouraged?
- Are overnights allowed? Can the future resident have his/her car, phone?
- Is the house manager only on site at night? Who has oversight during times when the house manager is away?
- How do they handle relapse? How frequently have relapses occurred?
- How long has the house been in operation?