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What Happens at a Sober Living House?

clients at sober living home

Sober living homes or sober homes are an increasingly popular next-step after rehab. In fact, in many government programs, sober living homes or “halfway houses” are actually a mandatory step in recovery. If you’re considering going to one, understanding what a sober living house actually is, what you’ll get there, and how it works can help. That’s also true if you’re planning recovery treatment for your loved one and are wondering whether sober living should be a step after rehab or if they can integrate directly back into their old life.

A sober living home or house is a communal living center built around offering sobriety, structured living, and sobriety support. Depending on the facility, it may be government driven, which means it will likely work with parole offices. It may also be entirely private and may resemble a luxury living center with communal meals and chores.

In addition, what actually happens at a sober living house will vary a great deal from center to center. However, in most cases, you can expect the following:

Structured Living

A structured schedule can be an important part of recovery. For example, if you take care of your physical and mental health, you’re much more likely to feel good and to build the discipline that allows you to stay clean and sober. Yet, many people struggle to build those rituals and routines on their own.

A sober living home will help with that by offering:

  • Bedtime and wake up time for the entire house. Most will have a lights out and a lights on routine in the morning, which makes it difficult to not go to bed with everyone else.
  • Meals at set times in a group, often prepared in-house or as a group effort, meeting standards for health. Many will start out by working to help you build habits of cooking well and how to do that simply and easily. Others will rely on a chef or in-house cook to supply everything for you so that you can focus on recovery.
  • Exercise as a group, such as daily yoga lessons or spin class or walking.
  • Cleaning schedules that everyone is expected to take part in

This allows you to build skills and habits as a group, and with the benefit of group and peer pressure. Social accountability can be extremely helpful in getting you to actually engage with habits and routines, because everyone around you is going through the same things you are and they are taking part in making life better – living up to that and working on yourself becomes more natural and more easy.


Sober living homes are often built around helping you to stay clean and sober for longer out of rehab – giving you the opportunity to work on yourself and the skills you learned in rehab without relapsing. That can include checkups, assessments, and even room searches. You won’t be allowed to bring drugs or alcohol back into your room and if you do, there will be consequences. That obviously won’t stop someone from drinking or using if they really want to, but it can create another obstacle that makes it harder.

Checkups can also range from extremely light to more invasive. For example, your sober home could trust that you won’t use or drink. On the other hand, you might be escorted every time you leave the premises to ensure that you don’t have the opportunity to do so. What you get really depends on what kind of rehab center you go to.

check up and assessment at sober living homes

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Communal Meals and Chores

Communal meals and chores can go a long way towards helping people to feel less alone, to helping people feel like they are part of a community, and to improving mood and to helping you reengage with life. Having people around you will almost always help with feeling supported and feeling able to do something.

Communal Meals and Chores

Sober homes are essentially a community of people who are all working towards the same goals. And, you can work as a community to improve your life.

That can:

  • Reduce feelings of loneliness
  • Increase social accountability
  • Create opportunities to make sober friends
  • Create opportunities for sober activities and socializing
  • Improve feelings of success and progress

In addition, having people to talk to means you’ll have a better understanding of how more people experience substance use disorder and recovery – which can help you with your own recovery.

Access to Activities

Some sober homes are nothing more than living areas that enforce sobriety. Others offer activities, outings, and parties that ensure you have an ongoing social life, without risking being around drugs or alcohol. That can be immensely helpful especially for people how have been addicted for a long time, because you’ll have to figure out what you like to do with your spare time without drugs and alcohol.

Having group classes, exercise and sports, games, and parties can give you those opportunities in an extremely accessible format. However, not every sober home offers them, so if you want this kind of support, you’ll have to specifically look for it in a sober home.

Light Support

Many sober homes have a counselor on call or available on the premises. Others do not. This means that it is likely you’ll be able to get light support and help as you move into goals for your life. For example, you may be able to get help with ongoing cravings and struggling around sobriety or staying clean. You might also be able to have someone checking in on you and recommending you into further treatment if you need it. These offerings depend on what kind of counseling your sober home has available.

In most cases, any support you have available will be light. But, even getting life skills-based counseling can help you to improve your journey towards recovery by giving you better insight and more tools to use as you progress.

Eventually, sober homes are a good step for many people. They provide an easier alternative to living by yourself after getting clean or sober. And, they can give you support, social accountability, and reduce feelings of loneliness in early recovery – while ensuring you are in a drug and alcohol-free living situation. That doesn’t ensure you stay clean or sober, but it does help.

If you or a loved one is seeking help for alcohol or other substance abuse, contact us at Stairway Resource Center today. At Stairway Resource Center we provide a 60 to 90-day outpatient program that takes place in an engaging and supportive community setting. We offer dual diagnosis treatment and daily group and individual therapy for our clients, in addition to fun community-based events and activities.

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Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken in place of medical advice. Before making any decisions regarding your health, please consult your doctor. The staff at Stairway Resource Center develops a custom treatment plan for each of our patients. Specific medical advice will be provided to our patients by our professional providers while in our care.