How to Find the Right Sober Living House

For many people in recovery, a major obstacle to staying sober comes in the form of a lack of drug-free and stable housing. The risk of relapse is much higher for those who do not have access to long-term support for their recovery–especially if they have a history of homelessness or incarceration. Even the most highly motivated individuals can stumble and relapse when they live in a destructive environment that does not support sobriety.

Sober living houses (also called SLH) were created to bridge this gap between formal treatment and long-term recovery. Sober living houses do not offer formal treatment for substance abuse and they are not government funded. However, many sober living houses emphasize a 12-step philosophy and residents are expected to attend support groups in addition to completing household chores and living by house rules. Generally, residents are allowed to stay for as long as they need, but they have to pay for their own living expenses.

Sober living houses can be a wonderful resource for those recovering from addiction who have no stable home environment to transition into. But it’s important that you choose your sober living house wisely as corruption and predatory practices have plagued the system.

While most sober living houses are a wonderful resource for recovery and support, it’s important to know what questions to ask and what red flags to watch out for when you’re considering an SLH because they are not regulated by the government and are held to no specific standards. Protect your well being, your mental health, and your sobriety by forearming yourself with knowledge.

A Sober Living House Is Not Free

Some disreputable sober living houses have been known to lure in residents by offering free stays or even “pay” to come stay in the facility. They do this to gather personal and insurance information that can be used to file false claims. The scammers who offer “pay” are giving residents a kickback to help perpetuate the fraud or to help recruit more residents, like a traditional pyramid scheme.

The average cost of a sober living house nationally is about $650 per month (prices vary per location). So when you are considering a certain SLH, make sure to ask about all fees and charges that you’ll be responsible for. There should be well defined fees and a refund policy presented to you to look over before you give them any money.

If you are unsure about anything, ask a trusted family member or friend to look your paperwork over, or a lawyer if you have access to one. A reputable SLH will have no problem with you taking a copy of their policies.

Sober Living Houses Should Be Clean and Safe

While sober living houses are seldom fancy, they should not be rundown, unclean, or unsafe. A reputable SLH will be well-maintained and have enough space for the residents to live comfortably. You should never have to sleep on the floor or in the hallway.

Don’t trust pictures alone – always ask for a tour of the facility before you move in. If they refuse, find a different place to stay. If possible, ask around and see if you can get any testimonials from former residents of the house.

Remember, even if you’ve been used to worse in the past, your environment has a significant impact on your mental health and well-being and can directly affect your sobriety – so practice self-care by choosing wisely.

A good sober living house will have:

  • A neat, clean interior
  • An exterior that’s kept as well as – or better than – the surrounding neighborhood
  • Sleeping quarters in the home itself – not in the garage or shed out back
  • No broken windows or locks
  • A working kitchen and bathroom
  • Adequately lit rooms for evening light

Drug Testing and Abstinence Should Be Required

It can feel invasive, but to protect the sobriety of all residents, drug use cannot be allowed in a sober living home. The whole purpose of the home is to remove residents from drugs and alcohol so they can focus on recovery and rebuild their lives. While drug testing is standard, it should still be carried out voluntarily by the residents and should be conducted in a dignified and respectful manner.

There should also be a written and clearly communicated disciplinary policy for residents who test positive for drugs or alcohol or who refuse to take the tests. If you have any questions about the policy, ask them. A reputable sober living house will be happy to answer your questions and give you a copy of the policy.

Sober living houses are a wonderful way to transition into your new life–especially if you don’t have a safe place to return to otherwise. Just make sure you keep an eye out, and if something feels off, trust your gut. If you have any questions or would like a recommendation for a sober living house in your area, contact Palmetto Recovery.