In some ways, it’s easy to understand why people confuse the difference between sober living and halfway houses. They both work as a type of housing to ease the transition for people who no longer need inpatient treatment, but who aren’t yet ready to return home to fully independent living. Both sober living homes and halfway houses can provide the support and community that people working on sobriety need. But these housing options do have a few key differences.

The History of Halfway Houses

Halfway houses date back to 18th century England, when they were opened to house children who had committed crimes. Similar houses opened in the United States to house people who had recently been released from prison.

Today, many still house recently released criminals or are used as a solution for homelessness, while other halfway houses are devoted to housing people who have recently completed treatment for addiction. Often, residents of halfway houses have been court-ordered to stay there for a pre-determined period of time.

Sober Living Homes

Like halfway houses, sober living homes have a long history. Beginning in the 1830s, organizations with religious affiliations began opening “dry” hotels where residents were required to abstain from alcohol.1

Also like halfway houses, sober living homes have evolved. Some facilities, like Real Recovery’s sober living homes, offer residents lots of structure and support to continue working on their recovery, while others are less regimented.

The Difference Between Sober Living and Halfway Houses

When you’re looking for support while you work on your sobriety skills, it’s important to understand the difference between sober living and halfway houses so you can decide which one might be right for you.

Today, some sober living homes are affiliated with addiction treatment centers, while others, like Real Recovery, are run by sober living experts whose sole focus is to provide a safe living environment for people who are in this stage of their recovery.

So what is a halfway house? By contrast, some halfway houses are run by government agencies. Halfway houses can be crowded and dorm-like, while sober living homes are structured more like a private residence, affording residents more privacy and comfort.2

Another key difference between sober living and halfway houses is the cost. Halfway houses tend to be the less expensive option, because they typically have fewer amenities, little privacy and less structure. However, sober living is sometimes covered by insurance, which makes this a viable option for people who could benefit from this level of support.

Real Recovery’s Sober Living Houses

Just as there’s a difference between sober living and halfway houses, there are also significant differences among sober living homes. Real Recovery’s focus on outdoor adventure, dedication to fostering family-like relationship between residents and ongoing 12-step recovery support set these sober living houses apart from other homes.

Curious to learn more about the difference between sober living and halfway houses and whether living in one of Real Recovery’s four sober living homes should be the next step in your recovery journey? Contact Real Recovery to talk about your options.


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