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Recovery and treatment in general can be an overwhelming process. So many options; so many programs and what do they all mean? What do they include? Where do you start? Although there are a lot of different types of programs available to you ranging from residential services to outpatient programming, to help provide you more information and an understanding of what you can expect moving forward, we are going to share more information on one specific treatment program, halfway houses, and will also identify the benefits or engaging in a halfway house and whether or not they are beneficial to your sobriety.


What is a Halfway House?

A halfway house is a treatment center for individuals who are in their recovery process that is looking for more structure but more freedom than an inpatient and php program offers. You may hear throughout the recovery process, “levels of care”. This is typically referring to the structured outline for treatment processes that most individuals go through during their recovery process. You tend to start off with detox and work your way through residential, some will go to PHP, and then you can go to IOP (intensive outpatient) which is a service that Halfway houses typically provide residents. Understanding that not everyone in recovery will go through the same levels of care due to it being based on needs, severity of use, and the recovery environment present for the individual.

A halfway house is a transitional living facility that still keeps you accountable to your recovery while allowing you the freedoms to begin living life again. At a halfway house you live amongst other individuals who are in recovery as well and most likely are early in their recovery program as you are. When you are engaged in residential treatment you are monitored 24 hours a day 7 days a week for a minimum of 30 days. This limits your freedom as you are unable to leave the residential program, use technology devices, work, and have your own vehicle. Halfway houses on the other hand have more freedoms and can be utilized for a longer period of time. Most individuals will go to a halfway house after completing another treatment program or sometimes incarceration. No matter what leads you to a halfway house, their are so many benefits of the program that will help in your recovery process.


Benefits of a Halfway House

As previously mentioned, Halfway houses have a lot of benefits including the ability to focus on your sobriety while living in a least restrictive programming but structured enough to help keep you accountable during your recovery process. Halfway Houses also provide specific programming similar to the programming you may receive in residential treatment. This includes daily 12-step meetings (at the halfway house and in the surrounding community), individual and group counseling, peer support, Life skills and other psychoeducation groups, including learning daily living skills, job searching and career coaching, anger management skills, relapse prevention planning, communication skills, parenting skills, and personal hygiene. The ability to engage with individuals early in recovery and that may be experiencing similar situations and concerns that you are also experiencing is very beneficial. Like residential treatment, you are housed with individuals that are also working on their recovery. You have the ability to talk about coping skills, identify triggers, and focus on building your relapse prevention planning. You have the ability to express your concerns, look at different perspectives on how to deal with difficulties, and learn from each other. Another benefit of a Halfway house is the safety and structure it provides. So many individuals are faced with returning to the people, places, and things that were present in their addiction which can be a trigger for them during this time. This gives the safe environment that is needed during this recovery process.

Rules of a Halfway House

Each Halfway house will have their own “house rules” and depending on the therapeutic approach the program utilizes this can be different therefore its important to focus on your recovery process and the coping skills and tools that are important to you in order to pick what halfway house is the most beneficial for your sobriety. Although most halfway houses have their own unique rules, here are a few that you can expect or prepare for as they are general guidelines for most halfway houses:

  1. Drug Screens upon returning to the halfway house. Whether you are going to work, going to a 12 step meetings, or visiting with your family you can expect to have a drug screen provided to you upon re-entering the program as this is important not only for your safety but for others that are residing in the halfway house as well.
  2. Following a curfew and performing assigned chores. The program is focused on accountability as well as awareness in regards to the need to be responsible in your sobriety process.
  3. Job Search. Most halfway houses have a rule regarding the ability to job search. Typically you can expect to need to be up early to begin your job search or attend group sessions to help you become more confident in your job search.
  4. Rent. Depending on the Halfway house you are a resident at there may be rules regarding rent and when it will be due or how it will be collected as well as how it is affected by the inability to obtain employment or not.
  5. Drug Free. As much as this should be something that is understood its important to stress that a halfway house is a place for those to go to to feel safe and secure in their recovery process without the temptation or feeling triggered due to drugs being present. Drugs are not permitted in a halfway house and typically result in an immediate discharge.

What is the Difference between a Halfway House and a Sober House?

Sober Living Houses are group houses that allow individuals to reside that are also drug free and beneficial for an individual’s recovery process. Halfway houses and Sober Houses can be challenging to identify the differences. In a way they appear to be very similar however they are very different. For example, not all sober living houses will be exactly the same with expectations set for those who reside there. As previously mentioned, a Halfway House requires the individuals to work (or at least attempt to obtain employment) and attend treatment services such as Intensive Outpatient Programming (IOP) or 12 step programming, where not all sober living houses have the same requirements or expectations. Some Sober Living houses are simply a place for the individual to stay where they feel safe because there are no drugs or alcohol allowed. Other Sober Living Houses, like halfway houses, also offer treatment services. Sober living houses also have other freedoms that Halfway Houses don’t allow. For example, those that are living at a halfway house cannot leave the house to do group outings like shopping or even going somewhere alone (for a walk or such) is something that is permitted where at a Halfway House this is not always the case because it is more structured and staff oriented where there is limitations on the ability to do social outings and engagements without staff supervision. Sober Living Houses maintain this privilege by enforcing curfews as well as engaging in drug screens (which is something as mentioned before that halfway houses also require).

Recovery Houses also tend to be easier in regard to financial requirements. Halfway Houses typically rely on funding through government agencies which can result in individuals being forced to complete their time in the program compared to a recovery house where there is no time restriction for how long an individual can reside at the home due to paying rent. Rent typically varies from recovery home however it can range around $450 – $750 a month in Pennsylvania.

When deciding on a treatment program it is important to remember what is important to you during this process. You want to explore the programs and activities that are offered to you during the treatment process. What is something that you need during this time? What do you value and how can the treatment program help with challenging you to maintain your recovery but also learn through the process? There are a lot of options for you, it just takes you being open minded and willing to start the process!



Recovery.org: What is a Halfway House

Members.ccbh..com: Halfway House: Health Choice Members- Community Care

Encyclopedia.com: Halfway House

Projectknow.com: Sober Living homes

Rivierarecovery.com: Difference Between Sober House and Halfway House