7 Things to Look for When Choosing a Sober Living House

Sober Living houses are a great way for building a foundation for your long term recovery and to assist with learning to rebuild a better quality of life after an addiction. A great sober living house provides safety and structure to the individual. While assisting in the process of helping rediscover normal, addiction free daily routines, a sober living home will more than likely help someone to learn to maintain a new sober lifestyle rather than go back into the world straight from detox or residential treatment centers.


With so many different transitional housing options available, certain characteristics need to be sought out. Choosing the right sober living home for the individual is like shopping for a new car and there is one that is right for everyone.

Here are some key considerations when looking for a good sober living facility:

  1. An alcohol and drug FREE living environment for all of its residents attempting to abstain from alcohol and drugs.
  2. A requirement to attend 12-step meetings such as AA or NA. Sober living homes typically don’t offer actual treatment for the residents, they only provide a social supportive environment for recovering addicts. Requiring residents to attend meetings will help ensure that the individual is taking responsibility of their own recovery.
  3. A requirement to comply with house rules. Some examples would be paying rent and other fees on time, maintaining abstinence, attending house meetings, and participating in weekly house chores. Responsibilities such as these help residents to gain a sense of ownership and autonomy before living in the community again.
  4. Group meeting attendance and skills building within the sober living house. Finding a home that provides activities for the residents that work on developing skills is helpful such as cooking classes, help with keeping a budget, or help designing an effective resume to perform job searches.
  5. Some sort of resident council. A sober living house that allows their residents to have a say in any serious house matters helps to give the individual a sense of responsibility and fosters a community of collaboration and support.
  6. No minimum or maximum amount of time it’s residents can live there. A sober living that has an open ended invitation to stay in the house as long as they would like to matters greatly in eliminating the pressures of being alone or independent in the community. Allowing residents a longer stay than others should not be penalized.
  7. Offer opportunities regularly that involve volunteer or work by the residents. Sober living homes that encompass daily routine work encourage an individual to feel like they are giving back to their community. This helps with resume building, and it teaches it’s residents to learn how to be involved in their community and take pride in the work they do.

Not every sober living will have all seven of these characteristics. In fact, many of them won’t over more than two of them! But that does not necessarily make them bad sober living homes – use this list is merely as a starting point for analysis.

Other factors to look at are cost, gender preferences, location and whether or not transportation is provided by management.

Make sure to tour and meet the home’s residents before committing to living there. The best sober living home is the one that feels the most comfortable and safe to the individual. Getting along with the staff and management is also important since they are the backbone of the operation.

Other Items to Consider When Choosing the Right Sober Living House

Here are some additional items to consider when deciding on a sober living home. Is the house staffed with employees or is it a peer run model? Peer run homes can be very successful and strong, but be warned that they can also be a very unhealthy environment if those who live there do not maintain their own recovery. It is nearly impossible for an alcoholic or addict to recover when surrounded by a bunch of sick people.

Does the staff in the home have any credentials or educational background? If so, then how many years of experience do they have in working with alcoholics and drug addicts?

Additionally, do they have any experience in working with those who may have a history of trauma or co-occurring illness? Do they have any knowledge of multiple treatment modalities as well as knowing how to utilize them appropriately to meet the needs of the client?

How about drug testing? Does the facility that you are considering drug test their residents? If so, how often? Who performs the drug testing? Are they scheduled or random? Are they CLIA waived tests? Most importantly, what protocols are put into place if a drug test does come back positive?

Thoroughly Research the Sober Living Facility

Another topic that is important to question is the staff turnover rates for the program or sober living house that you are considering. Having a long term staff at a program demonstrates a number of principles that are important for the newly sober individual to see. Accountability, responsibility, discipline, commitment, and the importance of self care are just a few of these lessons that are demonstrated through the actions of healthy, long term staff members.

Take some time to write down the questions that are important for you to ask as they related to you loved one. You may end up with a program that offers more services than you feel like you need, but the goal is to stop the cycle of relapse once and for all, and provide the best foundation possible on which to construct a new life. This opportunity should provide the alcoholic or addict with the necessary skills to finally learn how to live life sober, and set them on a path to which they may then offer a helping hand to the next person who still suffers from this vicious disease.


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