Sober living homes are similar to halfway houses or other recovery residences, but they have different standards for residents and do not receive government or health insurance funding. Instead, residents pay rent and funds to cover other bills to the home, just as they would for an apartment or rental house.
What Are Sober Living Homes?
Sober living homes have grown out of the halfway house recovery movement, but they improved on the original concept. Modern sober living homes are regulated by state governments. They are often members of certification agencies and programs, like the National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR).
Residences generally require attendance at mutual support groups and house meetings. They maintain a drug- and alcohol-free environment that allows those completing standard rehabilitation treatment programs to maintain abstinence and continue improving their lives and health.
Living in a sober home allows residents the ability to avoid drugs or alcohol while returning to many important parts of life, like school or work responsibilities. There is less structure in sober living homes compared to inpatient or residential treatment programs, but there are some requirements that help maintain a sense of community among those living there.
While rehabilitation typically has a specific treatment plan implemented over a certain period of time, like three months, sober homes do not have a specific time limit on how long you stay. Most residents live in sober homes for a year or less. They move out once they have fully established a stable life and learned new habits.
Do You Need a Sober Living Home?
You do not have to enter a sober living home once you have completed a rehabilitation program, but for many, sober homes offer ongoing support that helps them continue to avoid relapse.
Typically, people who benefit from inpatient treatment will benefit the most from access to sober living homes. Those who function best with outpatient treatment for any reason often find stability while living at home. Those who need to remove themselves from their existing environment often benefit from several more months away from their homes, so they can avoid triggers.
The average sober living home does not receive government funding and is not covered by health insurance. Instead, they run on rent and related fees paid by residents.
There is a “house monitor” or supervisor who helps maintain the property. This is often someone who completed addiction treatment and wants to support others in this process.
Recovery Success & Sober Living Homes
Sober homes work best for those who have completed a rehabilitation program already, as rehabilitation offers consistent access to behavioral counseling. Most sober homes do not accept residents who have not completed a rehabilitation program, even if it is a standard outpatient program with few required therapy hours.
A study of California sober homes found that many residents made huge improvements in their sobriety and lifestyle during their time living in this arrangement. The study found that, of 130 residents, about 56 percent had moved out by the 6-month follow-up point. Of those who remained in sober housing, 40 percent reported ongoing complete abstinence from drugs or alcohol, and 24 percent reported remaining abstinent for 5 of the last 6 months. This was a great improvement over abstinence periods before moving into the sober home, when residents reported struggling with substance abuse 3 out of 6 months.
Another study found that many areas of residents’ lives improved across an 18-month study. Researchers followed 254 residents entering sober living homes and found that they all experienced improvements in alcohol and drug use, employment, psychiatric severity and the need for brief interventions, and arrests. The study noted that success was correlated with two factors:
- Attending mutual support groups like 12-step programs
- Making friends who were also abstinent from drugs and alcohol
Sober Living Resources in Galloway, New Jersey
New Jersey state law is improving to better support sober living homes and deter scammers. The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs has developed legislation requiring a Class F License, stating that sober living homes fall under rooming and boarding laws for specific safety requirements and number of residents, with a new category called “cooperative sober living residences.”
This law requires that sober homes meet specific criteria. Sober homes must:
- Meet the definition of a single-family residence, which is 10 or fewer residents on the premises.
- Have one staff member or operator on site to oversee the health and safety of residents.
This is an adjustment to previous laws that required only an application for licensure to operate the home with the state. Now, these adjustments can improve conditions for those who need recovery housing. They also differentiate sober homes from other homes with more residences; these other homes can apply for a different license.
NARR has a branch in New Jersey, the New Jersey Alliance of Recovery Residences, that operates under NARR’s code of ethics for recovery homes. This includes stopping discrimination or harassment; maintaining safety, including monitoring for drug or alcohol abuse; and respecting residents’ privacy. Certification from this organization is an additional step to show that New Jersey sober living homes operate at the highest standards.
NARR has also consulted with New Jersey lawmakers to continue to improve sober living homes in the state.
How to Find a Sober Living Home in New Jersey
Once you complete detox and rehabilitation at Boca Recovery Center’s Galloway branch, transitioning to a sober home could be a great step to ensure you continue abstinence from drugs and alcohol. This will also allow you to focus on improving your life and health, without worrying as much about triggers or cravings since you will still have ongoing recovery support.
Here are some sober living home options in New Jersey, which might benefit residents of Galloway:
- Recovery Housing at Stockton University: Students entering college or returning to college may wonder if they can find campus residences that support sobriety, and fortunately, there are some available. Stockton University has developed Recovery Housing on campus for students, who can sign up for 9 months or 12 months. The college has also not marked the location on campus to respect residents’ privacy during recovery.
- NJARR Certified Residences: New Jersey’s new sober home laws provide a lot of support for high-quality living and care. Finding a residence certified by NJARR can ensure you get an added layer of safety and support.
- New Jersey 211: You can either check their website or call 211 in New Jersey for an up-to-date list of sober homes.
- Homepage. National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARRonline.org).
- A Clean and Sober Place to Live: Philosophy, Structure, and Purported Therapeutic Factors in Sober Living Houses. (June 2008). Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.
- Principles of Effective Treatment. (January 2018). National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
- Types of Treatment Programs. (January 2018). National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
- Sober Living Houses for Alcohol and Drug Dependence: 18-Month Outcomes. (June 2011). Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.
- In New Jersey, Regulating Sober Living Challenges Lawmakers, Homeowners. USA Today.
- New Jersey Alliance of Recovery Residences. National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARRonline.org).
- NARR Code of Ethics. National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARRonline.org).
- New Push to Further Clarify Rules for Addiction Recovery Housing. (October 2019). NJ Spotlight.