Close this search box.
Close this search box.

What Are the Rules of a Halfway House?

Halfway houses or sober living homes provide a safe environment for recovering addicts and those in early recovery. For those without a permanent and stable residency while in rehab, halfway houses provide shelter and a positive environment that promotes sobriety. However, these aren’t free-for-all hotels. The rules of halfway houses are sometimes as strict as those from a residential drug rehab facility.

What Are Halfway Houses?

A halfway house is a facility that provides residents with more than a place to live while they work on their sobriety. These homes offer residents the opportunity to access group and individual therapy, psychiatric services, and more. Sometimes known as “sober living houses,” they’re a transitional living facility for those in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. Other names include residential reentry centers, halfway house placement, or correctional facilities.

Some halfway houses require residents to pass a drug screening and breathalyzer test, as they’re not equipped to deal with withdrawal symptoms or delirium tremens. These facilities are ideal for those who’ve gone through a medical detox and, most likely, an inpatient or outpatient treatment program. 

The length of stay varies tremendously, but most people stay anywhere between three to twelve months. The length of stay gives them enough time to secure a steady job and feel confident in their sobriety. 

Are Sober Living Homes the Same?

While in theory, they are the same; a sober living home is usually a private facility that can be fancier than a halfway house. Residents are all going through a similar process, and the staff creates a sense of structure. Unlike rehab, people are free to come and go as they please, but there are still some ground rules in place. Another significant difference is the length of stay, as sober living homes don’t specify a time limit for residence, with some people staying for as much as five years. This is because, unlike government-funded housing, sober living home residents pay specific fees to stay there.

The Most Common Halfway House Rules

Halfway houses have rules just like rehab did; however, these are more flexible because people can come in and out whenever they want to. Still, these follow similar rules to inpatient treatment programs to help maintain that sense of structure. The majority of these programs have rules like:

  • Individuals must stay sober. 
  • Everyone must contribute to the house by doing chores. 
  • There’s no fighting or violence tolerated in the house.
  • No stealing or destroying another resident’s property.
  • Everyone must adhere to the curfew. 
  • Everyone must attend either 12-step meetings or another recovery meeting.
  • Those without a job must interview for jobs. 

As you can see, they’re relatively similar to an inpatient program. However, the main difference is the lack of medical and psychiatric staff on site. 

Other Halfway House Rules to Expect

However, each halfway house has a set of rules and regulations. Some sober living facilities are gender-specific; thus, their rules are different. If people are still attending rehab versus those in recovery, they might have to abide by different rules. Here are some other rules to expect:

  • Residents must have a sponsor.
  • Everyone agrees to take random drug and alcohol tests when requested.
  • No visitors without approval by the staff. No overnight guests. 
  • Residents will not loan, lend, buy, or sell anything to another resident.
  • No physical or verbal threats will be tolerated.
  • Any medication must be updated through the Nurse Practitioner and kept in the treatment office.
  • No pets allowed.
  • Residents agree to pay admission fees. 
  • Some halfway houses have a designated time of stay, usually 90 days to 1 year.
  • Residents agree to follow the chain of command for all comments, questions, concerns, medications, and appointment requests.
  • Residents are not allowed in any other bedroom or apartment but their own unless approved by staff.
  • Community service is highly encouraged.
  • Residents cannot fraternize, flirt, or engage in any sexual or intimate relationships, behavior, or language. 
  • Former residents are not permitted on the property without staff permission.
  • If a resident knows someone is breaking the rules, they are to report it to staff. 

Benefits of Halfway Houses

The efficiency of halfway houses for maintaining sobriety is highly debated. However, there are many benefits of not returning home after drug addiction treatment. A sober living facility can be the bridge between rehab and early recovery to prevent relapse. 

  • Drug and alcohol-free. Residents usually sign a contract upon entering a sober house. Relapsing violates the agreement, and tenants are promptly kicked out. Responsible halfway houses will then work to get the resident into a treatment center or detox.
  • Promote accountability and prevent relapse. Through this “sobriety contract,” house meetings, drug tests, breathalyzers, and community support, recovery houses offer accountability that helps those in early-sobriety.
  • Offer structure. Having structure is incredibly beneficial for those transitioning from rehab back to the world. Any responsible sober house will require residents to have a job, are in school, or volunteer. Reliable sober homes also need residents to attend a certain amount of twelve-step meetings and have a sponsor.

What Happens If You Leave a Halfway House?

Unlike leaving treatment against medical advice (AMA), leaving a halfway house can bring significant consequences. For those placed there after being released from prison, halfway home confinement has strict rules. If you run away from a halfway house, this is regarded as an “escape” that could carry the same felony charges as breaking out of prison. Under federal statutes, the convictions for an escape charge can be anywhere between two to five years. Although the length of the sentence can change according to the case.

Getting Help for Long-term Sobriety

For those in early-sobriety, sober living offers accountability, structure, a support network, and general help during a tough time. Our aftercare recovery programs also help you maintain long-term sobriety and continue to work on your recovery even after rehab. We focus on helping you reach your spiritual goals, life skills, career goals and build a sober support network that will push you in your recovery process from drug abuse.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, contact us for help today. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our addiction specialists can help you find the best road to recovery.

Scroll to Top