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What is a Halfway House?

After someone goes through a medical detox and completes either an inpatient or outpatient treatment for their addiction, it’s time to move on to the next step in their recovery. Going straight home after addiction treatment can be a relief, but it’s also very overwhelming. A halfway house can provide a safe environment for those who aren’t ready to go back home or don’t have that option to continue their recovery journey.  

What is a Halfway House Used For?

Sometimes referred to as a sober living house, these are transitional homes for those recovering from drugs or alcohol. To some, this is a temporary step as they go back home. For others, it can be a long-term process as they get themselves back on their feet. On occasions, though, a court order can request that someone moves to a halfway house after treatment. 

Who Can Live There?

Most halfway houses don’t have restrictions as to who can live there. However, as a rule of thumb, most people living there are alumni from some treatment programs. Everyone living in the house must remain sober while living there, and some halfway houses even require residents to pass a drug screening and breathalyzer test.

Differences Between a Sober Living Facility and a Halfway House

Halfway houses and sober living facilities share many similarities. Both provide housing and support for people working on their recovery and sobriety. Besides, both are a critical part of long-term addiction recovery as they can help people integrate back into society by learning independent living skills. However, at the same time, they are very different from each other. 

Halfway House

Halfway houses are often state-funded and provide a space for people coming out of incarceration and who underwent a drug treatment program during their incarceration. Most of these homes have a zero-tolerance approach to drugs and alcohol use. In addition, they usually limit the amount of time people can stay and the number of people living at the house at any given time.

Sober Living Home

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.

What to Know About Halfway Houses

There are approximately 400 halfway houses across the United States. These official transitional housing locations serve over 10,000 offenders recovering from drug abuse and working on their mental health. Many of these residents have been in a substance abuse treatment center and have now moved into a sober house as part of their continuum care program.

Both houses offer a support system, structured living, and a comfortable environment to help recovering addicts start going back to life after drugs and alcohol. They still have to attend 12-step meetings; people still go to group therapy sessions, and some even check in with their therapists or participate in aftercare recovery programs. 


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.

  • A zero-tolerance policy for drugs or alcohol use
  • Residents must contribute to the house by doing chores
  • No violence toward other residents
  • No stealing or destroying the property
  • Maintain attendance of 12-step meetings or other recovery meetings
  • Attend job interviews 

Keep in mind, depending on the house roles walking away from a halfway house can be considered an escape, and you could be charged for this. If you’re in a halfway house under court orders, this could mean you get your sentence back, plus added offenses. This is why it’s important to learn about the rules and regulations before choosing a sober living facility.

Finding the Right Halfway House

Unlike sober living homes, halfway houses are state-funded programs that often carry a long waiting list and require a court order. This is not to say that there aren’t non-profit halfway houses you can get into, but the waiting time can be extensive. 

Many rehab centers will help you connect with a halfway house. Their goal is to help you find the joys of living a sober lifestyle.

At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we have aftercare recovery programs to help you maintain sobriety, especially in the early recovery days. Our therapists can also help you find the right halfway house near you to continue to support your recovery journey.

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