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What is sober living in addiction recovery?

Written by Brandon Okey. Mina Draskovic, B.Psy., reviewed this content for accuracy.

Sober living is a commitment to maintain sobriety and create a life free from the influences of addictive substances. It’s part of a recovery journey from drug or alcohol abuse or addiction. Sober living homes, also known as sober living houses or facilities, are residential environments where people in recovery can find support. 

Sober living houses “use a peer-oriented, social model approach that emphasizes mutual support, financial self-sufficiency, and resident involvement in decision making and management of the facility.” (Wittman, F.D.)

In 2008, researchers at the Emeryville Public Health Institute followed 300 people in 20 sober living homes for 18 months. They found that after just six months, residents showed significant improvements in addiction recovery, mental health, employment, and fewer run-ins with the law.

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If you’re struggling with addiction, our addiction treatment facility provides the support and tools you need to overcome substance use disorder (SUD) and build a strong foundation for lasting recovery. After treatment, you can continue to develop the skills and relationships necessary for a healthy life in one of our sober living homes.

Check out our comprehensive addiction treatment center and detox programs.

Who is sober living for?

Sober living is for anyone who is in recovery from substance abuse and addiction. A sober living environment may benefit:

  • People in early recovery. Those who have recently completed a rehabilitation program and need a stable environment to transition back to independent living. 
  • Disabled persons. People with physical or mental disabilities who require additional support and resources to maintain sobriety.
  • Young adults. Teens and young adults who need guidance and a sober peer group to help navigate the challenges of early adulthood without substances. Many sober homes for young adults emphasize 12-step groups and peer support to help them build a strong recovery foundation.
  • Veterans.Military veterans who may struggle with addiction and benefit from a structured, supportive community.
  • Professionals. People who need a stable, substance-free living environment to support their career and personal growth.

What are the benefits of sober living?

Sober living has many benefits for people in recovery from addiction. Here are some of the key advantages of sober residences: 

  1. Structure and accountability
  2. Developing life skills necessary for long-term sobriety
  3. Supportive community
  4. Transition to independence
  5. Reduced risk of relapse
  6. Improved mental and physical health

Structure and accountability

Sober living homes provide a structured environment with clear rules and expectations. These include regular drug testing and participation in house meetings. This level of accountability helps residents stay on track with their recovery goals and maintain their commitment to sobriety. 

Developing life skills

Sober living homes help residents develop essential life skills crucial for long-term success in recovery. This includes learning to manage finances, developing healthy coping mechanisms, and building effective communication skills. These practices allow residents to prepare for the challenges of everyday life outside of the sober living home.

Supportive community

One of the most significant benefits of sober living is the opportunity to live with others who are also in recovery. The shared experience creates a strong sense of community and understanding, which can be incredibly valuable in navigating the challenges of early recovery. Residents can offer each other support, encouragement, and advice, fostering a sense of belonging and reducing feelings of isolation.

Transition to independence

Sober living serves as a bridge between the intensive support of rehab and the independence of everyday life. It allows people in recovery to gradually reintegrate into society while still receiving support and guidance. This transitional period helps them build a strong foundation and develop the skills necessary to maintain sobriety in the long term.

Reduced risk of relapse

People who participate in sober living programs have a lower risk of relapse than those who do not. The combination of structure, support, and accountability provided by sober living homes helps residents stay focused on their recovery goals and reduces the likelihood of falling back into old patterns of substance abuse.

Improved mental and physical health

Substance abuse takes a toll on both mental and physical health. Sober living homes provide a substance-free environment and encourage healthy habits, improving overall well-being. This may include better sleep patterns, improved nutrition, and increased engagement in physical activity. The support and structure of sober living can alleviate symptoms of co-occurring mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression.

The presence of both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder, or dual diagnosis, is common among people who seek sober living. At Ardu Recovery Center, we offer comprehensive treatment for dual diagnosis, addressing both addiction and mental health concerns simultaneously.

Building a strong support network

Sober living homes provide an opportunity to build a strong support network of peers who understand the challenges of recovery. These relationships can extend beyond the walls of the sober living home, providing ongoing support and encouragement even after residents transition to independent living. 

It’s important to have a solid support system for maintaining long-term sobriety and navigating the ups and downs of life in recovery.

At Ardu Recovery Center, our sober living facility nurtures a strong sense of mutual support among residents. When you choose to reside in our sober living homes, you’ll be surrounded by those who share your commitment to sobriety. We offer group activities, regular house meetings, and shared responsibilities that foster a deep sense of belonging, allowing you to forge meaningful, sober relationships that can last a lifetime.

How does sober living work?

Sober living homes offer a safe, structured, and substance-free environment that promotes long-term sobriety and personal growth. Here’s how a sober living housing arrangement works:

  1. To be admitted to a sober living home, you typically must have completed an addiction treatment program or be actively engaged in outpatient treatment. You must also commit to maintaining sobriety and following the rules of the sober living home.
  2. Sober living homes are entirely substance-free: no alcohol, drugs, or other addictive substances are allowed on the premises. 
  3. Each sober living home has its own set of rules that residents must follow. Common rules include: 
    • No possession or use of alcohol or drugs
    • Regular drug testing 
    • Participation in house meetings and activities
    • Adherence to curfews and visitor policies
    • Completion of assigned chores and responsibilities
    • Respect for other residents and their property
    • Pursuit of employment, education, or volunteer work
  1. Residents are typically required to pay rent and contribute to household expenses. 
  2. Residents are encouraged to share their experiences, offer encouragement, and hold each other accountable. 
  3. Residents hold regular house meetings to discuss issues, plan activities, and share their progress and challenges.
  4. Residents are expected to adhere to the rules, maintain their sobriety, and make progress in their personal and professional lives—all of which provide and teach accountability.
  5. Sober living homes help residents develop essential life skills, such as cooking, cleaning, budgeting, and time management.
  6. Many sober living homes encourage or require residents to actively participate in 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, and to participate in ongoing therapy or counseling.

Sober living serves as a transitional step between rehab and fully independent living. Residents can stay in a sober living home for several months or even years, depending on their individual needs and progress. 

If you or a loved one is seeking a supportive community to aid in the transition to independent living, our sober living facilities might be the perfect solution. Contact Ardu today. 

Sober living vs. halfway houses

Sober living homes and halfway houses both provide transitional housing for people in recovery, but they are different in terms of structure and focus. Halfway houses, also known as transitional homes, provide a structured living environment for those who are transitioning from a more intensive level of care, such as incarceration or inpatient care, back into society. 

Here are some differences between sober homes and halfway houses:

  • Halfway houses are often government-funded and may be affiliated with the criminal justice system, serving as a transitional step for individuals who have been released from prison or completed a court-ordered treatment program.
  • Sober living homes are typically privately owned and operated, and residents choose to live there voluntarily as part of their ongoing recovery journey.
  • Halfway houses have a more limited stay, often ranging from a few months to a year, depending on the individual’s specific situation and progress.
  • Sober living homes often allow residents to stay for a longer period, sometimes even several years, as long as they continue to follow the house rules and maintain their sobriety.
  • Halfway houses have a higher level of supervision and structure, with staff members on-site to monitor residents’ activities and ensure compliance with rules.
  • Sober living homes offer more autonomy and independence, with residents being responsible for their own daily activities and schedules, while still adhering to house rules.
  • Halfway houses often provide a range of services, such as job training, employment assistance, and case management, to help residents reintegrate into society.
  • Sober living homes typically focus more on providing a supportive living environment and fostering a sense of community among residents, with fewer formal services offered.
  • Residents of halfway houses may be required to live there as part of a court order or as a condition of their release from incarceration.
  • Sober living residents choose to live in the home voluntarily and are not under any legal obligation to do so.

The choice between a sober living home and a halfway house depends on the person’s specific needs, circumstances, and stage of recovery.

What are the challenges of sober living?

People in sober living facilities must navigate new rules, relationships, and responsibilities while maintaining their commitment to sobriety. Here’s why some people can have a hard time adjusting to life in a sober environment:

  1. Residents may struggle with adhering to curfews, participating in mandatory house meetings, or completing assigned house chores.
  2. Some residents may face triggers or cravings in the substance-free environment. 
  3. Residents may struggle with building trust, setting boundaries, or dealing with the diverse personalities and backgrounds of their housemates.
  4. Sober living residents are often expected to pursue employment, education, or volunteer work while also attending support group meetings and fulfilling household obligations. Juggling these responsibilities can be stressful and may require a period of adjustment.
  5. Early recovery can be an emotionally challenging time. Residents may experience intense emotions such as anxiety, depression, or guilt, which can be difficult to manage without the use of substances. As residents prepare to leave the supportive environment of sober homes, they may experience anxiety or uncertainty about their ability to maintain sobriety on their own.

Sober living does have its challenges, but it remains an invaluable tool in the recovery journey. At Ardu Recovery Center, our sober living homes provide a supportive environment, a tight-knit community, and opportunities for personal growth. We help you develop the resilience and coping skills you need to overcome obstacles and build a strong foundation for lasting sobriety. 

How to find the right sober living facility

Choosing a sober living facility is a significant step in your recovery journey. Our sober living program offers the ideal environment and resources to support your long-term success.

When you join our sober living program, you gain access to comprehensive recovery support services tailored to your needs. Our experienced recovery coaches will work with you to develop personalized strategies for coping with triggers, managing stress, and setting achievable goals. We’re here to guide and support you every step of the way.

What sets our sober living facility apart is the strong sense of community among residents. You’ll be living alongside others who share your commitment to sobriety, creating a built-in support system that can provide encouragement and accountability. Through group activities, house meetings, and shared responsibilities, you’ll forge meaningful, sober relationships and develop a true sense of belonging.

We also offer holistic healing options, such as yoga therapy, meditation, and nutritional counseling, to promote overall well-being during your stay. These activities, combined with our medication management services, create a well-rounded approach to your recovery.

The first step in recovery can be the most challenging. That’s why we offer both medical and holistic drug and alcohol detox programs in a safe, medically supervised environment. After detox, we provide both inpatient and outpatient treatment options for drug and alcohol addiction. 

Throughout your stay at our sober living residence, you’ll have access to ongoing support services, such as recovery coaching, group therapy, and holistic healing options. Our goal is to provide you with the tools, resources, and support you need to build a strong foundation for lasting recovery.

To enroll in our sober living program, contact Ardu Recovery Center online or via phone (801-872-8480). Our treatment providers will work with you to find a path to recovery that works for you. Contact our admissions team for additional information.

Brandon Okey

Brandon Okey is the co-founder of Ardu Recovery Center and is dedicated to empowering people on their journey to sobriety.

Sober living FAQ

How long do most people stay in sober living?

There’s no one-size-fits-all timeline for sober living. Some people stay for a few months, while others live in a sober living home for a year or more. It’s common for residents to stay for around 6 to 18 months, which allows them to build a solid foundation in their recovery before transitioning to more independent living situations. The goal is to provide a supportive environment for as long as it’s needed to help residents establish long-term sobriety and a stable, fulfilling life in recovery.

What are examples of sober habits?

Sober habits include attending 12-step meetings, participating in outpatient programs, engaging in therapy sessions, and taking part in recreational activities that don’t involve alcohol or drugs. Residents in sober living homes often share household chores, submit to alcohol screenings and drug screenings, and follow basic rules to maintain a healthy living environment. These habits help individuals in recovery avoid falling back into bad habits and maintain their commitment to a sober life.

What is another name for sober living?

Sober living is also known as recovery housing, supportive housing, or recovery residences. These terms all refer to the concept of providing a safe and structured living environment for individuals in recovery from drug addiction or alcohol dependence. Oxford House is a well-known model of sober living that has been the subject of research on the effectiveness of this approach.

Is it better to live a sober life?

Living a sober life can have a positive impact on a person’s overall quality of life. Sustained sobriety can improve mental health, physical health, relationships, and success in personal and professional endeavors. While the road to recovery may be challenging, the long-term benefits of a sober lifestyle often outweigh the difficulties faced during the recovery process.

What is the sober lifestyle trend?

The sober lifestyle trend refers to an increasing interest in living a life free from alcohol and drugs, even among people who may not have a history of addiction. This trend is driven by a growing awareness of the negative effects of substance use on mental and physical health, as well as a desire to focus on personal growth and well-being. The sober lifestyle trend has led to an increase in sober social events, alcohol-free bars, and online communities supporting those who choose to live sober lives.

What is the meaning of sober living?

Sober living is a lifestyle that involves abstaining from alcohol and drugs while residing in a supportive housing environment, often called sober houses or recovery residences. These homes provide a safe space for people in recovery to focus on their recovery process, attend 12-step meetings, and engage in sober activities. Sober living arrangements serve as a transitional step between residential treatment programs and fully independent housing.


Polcin DL, Henderson DM. A clean and sober place to live: philosophy, structure, and purported therapeutic factors in sober living houses. J Psychoactive Drugs. 2008 Jun;40(2):153-9. doi: 10.1080/02791072.2008.10400625. PMID: 18720664; PMCID: PMC2556949.

Wittman FD, Polcin D. The Evolution of Peer Run Sober Housing as a Recovery Resource for California Communities. Int J Self Help Self Care. 2014;8(2):157-187. doi: 10.2190/SH.8.2.c. PMID: 25477748; PMCID: PMC4248351.

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