So, you or a loved one is ready to take the plunge into sober living. Sober living homes offer many benefits to recovering addicts and are a tried-and-true method of reintegration after rehabilitation. That being said, all sober living homes are not created equal. There are different levels of homes that offer different amounts of structure and care to residents. Additionally, even within a given level of the home, there is significant variance in the quality of the residence and the services offered. In this article, we will outline what sober living is, some of the benefits of a sober living environment, and we will answer the question: ‘how much do sober living homes cost?’
What Is a Sober Living Home?
Sober living homes are organized, structured communal residences that house multiple individuals who are looking to maintain abstinence from drugs and alcohol. Most residents of sober living homes are transitioning out of inpatient rehabilitation and are looking to return to a normal drug and alcohol-free life. While most sober living homes do not require that residents be recently released from a rehab facility, they do require that the detoxification phase has been completed and by nature, they tend to house mostly post-rehab individuals. The main requirement is that residents have reached at least 30 days of sobriety, but each case is looked at individually and uniquely.
By living with other recovering addicts fighting to maintain their own sobriety, residents of sober living homes find that strong sober living community is at the core of their recovery. In addition to providing this camaraderie, structure and strict rules are pillars of the sober living model. No-tolerance policies when it comes to drug and alcohol use are often in place, and sobriety testing is not uncommon to ensure this mandate. Additionally, participation in recovery programs is often suggested or required. Sober living housing provides recovering addicts an opportunity to get one foot wet in their transition back to normal life, while still participating in treatment and active recovery.
Benefits of Sober Living
There are many benefits of sober living, and it is important to understand these when thinking about what you are paying for. This section will outline some of the main pros of sober living homes and give you a clearer picture of what sober living entails.
Many recovered addicts who have been through sober living homes cite strong community and close household bonds as the most important aspect of their recovery. Interestingly, this benefit is one that comes free to residents and is intrinsic to the sober living model. Conversely, some homes require participation in home meetings, sobriety groups, or 12-step programs. These tools help to strengthen camaraderie among housemates as well as provide individuals with the support and recognition they need in their struggle with addiction.
Friendship is important, but so is discipline. Sober living homes vary in terms of their requirements for residents, but all encourage active engagement in the recovery process while in the household. Participation in recovery groups and 12-step programs are commonplace, as are random drug tests and a zero-tolerance policy for relapse. Some homes require residents to hold at least a part-time job, and most organize household duties and chores to keep everyone involved. While mandated recovery plans are important, learning to live communally and perform small household tasks like cooking and cleaning are also very elemental to reintegrating back to a normal life.
Strong structure requires strong leadership. Different levels of sober living homes offer different methods of leadership, but all utilize some sort of governance to enforce house rules and ensure that all members of the household are doing as well as possible. In some sober living homes, live-in house organizers provide around-the-clock care for the household. In others, leaders are simply senior members of the household who have been elected to have a stronger say in house decisions and to help organize and enforce rules in the house.
Many homes employ a ‘seniority rules’ model to delegate leadership and other roles in the home. In these houses, residents enter the home ‘at the bottom of the totem pole’ and must work their way up by adhering to house rules, maintaining their sobriety, and performing tasks and chores. Of course, there is a healthy degree of hazing at play here, and new members are certainly subject to having more unpleasant duties than senior residents. That being said, the luxuries of seniority in this model do bring more responsibility, as more senior housemates are often liable for organizing meetings and delegating duties. Regardless of the specific governance model, strong leadership is an elemental part of sober living and helps ensure that all the other benefits come into play in a healthy way for residents.
How Much Do Sober Living Homes Cost?
In order to answer this question, it is necessary to have an understanding of the different types of homes available. Not all living homes are created equal, and they certainly have different costs associated with them. As a general rule, the more involved level of care you require for your recovery, the more it will cost.
Level 1 Homes
There are three main levels of sober living homes. Of the three, level one homes offer the least amount of oversight and overall the least structure. Level one homes follow the Oxford House model. Oxford Houses are a housing model introduced in 1975 that are still in use today. The defining characteristic of an Oxford House is the governance model. Decisions are made by way of a direct democracy in which each household member’s vote counts equally. Residents may vote on matters such as when and how often to mandate sobriety group meetings, who has to do what chores, and whether to allow a new member into the house.
Many Level one homes require residents to participate in some sort of active recovery, be it outpatient counseling, a 12-step program, or otherwise. That being said, level one homes do not tend to offer any of these services onsite.
The cost of a level one home is rent, plus utilities and any other household expenses, divided by the number of housemates. Sometimes, a small association fee may be required to maintain membership in an affiliate network. Additionally, if any programs or counseling are required, they will not usually be included in the cost of rent.
Level 2 Homes
The primary difference between level one and level two homes is the system of governance. While level one homes employ a direct democracy to come to decisions, level two homes tend to elect a supervisor who delegates tasks and makes decisions on the home’s behalf. Additionally, the supervisor is responsible for making sure that all residents comply with house rules, pass their sobriety tests, and stay out of trouble. Residents are required to abide by a curfew and perform their chores in a timely manner.
Level two homes don’t have recovery options on-site, but strict requirements for attending recovery groups and/or sticking to an aftercare plan with a counselor are usually in place. In addition, frequent sobriety testing is often utilized to ensure that household members are all sticking to the main task at hand: staying clean and sober. Level one homes, on the other hand, may require sporadic testing or may not utilize drug testing at all.
When considering the cost of a level two home, one must take into account all living expenses including rent, utilities, and other household costs. Then, fees for the services of a supervisor as well as those for drug and alcohol testing must be added. Additionally, a small fee for maintaining a local network membership may be tacked on. Since level two homes require residents to take part in active recovery outside the home on a regular basis, an individual should be prepared to cover these costs as well. For these reasons, level two homes tend to be slightly more expensive than level one homes that are otherwise equivalent (same neighborhood, household amenities, etc.)
Level 3 Homes
Level three sober living homes are the most structured and strict environments available to recovering addicts aside from inpatient rehabilitation centers. They incorporate aspects of clinical treatment on-site. While the goal of maintaining sobriety is consistent with level one and two homes, the programs in level three homes are more structured. These homes usually include paid staff who assist patients in maintaining their sobriety. Some of these staff may be counselors, allowing actual treatment to take place on-site; however, most treatment still happens out of the home.
These homes are not self-governed like lower level homes. Staff oversees the household and ensures that residents comply with all rules and guidelines. They also resolve any disputes among housemates and choose who to allow into the home. These staff members oversee on-site drug testing and are often qualified to administer medications.
Level three homes are considerably more expensive than lower level homes because residents are responsible for covering the cost of on-site staff. However, they are considerably less expensive than inpatient rehabilitation centers, so alcohol and drug addicts who are transitioning out of full-time recovery should still see a reduction in living expenses.
So, How Much does it actually cost?
This is a difficult question to answer because sober living homes vary in cost for all the reasons described above. Additionally, these houses are usually in residential neighborhoods and the cost of rent will mostly reflect the local housing market. That being said, a room in a sober living home is typically between 450 and 750 dollars per month, without fees added. However, depending on the location, structure, and services, the cost of sober living can be in the thousands. Fees vary greatly depending on the level of the home and the specific services provided. Health insurance rarely covers rent and household costs in a sober living home, but they may include other costs associated such as mandatory clinical treatment. Read “Is Sober Living Covered by Insurance?” to learn more about insurance coverage for your sober living housing.
When considering the cost of a sober living home, it may be wise to consider the opportunity cost. In other words, how much would it cost you to not join a sober living house? In the immediate future, the answer could be hundreds of dollars per month for renting your own apartment, which can actually be more expensive than a sober living house in a given area. Down the road, consider that without the support and structure offered by sober living homes, relapse is a real possibility. The financial cost of returning to an inpatient rehab center is daunting, but it pales in comparison to the possible emotional and physical toll that this tragedy can take on yourself and your loved ones. When looked at through this lens, sober living homes might seem like a much more economical option than you previously thought. Furthermore, friends and family may be eager to chip in when they hear you are considering sober living, as these models have proven time and time again to be effective in aiding long-term recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
While there is no concrete answer for how much a sober living home will cost, considering these factors can help you decide on a home that is right for you and your financial situation. Feel free to contact Haven House with any question and/or concerns you may have about sober living housing. We are here to help you along your journey of long-term sobriety.