Sober living homes are an invaluable tool for recovering alcohol and drug addicts that are gaining popularity across the nation. Of course, as an addict transitions from rehabilitation and a full-time treatment program back to normal life, they are not always ready for full financial responsibilities. Insurance plans do provide coverage for mental health treatment, but the answer to whether sober living will be covered is not always so simple. In this article, we will outline what a sober living home is, how to get into one, and what the options are for paying rent and fees. Read on for more!
What is a Sober Living Home?
Sober living homes are communal houses for people recovering from an alcohol and/or drug addiction. While these homes typically tend to be privately owned, some of them may be owned by businesses such as treatment centers, while others are run by charity organizations. Generally, sober homes are located in quiet residential neighborhoods where the living environment is conducive to successful long-term recovery, and essentially, long-term sobriety.
Sober living homes differ from rehabilitation centers in intensity and structure. Generally, rehabilitation centers give residents far less freedom and far more structured recovery time. Unlike alcohol and drug rehab centers, people in a sober living community are typically allowed to live a relatively normal life including going to work and performing daily tasks like grocery shopping and other errands, so long as they follow certain house guidelines and rules. For example, some sober living homes may require residents to adhere to a curfew, participate in random drug testing, and attend regular house meetings.
Many people would refer to sober living homes as a ‘halfway’ point between a full-on rehabilitation facility and complete independence. In fact, the original sober living model was called a ‘halfway house.’ Halfway houses still exist, but they differentiate from sober living homes in that they are governmentally funded and regulated. This may sound like a benefit, but generally, halfway houses provide residents with less than ideal housing situations and are subject to funding cuts and strict governmental regulation. On the other hand, sober living homes have more freedom when it comes to creating a personalized household environment that is conducive to a successful recovery.
Who Can Live in a Sober Living Home?
Typically, residents of sober living homes have recently completed a rehabilitation program and are looking to re-integrate successfully. However, most houses do not hold this as a requirement of applicants. Instead, sober living houses generally require potential residents to, at a minimum, have completed a detoxification program (required to cure any physical addiction) and be entirely committed to staying sober. That being said, since the primary goal of sober living homes is to create an environment that helps residents succeed in their fight for sobriety, it is not uncommon to see homes that turn down applicants who haven’t yet demonstrated their ability to stay sober for a lengthy amount of time.
How Does One Choose A Sober Living Home?
According to the National Alliance for Recovery Residences, or NARR, here are three ‘levels’ of sober living homes. Before even considering how to pay for a sober living residence and whether it will be covered by insurance, an applicant must first figure out which level of home is right for them.
Level 1 Homes
Level 1 sober living homes are the least structured and provide the least discipline and oversight. While there are rules and guidelines for the household, they are simply agreed upon by the house members at the outset. Any decisions that need to be made regarding household structure are made democratically. Included in these types of democratic processes would be the decision on letting a new applicant into the home, which is something to be considered if you are looking for a level 1 sober living house. Still, these are not ordinary communal homes, and a level 1 home may still require members to attend regular 12-step meetings or outpatient counseling. That being said, most level 1 homes do not provide these services in-house. When considering the cost for a level one home, the calculation would be as simple as dividing the total cost of rent, utilities, and any other shared expenses by the number of residents.
Level 2 Homes
The primary difference between level 1 and level 2 sober living homes is the leadership model. In most cases, a leader is elected, and they govern the house and ensure that residents comply with the requirements and rules. The supervisor is usually a senior house member who has proven their capacity to lead the house over a long period of time. This type of structure would be beneficial to those who feel that a level 1 home might put them at risk by providing too lax of an environment. In addition to having a supervisor, level 2 homes have regular mandatory drug tests for all residents. Failure of a drug test would mean being kicked out of the house. When considering the cost for a level 2 home, one should factor not only rent and typical household expenses, but also fees for a supervisor and drug testing.
Level 3 Homes
Level 3 homes are the most structured and strict environment available to recovering addicts without getting into inpatient rehabilitation facilities. Aspects of clinical treatment, such as paid counselors and staff, are offered as part of the price of living in these homes. Strict aftercare plans are required and treatment may take place in or out of the house. Level 3 homes are overseen by professionally trained staff that are paid for their services. While the lack of self-run government has the benefits of stricter enforcement of house rules and a higher level of support, members of level 3 houses have to pay for these services. The cost of a level 3 home includes all the fees of a level 2 home plus the often hefty price of paid onsite staff.
How Does One Find a Sober Living Home?
You now know what a sober living home is, you have determined that you are eligible to be a resident in one, and you even know what level of home you are looking for. Now, how will you go about finding an appropriate sober house? To start, check the database provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. Most of these homes are government-funded, so while it is not a comprehensive list, it is a good place to start. Next, contact third-party networks that have directories of homes in your state. A simple internet search for “sober living house directory in (your state)” will usually yield the results you are looking for.
Once you have some options in your area, look for clear signs and specific certifications that demonstrate the home’s legitimacy. Certification by the National Association of Recovery Residences is generally a sign of a good home that adheres to high standards. Additionally, certifications by regional associations tend to hold homes to fairly strict guidelines. Aside from certifications, use your head when you are interviewing for a potential home. Look for clear guidelines and rules when you are applying, and find homes that are well-established, have been in operation for a long time, and have a good reputation. Take the time to find the right home for you and do not rush into anything.
How To Pay For Sober Living
So, how much do sober living homes cost? Paying for sober living is almost always the responsibility of the tenant. Rent and other household costs such as utilities and any communal groceries or household items are paid for by each resident as they would be in any other communal living situation. In fact, paying one’s own rent is an integral part of the sober living model, as it encourages residents to hold at least a part-time job and in this way helps to reintegrate them back towards a normal life. That being said, there are some cases in which financial assistance may be available to residents of sober living homes. Depending on the structure, services, and location, the cost of sober living can be in the thousands. There are also many cases in which patients can get discounts through sober living. The main takeaway is to remember that the cost of sober living should never hold you back from seeking treatment.
Is Sober Living Covered by Insurance?
The short answer to the above question is: Almost never. In nearly all cases, rent and household costs are the sole responsibility of the tenants. However, there are select cases in which health insurance may cover costs associated with residing in a sober living house. It is always worth checking with your insurance provider to see if they might pay for your sober living home. Usually, this will vary on a case-by-case basis and have a lot to do with the specifics of your recovery history and the exact structure of the home you are looking to join.
Fortunately, rent is only one of the costs associated with sober living. As we have discussed previously, many homes will require residents to take part in drug testing, 12-step programs, and clinical therapy treatments. Since the Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to provide coverage for mental and behavioral health, most substance abuse disorder treatments are covered by insurance. This means that of all the costs associated with sober living, rent and utilities may be the only ones not covered by your insurance company. Great news!
Making Sober Living Affordable
If you are committed on your path towards sobriety and you feel that sober living is the right option for you, making it work financially should not stop you. Aside from possible help from your insurance company, there are many ways to pay for sober living and its associated costs. Furthermore, sober living homes are generally set up in such a way to keep costs low for tenants so they can focus on their sobriety. While prices vary for sober living houses, the average cost for a room is between 450 and 750 dollars per month. Since most homes have upwards of four or five roommates, each room tends to be cheaper than it would be to rent an entire apartment on one’s own. In addition, many sober living homes are subsidized by local or state government or even by charity organizations, keeping the price low and the benefits of sober living high.
If you are still wondering how to pay for sober living, consider the following options:
- Get a part-time or full-time job
Not only will employment help you pay for your sober housing, but it is also a great way to stay engaged and out of trouble. Some sober living houses even require that you hold a job for these reasons.
- Set up a crowdfunding page
If you are simply unable to pay for sober living on your own accord, a crowdfunding page might be a great option. Friends and relatives are often very supportive when it comes to helping with a recovering addict’s sobriety. Furthermore, it can even help an individual feel more motivated to abstain, knowing that their path towards sobriety has the financial support of their loved ones.
- Use savings or a credit card
Of course, burning through savings or accumulating debt are not ideal options. However, in the fragile time after rehabilitation and before full reintegration, it is wise to prioritize your sobriety above financial worries and all else. Your life is at stake and if you feel sober living could be the answer, take action and do what is right for yourself.
Although the cost of sober living housing is a big thing to consider, the investment is in you and your future. Your journey and commitment to staying drug and alcohol-free is the best decision you can make for yourself. If you have any questions or concerns about sober living and/or the services Haven House offers, contact us. We are more than happy to get in touch with you and help in any way that we can.