Finally being discharged from substance abuse treatment can be one of the most strenuous times in an individual’s recovery. They have to learn how to navigate the stresses and pressures of daily life without the aid of drugs or alcohol and they have to do so without the same level of support they have grown accustomed to while in inpatient treatment. They have to face the pressures of finding employment, 12 Step Meetings to attend, new sober friends they can relate to, and most of all they have to face the pressure of finding a suitable and safe place to live.
Luckily for many in the recovery community, there are a plethora of sober housing options available in the communities surrounding their treatment center that can help them learn to cope with life in the months immediately after their release from treatment. These housing options are usually referred to as a halfway house or three-quarter house and they consist of individuals who are in early recovery living together, under the watchful eye of a house manager. They offer a structured living environment where the newly sober individual can be surrounded by recovery, all while making new friends and getting acquainted with the recovery community in the area.
For many, staying in a halfway house is a Godsend because the rent is usually reasonable, and the support received is priceless. Unfortunately, though, there have been a number of morally unscrupulous halfway house owners, especially in the South Florida area, who have used predatory practices in order to run the halfway houses they owned, at the expense of people’s safety, security, and well-being. A great deal of these houses have been shut down or are in the process of being investigated as we speak, but with that said, it is still important to know how to tell a good halfway house from a flophouse.
5 Signs of a Good Halfway House
It has been over 8 years since I left my halfway house and I still have fond memories of my time there. There were two house managers, who were both heavily involved in recovery, and were both tremendously helpful to the men who stayed at their house. At any given time of the day, you could hear people discussing the Steps or God, or some other recovery-related topic and I know that my time there definitely set me up for the sobriety I have had since.
1. People you know have stayed or are staying there
If you are serious about your recovery then more than likely you are hanging out with individuals who are also serious about staying sober. Following the dictates of these individuals can go a long way in finding a good sober home, because if the people in the house are doing the right thing: calling their sponsor, working the Steps, looking for work, then more than likely the halfway house is legitimate and good. On this same note, it is also a good idea to talk to people in your treatment center and in the surrounding recovery community because they will be able to distinguish the good houses vs. the flop-houses for you.
2. The house requires you to go to meetings
The house that I went to required us to go to 5 meetings a week and every Monday we met and had a house meeting where people were kept accountable to that number. If the house that you are thinking of staying in doesn’t make you attend a certain number of meetings, then it is more than likely not the type of place you want to stay in.
3. They DO NOT charge your insurance
If a halfway house operator tells you that you can live there “for free” because they are going to charge your insurance, then run as fast as you can away from that place. It is illegal to charge your insurance for rent, even if you are in IOP. In order to stay in a halfway home, you have to pay the rent yourself. There are some places that will help you out with a week or two until you get on your feet, but that is very different than participating in insurance fraud.
4. The house manager has been sober for a while
If there isn’t an on-site house manager then you more than likely do not want to stay at that house and if the house manager has only been sober for a few months then you may want to look elsewhere. This is not to put anyone down, but managing a sober living house can be difficult and many times the person doing so should have experience in recovery for a significant amount of time.
5. It is NOT co-ed
If you are planning on attending a sober living option after treatment that is co-ed then you are probably setting yourself up for failure. Almost every reputable halfway home is separated by gender and for good reason. Men and women, especially in early recovery, should not be cohabiting because it only leads to distraction and issues.
Hopefully, this helped you better understand what you should look for in a sober living environment after treatment. Remember if what they are offering you is too good to be true, then it probably is. There is no getting around paying rent in life. Ask around in your local recovery community and they will be able to help guide you to a great sober living option.