halfway house

What Is a Halfway House?

Achieving sobriety is only part of the victory of getting your life back again after addiction. Maintaining it is the other part, and support is needed to help people in recovery bridge the gap between where they once were to where they want to be.

Fortunately, there are several housing arrangements that allow them to pursue their path to sober living. Below is guidance on halfway houses, including tips for choosing the right halfway house for you or your loved one.

What Is a Halfway House?

Halfway houses are transitional living residences that offer a stable, structured setting that promotes sobriety and independent living. People who seek this arrangement, whether through a court order or on their own, do so because it gives them the time and space they need to relearn the skills they need before rejoining society.

There are different halfway houses for different populations. Some people enter this living arrangement after completing time in prison or upon leaving a situation in which they were homeless or temporarily displaced. Halfway homes also accommodate people with various disabilities, and some are designed to help newly sober people live in an alcohol- and drug-free setting as they regain their independence.

According to the site HalfwayHouse.com, some states are legally required to call a halfway house a “sober living house,” so the terms often are used interchangeably. However, one main difference between a halfway house and sober living house is that halfway houses require their residences to either have completed a rehab program or be actively enrolled in one. Another difference between the two is that halfway houses typically limit residents’ stay time in the facility.

Halfway Houses for Addiction Recovery

Recovering addicts and alcoholics who live in halfway homes may be there anywhere from one to six months, and some live there for a year. During the time in the house, residents are required to participate in recovery support, such as 12-step meetings, and find employment and hold a steady job; some residents may also be in pursuing their education.

Graduates of inpatient programs are encouraged to move into a transitional living facility—such as a halfway house—while completing a form of outpatient care such a partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient program.

Structured Setting Is Major Benefit

Transitional housing residents benefit from having a monitored, stable, structured, substance-free environment in which to live. Many people choose to make a new start in a halfway house because the arrangement offers more freedom than a traditional rehab but more structure than if they were living on their own. Research has shown recovery that offers transitional living services have helped residents improve in certain areas, such as reducing substance use and maintaining employment.

Accountability is also important in this setting.

Halfway house residences set up for people in addiction recovery are usually managed by staff members who enforce firm rules, which residents must agree to follow if they are accepted into the house. In most cases, residents are required to pay rent, contribute to maintaining the home and keeping it clean, and abide by set curfews.

They also may have to agree to random drug testing that is conducted to ensure the environment is free of substances and substance abusers.  All residents may be required to pass a breathalyzer test as well as drug screenings before they can move in.

If residents don’t keep up with their rent, do their chores, abide by the curfew, pass the regular random drug and alcohol screens, and fulfill any other obligations, they could receive warnings before being evicted from the halfway house.

It is important to note that halfway houses don’t offer addiction treatment; they also don’t offer medical care for withdrawal symptoms from drugs or alcohol use. This is one reason residents are typically required to have already undergone addiction treatment and prove this is the case before they can move in.

The zero-tolerance policy that many of these transitional facilities have when it comes to breaking their rules puts recovering addicts—particularly those without insurance or other ways of paying for a place to live—at risk of homelessness.


Halfway housing is designed to be affordable for the people living in the shared space. Costs are normally not more expensive than average housing costs. Rent estimates run from $100 to $300 a month to $2,000 a month. It depends on where the center is located (certain states like California, are more expensive) and what amenities are available, if any.

According to AddictionBlog.org, residents pay rent plus utilities in addition to other costs that they may need to pay. Everyone in the house pays their share to cover the costs of running the home.

Check with the facility to find out if it accepts other forms of payment, such as insurance, scholarships or a payment plan.

How to Choose a Halfway House

It’s important you research your options before committing to a stay in a halfway house. Remember to think about things that can make life easier while staying in the facility, such as if it’s near potential places to work or transit, such as the metro or bus line. Facilities that are near or health clinics or hospitals are also ideal.

Consider the addiction first. Many substance abuse halfway houses can address the unique needs of both recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. But, before deciding on a facility, you may want to weigh whether you prefer one that specializes in helping people in recovery from one over the other. Perhaps people in recovery from alcohol dependence will feel more comfortable living with fellow residents who are facing similar struggles with alcohol; same idea with people who are in recovery from drug addiction wanting to connect with others who are in recovery from drug addiction.

Ask a trusted source for recommendations. If you want to find a halfway house but aren’t sure where to start, you can ask your physician or mental health care professional, such as a therapist, to help you launch your search. Health care professionals may be able to offer guidance on facilities based on the feedback they have received from their patients, clients, or other people they know. You can also ask people who attend recovery meetings or your treatment center as well.

Read reviews. Check out sites online that have reviews written by people who have either lived at the halfway homes you’re interested in or people who have some insight about them.

Positive Signs You’ve Found the Right Halfway House

Before choosing a halfway house, check to see if the facility:

  • Is located near the sites where 12-step meetings are held or that it has proper access to the meetings
  • Offers 12-step meetings on-site.
  • Requires daily attendance to 12-step and other recovery group meetings
  • Requires residents to obtain a sponsor and finding a home group to attend shortly after entering the house
  • Requires residents to have a job or actively conduct a job search. Employment at places where substances are used, such as bars and clubs, are discouraged.
  • Conducts random alcohol and drug tests regularly

If you have questions, consider reaching out to the National Alliance for Recovery Residences or the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities for further guidance.

Call Drug Treatment Center Finder Today for a Free Consultation

If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction and would like a free consultation, call Drug Treatment Center Finder now at 855-619-9070. Our recovery specialists can match you to the rehab that can best address your recovery needs. Take the first step toward a new life of happiness, health, and sobriety.