What to Expect Living in a Sober Home

What to Expect Living in a Sober Home

By In Addiction Recovery
Posted July 26, 2017

A sober home, also called a sober living home (SLH), is a structured drug and alcohol-free environment, typically for people new to sobriety.

In most cases, sober living homes serve as a transition between treatment and a return to the real world. Some people may also use sober homes as an alternative to formal treatment.

In this article, we’ll discuss what you can expect from life in a sober home, so you can decide if this type of facility is the right fit for you.

Sober Home Cost

The cost of living in a sober home varies widely. Generally, you can expect rent to cost roughly the same as rent in a modest apartment, somewhere in the neighborhood of $400-$800 per month.

Residents typically aren’t required to pay utilities, and food is often included. Many sober homes receive donations such as toiletries from neighborhood charities, churches, and other organizations.

All of these factors can cut costs. Still, it’s important to check the policies specific to any SLH you’re considering. Ask if utilities and food are included, or if you’ll be expected to cover these costs.

Other expenses may include paying for drug tests or paying fines for breaking rules. Again, costs can vary, so you’ll want to get the specifics from each individual sober home.

Sober Home Living Conditions

The type and condition of the building you’ll live in also varies, but there are some factors that generally remain the same.

For example, the SLH will likely be all female or all male.

You’ll likely share a bedroom, and bathrooms will be shared as well. You can ask for specifics regarding the number of people you’ll be expected to share with.

Maintaining the cleanliness of the house is typically the responsibility of the residents. Residents are expected to do chores, which may change weekly or monthly according to a schedule.

Pink feather duster with two cleaning supplies below it.

Preparing food for the house may also be the responsibility of the residents. In some SLH, a large supply of food is kept in the home. Residents prepare breakfast and lunch on their own, and they take turns cooking dinner for the house.

Sober Home Community

Sober homes also provide a sense of community with other recovering addicts. Chores, communal meals, house meetings, and support groups help foster an almost familial atmosphere within the home.

Most homes also schedule regular activities like arts and crafts, community service projects, outdoor recreation, and more.


Sober living homes provide residents with a highly structured environment, which is an important component in recovery from addiction.

As part of this structure, residents must follow rules. Breaking the rules can result in fines, loss of privileges, or expulsion from the home.

Of course, the number one rule in a sober home is abstaining from all drugs and alcohol. You will likely be regularly drug tested and/or breathalyzed.

Most quality SLH have a zero-tolerance policy for drug and alcohol use. An environment where relapse is a pattern and residents are using is not conducive to recovery.

Most sober homes will also require that residents enroll in school or gain employment. The staff will likely help you secure employment or point you toward helpful resources.

We're hiring written in capital letters on a chalk board.

Typically, you’ll be required to attend a set number of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings each week, in addition to mandatory house meetings. Other rules may include:

  • A minimum stay requirement, usually 90 days
  • Curfew
  • No fraternizing with the opposite sex.
  • Rules against violence, stealing, and destroying property
  • Obtain and maintain a sponsor.
  • Sleep in the house each night unless preapproved by staff.
  • No overnight guests.
  • Complete all chores and maintain cleanliness of your room.

When these rules are consistently followed, you can usually earn privileges like group outings, personal outings, extra family visits, etc.

As much as you may dislike such stringent rules, remember that the rules are designed to help you maintain sobriety while still having a degree of independence. Sober homes want to ensure that you’re involved in positive activities and continuing to actively work on your recovery.

In general, you can expect sober homes to give you a safe, secure, and substance-free environment. You’ll get the resources, support, community, and structure you need to continue on your path to recovery.

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