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Halfway Houses

Halfway houses offer a safe and drug-free environment for individuals in recovery to maintain sobriety. While residing here, residents receive extra treatment services, such as attending support groups and learning essential life skills to prepare for their future. Halfway houses are government-funded and serve as transitional housing for those who have finished their drug and alcohol treatment programs.

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What Is a Halfway House?

Halfway houses provide people in recovery with an alcohol and drug-free environment to continue to focus on their early sobriety.

During their stay, residents will participate in community-based treatment services, including mental health services like therapy, support groups, and life skills training.

Notably, halfway houses do NOT include any detox program. Detox occurs in addiction treatment before being ready for any transitional housing.

Different Types of Transitional Housing in Recovery

There are various options to consider when looking for a drug-free living environment. However, there are significant differences between halfway houses, sober homes, and rehab centers.

Selecting the right option for yourself or a loved one will come down to the specific treatment options you may need and the stage of addiction recovery.

Halfway Houses

A halfway house is a sober living facility intended to be a transitional environment for recovering addicts. Unlike rehab, halfway houses provide structure and support without ongoing addiction treatment.

Residents of halfway houses will likely be required to attend therapy or 12-step program meetings as part of the house requirements, but halfway houses themselves do not provide addiction treatment.

Instead, they serve as a safe, drug-free environment where recovering addicts can continue to work on their early sobriety.

Halfway houses have a maximum residency of 12 months, which is different from the time limit for sober homes.

The government funds halfway houses and offers less privacy but more structure than alternative sober living communities.

Sober Living Homes

Sober living houses, or recovery homes, are somewhat different from halfway houses. First, sober living homes are privately owned and can be run by businesses, religious groups, or private individuals, while halfway homes are government-funded.

Second, sober living provides a more private experience. Halfway houses offer a dorm-like setting, while sober homes are in quiet residential areas and focus more on independent living.

Sober living environments also tend to be less strict than halfway houses, and residents of a sober living facility can come and go.

Finally, rehab is not a prerequisite requirement to sign up for a sober home, but residents of halfway houses must have completed rehab before their stay.

Drug Rehab Centers

Unlike halfway houses or sober living homes, drug rehab provides active, on-site treatment for substance use disorders from the earliest stages of addiction treatment.

Rehab programs are also available at different levels, from inpatient treatment to a few outpatient recovery programs.

Inpatient treatment centers are residential facilities and allow recovering addicts to live at the center for 30-90 days. Inpatient rehab does not allow patients to leave until their program is complete.

Outpatient substance abuse treatment comes in a few different tiers, and some individuals attending outpatient treatment may also seek some form of recovery housing, such as a sober home.

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What Does Living in a Halfway House Involve?

Living in a halfway house will provide you or your loved one with a safe, drug-free (and alcohol-free) environment. At a halfway house, you will continue working on your early recovery while enjoying the peer support of your fellow recovering housemates.

Some halfway house rules will be relatively universal, such as requiring clean breathalyzers and drug tests to remain living there. Other regulations or details will vary based on the individual house, such as specific curfew times or alcohol/drug testing frequency.

Halfway House Requirements for Residents

To be accepted for residency at a halfway house, there are specific universal requirements that a person will need to meet. You’ll also want to check with the individual halfway house ahead of time to see if there are any resident requirements specific to that facility.

The general residency requirements for admission to a halfway house include:

  • Completion of inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment program
  • The applicant is self-sufficient in hygiene and basic needs
  • Clear drug test; no signs of recent drug abuse or alcohol abuse

What Is the Average Length of Stay at a Halfway House?

A typical participant will live at a halfway house for 3-12 months, with a maximum time limit of 12 months allowed for average residents. Federal prisoners are usually only approved for 12 months, but there is no limit to how long a federal prisoner may be placed in a halfway home.

If you or your loved one feels the need to continue living in a sober community environment after your stay at a halfway home, look into sober living houses.

What to Expect in a Halfway House

Halfway houses are less disciplined than inpatient rehab centers but slightly more regulated than sober homes. House rules are also specific to each halfway home.

Halfway homes are managed by licensed drug counselors, therapists, and similar healthcare personnel. Daily life is structured around group therapy or individual counseling sessions, support groups, and other aftercare programs.

Residents can leave to attend work, family obligations, religious observation, 12-step meetings, etc. Residents can expect random drug testing or alcohol screening to show that they are still sober.

Typical Rules for a Halfway House

Every halfway house will have its own unique rules, but these rules are relatively common among halfway homes.

Typical house rules will include:

  • Involvement in a 12-step program (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) or similar support group
  • No violence or theft
  • No weapons on-premises
  • Adherence to curfew (time will vary per house)
  • Passing alcohol or drug screenings
  • Attending house meetings
  • No overnight guests
  • Contributing to household chores
  • General hygiene and upkeep of personal space

Many halfway houses also require that residents maintain a job or continue actively going to school.

Benefits of Halfway Houses

Living in a halfway house can be a great bridge between finishing your rehab program and returning to your regular life. A halfway house will give you more time to transition, but it also provides a robust support system of sober peers to encourage you.

Some additional benefits of choosing a halfway house are:

  • Affordability: Halfway houses are less expensive than sober houses, and some may also be eligible for insurance coverage.
  • Structure: While not as rigid as a rehab schedule, the daily regimen at a halfway house provides much-needed structure to help recovering addicts stick to good habits.
  • Accountability: Living with peers will help you stay accountable for your sobriety. You’ll pitch in to help with chores around the house, and together, you’ll create an environment based on trust and respect.
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Is a Halfway House Right for Me?

While halfway houses provide an excellent and affordable sober living community, there may be some disadvantages to a halfway home for certain people.

Halfway houses have a maximum limit of 12 months for residency, and for someone looking to establish a long-term sober living environment, a halfway house may not be ideal.

Halfway homes have fewer amenities than sober homes. Although halfway homes may be ideal for some individuals because they offer fewer distractions, some may want more amenities to help them focus on their post-rehab habits.

Halfway houses are also much less restrictive than residential rehab. Some recovering addicts may struggle with too much freedom and need more of a residential rehab center’s structure.

Court-Ordered Halfway Houses

Some halfway house residents might be there because the court has required it as part of a sentence. Halfway houses designated for convicted criminals are sometimes called Community Corrections Centers or Community Correctional Centers.

While halfway houses assist recovering addicts, former correctional facility inmates may come to live at a halfway house after finishing a prison sentence to help them with their reentry into regular society.

In both cases, the halfway house provides a structure for its residents. Halfway House staff helps recovering addicts and former inmates reintegrate into society while living in a controlled environment.

The NIMBY Effect (“Not In My Back Yard”)

Unfortunately, halfway houses sometimes earn a bad reputation. They are usually located in residential areas, and neighbors and businesses occasionally oppose the idea of the halfway house being in their community.

Communities’ typical concerns about halfway houses usually stem from a fear of disruptive behavior, lowered property values, excess noise, or additional traffic. However, research shows that halfway houses do not disrupt their communities and have little impact.

How Effective Are Halfway Houses?

According to research published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, halfway houses and sober homes are highly effective in the ongoing treatment of substance use disorder.

Halfway homes and sober houses have high retention rates, and the individuals who commit to 90 days or more are much more likely to remain sober both at the halfway house and for months afterward.

Cost of Halfway Houses

Halfway houses tend to cost less than sober living houses, but the overall cost can vary depending on location, amenities, etc. You can expect to spend anywhere between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars at a halfway home.

Does Insurance Cover Halfway Houses?

The good news is that because halfway houses are government-funded, many insurance companies (especially Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act) will cover the cost of your stay.

You should check with your insurance carrier to see what coverage they offer for a stay at a halfway home.

Find Out About Halfway Houses Near You

Use the SAMHSA program locator to find halfway houses in your area, or click here to learn more about treatment options.

You can also speak with your doctor or healthcare professional for referrals to nearby addiction treatment providers and support services for addiction treatment.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Halfway Houses

Are halfway houses just for criminals?

Not at all! While halfway houses are utilized in the criminal justice system, they are not only for former prisoners.

Halfway houses are also an excellent “in-between” living situation for individuals with substance use disorder as they complete addiction treatment but aren’t quite ready to fully reintegrate into the community.

What is the difference between sober homes and halfway houses?

Halfway houses are government-funded programs for former criminals and recovering addicts. While similar in design, sober homes are privately owned organizations.

Halfway houses are usually residential settings that resemble dormitories. On the other hand, Sober homes offer more privacy to the people staying there.

Who can live in a halfway house?

Halfway houses are transitional living spaces for sober individuals who have either completed an addiction treatment program or finished serving time in prison.

While it isn’t common for a newly sober person to live at a halfway house, it isn’t impossible. Someone committed to sobriety can check their local halfway house about any specific recovery milestones that might be recommended before residency.

Why is it called a halfway house?

We use the term “halfway house” because it describes the transitional nature of this kind of sober living environment. Halfway houses are like “halfway points” between some kind of rehabilitation program and regular, day-to-day living.

For instance, someone who has completed a substance abuse rehab program may benefit from a sober living situation with structure and drug-free peers before fully jumping back into “regular” life, so a halfway house can offer them an excellent transition experience.

What services do halfway houses provide for residents?

Besides being a drug-free living situation, halfway houses can also provide residents with the following:

  • Life skills training
  • Job placement
  • Support group meetings

How long can someone stay in a halfway house?

For the most part, residents live at a halfway house for about 3 months to a year. This will vary based on the individual’s needs and unique circumstances.

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

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  2. Pirius, R. (2022, June 3). When Is a Prisoner Released to A Halfway House?.
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  4. Polcin, D. L., Korcha, R., Bond, J., & Galloway, G. (2010, December). What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go from Here?. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.
  5. Rash, C. J., Alessi, S. M., & Petry, N. M. (2017, January). Substance Abuse Treatment Patients in Housing Programs Respond to Contingency Management Interventions. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.
  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018a, January 17). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). National Institutes of Health.
  7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018b, January 17). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). National Institutes of Health.

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