Halfway houses can make or break someone’s recovery when they’ve been kicked out, rejected and abandoned.
What is a Halfway House?
A halfway house can be confused with a sober living house because the terms are used interchangeably. Due to the specific laws and regulations of each house, some states require the use of the name “sober living house” instead of “halfway house.” In the past, halfway houses were associated with convicted felons, criminals and those with misdemeanors who needed somewhere to live between their time of incarceration and making their full, independent integration into society. Stereotype and stigma from society created a particularly negative context for halfway houses, which is unfortunate because they can change people’s lives. Halfway houses are still open to those transitioning into society from prison, those mandated by the courts and even those who have been homeless. Today they are open as sober living houses as well, housing recovering addicts and alcoholics who have graduated treatment and are transitioning into social integration.
Are There Requirements For Living In A Halfway House?
Each halfway house will have their own rules and regulations. The specifics of what they need as a requirement can change depending on how they are funded. For example, private funding or halfway houses funded by charitable donation might have different rules from state and county funded programs. Since halfway houses and sober living facilities operate so similarly, sobriety is often a requirement of living in a halfway house. This is part of what makes the opportunity to live in a halfway house so invaluable. Treatment is not a part of halfway house living, though there are plenty of state and county funded treatment centers available throughout the country. Because halfway houses cannot provide treatment, they aren’t equipped to deal with withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the substance and the severity with which the substance might have been abused, it is hard to determine what withdrawal will be like. Individuals struggling with active addiction who are not committed to sobriety or a program of recovery will have difficulty maintaining residence in a halfway house.
Who Runs A Halfway House?
Part of ongoing recovery and transition is growing responsibility. A halfway house’s manager will typically be someone who lived in the house for some time and has demonstrated considerable growth since they were a resident. The manager will typically have to report to a board, an owner or a state system. Sometimes, it is a volunteer position.
Choosing The Right Halfway House For You
If you are entering a non-residential treatment program, you can likely receive warm recommendations from your treatment providers. Probation officers, case managers and other professionals who might be looking after your treatment and progress will have connections. If you are not entering any kind of treatment program and are looking for a residence only, you can usually get a recommendation from a therapist or counselor. When all else fails, attending a local recovery support group meeting and establishing connections there can give you some good suggestions.
How Long Do You Have To Live In A Halfway House?
Your time in a halfway house might be determined by a court sentencing or mandate. Many halfway houses are in high demand and cannot keep people long-term. A residency period of six months to a year is typical.
What To Look For In A Halfway House
- What is their requirement for clean time? It is better to choose a house where residents have at least 30 days of sobriety or more. Living with people who are still experiencing withdrawal symptoms and cravings can be triggering.
- How is the manager chosen? It is important to understand the process for determining management. At some houses the manager might be chosen by a board or the state, while others might be chosen more democratically. Having a voice that matters and bonding with housemates is wonderful, but sometimes these situations can become dramatic and damaging.
- Does the manager live in the house? Having leadership on-site is better than not. Knowing that there is someone with a longer amount of sober time who is trusted in their development is helpful during crisis situations when someone needs to talk.
- Are there chores? Some halfway houses might be cleaned. More likely, the residents will have rotating chores to keep the house clean themselves. Halfway houses can even include meal programs in which the residents cook for the whole house. Halfway houses generally aren’t as luxurious as some sober living houses can be, but meaningful contributions and responsibilities are often helpful in recovery.
- How often are they testing for drugs? There should be regular screenings for drugs and alcohol, including daily breathalyzing.