3 Key Differences Between Halfway Houses and Sober Living Homes

People tend to use the terms “sober living homes” and “halfway houses” interchangeably, but the two can mean very different establishments across the country. While there are no hard rules about what can be called a “sober living home” and what can be called a “halfway house,” there are a few typical distinctions between them.

Knowing how they contrast will help you make the right choice for your teen. Here are three key differences between a halfway house and a sober living home.


window sill with daylight

Image Credit: Olu Eletu

Both homes are designed for people who require a controlled living environment before they transition back into their regular lives. They each help residents who struggle with addiction of some kind, whether it’s alcoholism or substance abuse. In both types of homes, the residents must stay sober.

The main difference is that a sober living home is structured to allow residents some freedom while they adjust from rehab; sober living residents can come and go as they please, although they do have to follow curfew and attend meetings. A halfway house can vary in setup—it can be modeled like a sober living home or it can be a fully regulated treatment center.


Sober living homes are private residences for people struggling with substance addiction, who are usually transitioning out of a rehabilitation facility. People who live in sober living homes are usually there voluntarily.

Halfway homes can house a wider assortment of people: those with mental health issues or who have just been released from prison or suffer from a substance or behavioral addiction. Halfway homes will generally accept people with deeper behavioral or mental problems, or those under court-mandate, like felons and sex offenders. In this case, residents don’t choose to stay in a halfway house.


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Image Credit: jarmoluk

Since sober living homes are private residences, they’re not always covered by government funding. A sober living home can cost as low as a few hundred dollars a month, or it can be set at actual market rental prices. Some of them will accept insurance coverage, so check with your provider. Your teen may also be eligible for a grant.

Halfway houses, on the other hand, act more like government-operated social housing for people who need to reintegrate into society.

When it comes to choosing between a sober living home and a halfway house, there are different factors to take into account. What is right for your teen will depend on the severity of their problems and their willingness to overcome their addiction.

Now that you understand the differences, you can start considering options for your teen’s health.

Feature Image: Brandon Griggs