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Information on Halfway Houses

Last updated on: Wednesday, 18 October 2023
  • What You'll Learn

Anyone caught up in a cycle of addiction could benefit from a halfway house. These facilities provide excellent support and make it easier to transition back to society by providing structure. DRS understands how difficult transitioning back to daily life after drug rehab can be. To help make this transition more manageable, you can search halfway houses by state in the menu below, to find a halfway house in your area.

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For example, breathalyzer or drug screenings to ensure sobriety, daily routines, structure, job placement, or finding a place to live. Most halfway houses are managed by former residents and are a step below inpatient treatment and are also used when someone is in an outpatient treatment program.

When helping recovering addicts, they help to bridge their treatment from living in a residential program to living in a world filled with temptations. A halfway house enables an addict to find the support they need to continue their recovery. For example, residents find support in one another through peer support. The structure of a halfway house supports sober living and building structure and routine. Also, you are able to work, go to school, and attend support meetings along the way. Some of the general rules of a halfway house are to find a job, stay clean and sober, do daily chores, do curfew, and attend recovery meetings.

However, it is important to consider if a halfway house is the right option for you and is a good choice for your recovery. According to the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, lack of a stable, alcohol, and drug-free living environment can be a serious obstacle to sustained abstinence. A destructive living environment derails recovery for even highly motivated individuals. Halfway houses, sober living homes, or any form of transitional housing are alcohol and drug-free living environments for individuals attempting to abstain from alcohol and drugs.

Within the study, the researchers found a pattern that residents reduced or stopped their substance use between baseline and six-month follow-ups and then maintained those improvements at 12 and 18 months. Traditionally, halfway houses or a form of transitional living is designed for those coming out of incarceration who have been through a substance abuse treatment program. Some halfway houses are sponsored by the state, while others are privately funded. However, not all halfway houses are for convicted felons, and many are designed for anyone with an addiction disorder. Halfway homes are routinely part of aftercare programs and plans.

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The Importance of Halfway Houses or Recovery Housing

Anyone who has a history of addiction will often struggle to find stable housing, making it difficult to have adequate recovery. Also, someone with a history of addiction faces factors that contribute to low recovery capital, per the National Council on Behavioral Health. For example, these are barriers due to criminal backgrounds, low or no income, poor rental history, poor credit, limited education, and minimal work history. Someone in recovery requires flexible, supportive, recovery-focused housing options. Someone is less likely to recover from addiction and more likely to face other issues in life without these recovery options.

Research has shown that transitional housing like a halfway house provides a greater chance of achieving long-term sobriety. Recovery housing has been associated with numerous positive outcomes: decreased substance use, reduced probability of relapse, lower incarceration rates, higher income, increased employment, and improved family function. Moreover, the social support that is provided, and peer recovery support services are key components of recovery housing.

Additionally, economic costs and research have documented a cost-saving of $29,000 per person when comparing residency in a peer-run recovery home to returning to a community without recovery support. Transitional housing is an important process of recovery and has helped countless recovering addicts maintain sobriety and become contributing members of society again.

Choosing a Halfway House and Things to Know

Selecting the right halfway house is important because there are also alternatives to halfway houses, which are sober living homes. Everything falls under a blanket term of transitional housing or recovery housing. However, there are some resources that help when choosing a halfway house. When selecting a halfway house, some things to consider are the qualifications of the staff and what practical assistance is available. You would also want to consider what the home’s maximum occupancy is and if there are private rooms available. Most future residents would want to know if there are group counseling sessions and what kind of medical assistance is available.

One of the best ways to find the right halfway house is to work with the clinicians at the treatment center and find one that is the best fit. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, halfway houses are a major feature of the criminal justice system. The term halfway house can refer to a number of different types of facilities, such as one provided for someone recovering from addiction. However, for the purpose of this report, a halfway house is a residential facility where people leaving prisons or jail are required to live before being fully released into their communities.

Federally contracted halfway houses are called residential re-entry centers and state-licensed halfway houses are referred to as transitional centers, re-entry centers, or community recovery centers. Halfway houses can also refer to a few other types of facilities. For example, sober living homes, accommodate people recovering from addiction. Restitution centers are community-based or residential correctional facilities that act as alternatives to traditional incarceration, instead of prison or jail where a person serves their entire sentence. The term halfway house refers to facilities that differ in function and purpose.

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  • When is the best time to consider a halfway house?

    Rehabilitation does the initial work, but when treatment is over, there is usually the development of an aftercare plan, which could include a halfway house. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, treatment aims to return people to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and community. Unfortunately, relapse is a harsh reality of addiction recovery. Someone who struggled with chronic relapse before treatment would benefit from a halfway house. Per NIDA, approximately 40% to 60% of people who leave treatment struggle with a relapse.

    After treatment, a long-term plan may include a halfway house, which would help hold a person accountable during recovery. These transitional homes help reduce environmental and emotional relapse triggers. Moreover, it helps the person live their best life and follow through on responsibilities like paying rent, doing chores, going to work, etc. Halfway houses provide the opportunity to be in a community of support around others who are struggling with similar issues. More importantly, it helps you discover a life that is free from drugs and alcohol.

    Halfway houses contribute to long-term sobriety, especially if you are unsure about transitioning out of a treatment center. Someone who lives in a halfway house is more likely to stay in recovery by participating in groups. Halfway houses also help build structure and routine, which is beneficial to someone who has left a structured residential drug treatment program. A halfway house structure is useful for someone who is worried about falling back to old habits when they leave treatment.

    One of the most significant benefits of a halfway house is living with those who will help motivate you to achieve recovery. These other individuals also help you learn other ways to occupy your time and teach you better social interaction skills while also providing employment and life skills. Overall, a halfway house is designed to help you transition back to your previous life without using drugs or alcohol and make a smooth transition.

  • How do halfway houses operate?

    Every halfway house or transition house operates differently and has its own rules. However, the general premise is a safe place that is drug and alcohol-free allowing an opportunity to transition smoothly back into society. Some of the common guidelines at most halfway houses are sobriety is an absolute requirement. Homes often conduct random drug testing and alcohol screenings. Residents must also contribute to the facility, which involves chores, and of course, violence and theft are not tolerated. Moreover, most halfway houses have curfews, and residents must attend group meetings. More importantly, those who have not yet entered the workforce must take active steps toward employment.

    According to the National Council on Behavioral Health, one essential resource that enables individuals to achieve and maintain a life in recovery is recovery housing, which halfway houses fall within too. The term recovery housing refers to safe, healthy, and substance-free living environments that support individuals in recovery. Residences vary widely in structure, but all are centered on peer support and a connection to services that promote long-term recovery.

    Many residents live in recovery housing during and or after outpatient addiction treatment. The length of stay is self-determined, and it could last for several months or even years. Residents share resources and give experiential advice about how to access health care services and other support services. The recovery housing types range from independent, resident-run homes to staff-managed residences where clinical services are provided.

  • How are halfway houses different from sober living homes?

    The terms halfway house and sober living home are used interchangeably, but there are some differences. Halfway houses offer resources for addiction recovery but are commonly used as transitional housing for someone being released from prison or serving a sentence. Moreover, residents stay for different lengths of time at each. The stay at a halfway house typically is between three and twelve months, whereas sober living homes generally do not have time limits and residents stay the length of time they need.

    An average length of stay usually depends on the stability of a resident’s physical and mental health, their ability to support themselves, and the support available at home. Halfway houses also have rules regarding residents’ participation in treatment programs, while sober living homes focus on developing healthy lifestyle choices after completing residential rehabilitation. There are some advantages to halfway houses, particularly for individuals who have a strong personal support system at home. People choose a halfway house because it is a temptation-free environment and provides access to group counseling and other support. The differences between sober living homes and halfway houses are few and sober living homes are generally associated with addiction recovery more than halfway homes.

    Halfway houses do not restrict who can live at the house, and halfway houses may sometimes refer to court-ordered programs. Most residents of halfway houses and sober living homes have already completed detox and treatment. Typically, the completion of a rehabilitation program is a requirement when transitioning to a halfway house. Halfway houses are also not equipped to provide the medical care and mental health services provided at treatment centers.

  • Want to know more?

    The questions from Addicted.org’s “Learn from our Experts” are answered by Michael Leach, CCMA. If you need further clarification on any of the questions above or have any other questions you can contact him directly at mike@addicted.org.

Common Terminology Surrounding Halfway Houses

Term
Definition
Transitional Housing
refers to a supportive yet temporary type of accommodation that is meant to bridge the gap from homelessness to permanent housing. Transitional housing like halfway housing is also a blanket term used to describe transitional living for recovering addicts that have left a treatment center and are transitioning back into society.
Recovery Housing
refers to safe, healthy, and substance-free living environments that support individuals in recovery from addiction. The types of residences vary widely in structure but are primarily centered on peer support and a connection to services that promote long-term recovery.
Halfway House
refers to a type of transitional housing for former inmates of prisons and someone who has left a drug treatment center. Halfway houses are structured environments and provide support and help people with locating employment and a new place to live when the time comes.
Sober Living Home
refers to sober living environments that are facilities providing safe housing and supportive, structured living conditions for people exiting drug treatment programs. These homes act as a transitional period between treatment and society.
Aftercare Support
refers to continued support, counseling, or therapy after the completion of residential or outpatient treatment programs. The goal of aftercare support is relapse prevention, and this is done in many ways. Halfway houses would be considered a form of aftercare support for recovering addicts.
Group Counseling
refers to a therapy process that is comprised of six to eight students who meet face to face with one or two trained group therapists and talk about most concerns them. Group therapy is a common approach during addiction recovery and aftercare support, along with being used within halfway homes.
Peer Support Groups
refers to a regular meeting or gathering of men and women with lived experience of addiction and recovery. Peer support groups meet frequently or infrequently and are common practice within halfway houses.
12-Step Groups
these are mutual aid organizations for the purpose of recovery from substance abuse and addiction. The basic premise of the 12-step model in addiction treatment is that people can help one another achieve and maintain abstinence from drugs and alcohol. 12-step group meetings are routinely used within halfway houses.

CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ARTICLE

Author

AUTHOR

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Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.

Reviewer

MEDICAL REVIEWER

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Michael Leach is a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, who has over 5 years of experience working in the field of addiction. He spent his career working under the board-certified Addictionologist Dr. Rohit Adi. His experience includes working with families during their loved one’s stay in treatment, helping those with substance abuse issues find treatment, and teaching life skills to patients in a recovery atmosphere. Though he has worked in many different areas of rehabilitation, the majority of his time was spent working one on one with patients who were actively withdrawing from drugs. Withdrawal and the fear of going through it is one biggest reason why an addict continues to use and can be the most difficult part of the rehabilitation process. His experience in the withdrawal atmosphere has taught him that regardless of what approach a person takes to get off drugs, there are always mental and emotional obstacles that need to be overcome. He believes having someone there to help a person through these obstacles can make all the difference during the withdrawal process.