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Halfway & 3/4 recovery houses – 5 things any sober living facility MUST have

What is a halfway recovery house?

Halfway houses are like “assisted living” facilities for addicts and alcoholics in recovery. Halfway houses facilities vary, but are most often a group of housing units (such as a group of apartments, condos, or multiple bedrooms within the same house) managed by an individual or company that recovering addicts and alcoholics rent. The management SHOULD provide tenants with support and help in recovery. Some do. Some don’t. But most people would agree that the purpose of a halfway house is to provide a safe and supportive environment for people in early sobriety who are not quite ready to live completely on their own.

Why stay in a halfway or 3/4 house?

Sometimes a person in early recovery needs extra help to get back on their feet, or it is not good to return “home” where friends or family are still using. Other people spend the first months of sobriety in a halfway house because they have been recommeded transitional housing by a treatment center or drug court. Either way, THE MAIN IDEA is that by sticking with other newly clean and sober people and by following management suggestions, recovery is easier than on your own. So what should every sober living facility have?

5 things every sober living facility should have

1. Structure – Halfway houses need guidelines and rules so that everyone living in the community agrees to certain expectations as a condition for continued rental. If rules are not in place, move on and find another housing alternative. Some things that help addicts and alcoholics in early recovery include:

  • bans on alcohol or drugs
  • bans on overnight guests
  • cleaning standards
  • evening curfews
  • shared responsibilities
  • wake up times

2. Safety – Any half way or 3/4 way house needs to be safe. Housing capacity should not exceed local jurisdiction law. Neighborhood safety should not worry you. Fire alarms and electrical outlets should be up to standards. And physical threats from other residents should not be an issue. Be sure that the halfway house that you are considering feels and seems safe before entering into a contractual agreement.

3. Drug testing – Halfway houses need to identify drug users from people in recovery and should actively use drug testing to protect its sober community. If the halfway house that you have chosen does not implement regular drug tests, or random drug tests, or drug tests when residents leave the facility overnight…keep looking.

4. Support staff – Sometimes, half way houses are operated by people who mean well, but who don’t quite know what they’re doing. Opt for a halfway house that hires full time manager(s) to handle day-to-day business, and to keep the community accountable. If youfind a halfway house that is run by an owner who lives out of town…look for another or ask a local treatment center for a referral to halfway houses with a good reputation. You want an active and helpful staff that can implement the structure and safety that you need.

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5. Personal accountability – The best halfway houses look to support you in your recovery by requiring certain actions. These actions are not only healthy for you, but they are required in real life. Look for a halfway house that requires the following actions and keeps the community accountable to them:

  • attendance at daily 12 step meetings
  • attendance at halfway house meetings
  • part time work (at least)
  • volunteer work (if you’re retired)
  • working with a 12 step sponsor

If you have something to add to this list, please do so at the bottom! Or if you are thinking about going to a halfway or 3/4 way house, and wonder what it will be like, or just want to ask a question…comment here. We answer all comments and feedback personally!

Photo credit: David Chilstrom

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43 Responses to “Halfway & 3/4 recovery houses – 5 things any sober living facility MUST have
Shari Anderson
1:53 am July 26th, 2012

What is the difference between a halfway house and a three-quarter house?

12:05 am July 31st, 2012

Hi Shari. Great question!

Generally, a halfway house is more strict than a 3/4 way house and requires that residents meet daily curfews, pass regular or random drug tests, or attend psychotherapy or addiction support group meetings. In comparison, a 3/4 way house often has less supervision but serves as a safe place for recovering addicts and alcoholics to reintegrate into society. So a 3/4 house will have the support, but not so much the “rules” of a halfway house.

lee
10:17 pm August 24th, 2012

can you work full time, and live in a half way house?

7:06 pm August 25th, 2012

Hi Lee. Yes, you can work and live in a halfway house, although every house has its own rules and conditions. In fact, some halfway houses require employment (usually part time). Does that help?

Pam
3:01 pm January 2nd, 2013

Hello, my son is in rehab now , for the second time , he will not returning back home, he is going to a 3/4 house and he gets clean , he does not work has really has not had a long working history , from what I was told one of the requirements is to work full time ! Find a job within a few weeks , I wonder if he does not will they kick him out ?

3:02 pm January 4th, 2013

Hi Pam. Good for you to set a limit! Whether or not the halfway house will kick him out or not depends on their management. Find the phone number and speak with the house manager or representative to get a clear picture of how they manage client participation in 12 step programs, psychotherapy, and work.

Barbaa Jones
8:28 pm January 6th, 2013

Can you give information on 3/4 Housing in Georgia that would meet
all five standards needed. This in for my Granddaughter that will soon leave the RStat program.

2:01 pm January 10th, 2013

Hi Barbaa. I’d suggest that you call the National Drug Abuse Hotline. They can help you locate 3/4 houses across GA by city or distance from where you live. It’s a free government hotline, so make use of it and let me know if this information helps!!!

1-800-662-HELP

Sarah
9:43 pm January 21st, 2013

I would recommend assigning a buddy, offering case management, and developing groups based on needs for instance a 19 year old may not know how to grocery shop, cook and manage money. They are capable and even if they did it at one time, the drugs caused a loss of independence. Rehab perpetuates dependence and then they are sent on their own after only 28 days.

Patricia
6:49 pm May 14th, 2013

If opening a 3/4 house in an area where there is none, how does the facility get its money? Does the government pay for the clients stay at the transition house or insurance or I am not sure how you as the owner of the facility gets paid to be able to help those who are needing a 3/4 house. Example: if a prisoner is being released to the 3/4 house for the transition back into society, who pays for his room and board while at the facility?

pamela kohler
11:43 pm May 21st, 2013

I dont really know how to ask for help but i have been out of the dept of corrections for over 4 months i have been clean and am currently stayin with active addicts who dont get what is happening to me and i feel really alone, i have lived my whole life revolving around using and selling and i have been to doc 4 times and am not tryin to go back but i feel like i am living on the edge i am desperate to find a positive environment and everyone i have stepped to wont help unless i have money so my faith in recovery is dwindling just didnt know if you would have any ideas thanx for listening

8:51 am May 22nd, 2013

Hi Pamela. Find a social worker in your area immediately! There should be sliding scale halfway houses near you…or a safe home where you can set up in the beginning of your recovery. You NEED to get away from active addicts. They are not helping you at all! If you want to send me your zip code, I’ll do a search and send you back a list of halfway houses you can call. Many DO require a down payment, but others may waive the initial cost as long as you pay as you go. You need to do a little research and keep reaching out for help!

Marilyn
5:33 pm December 29th, 2013

I just opened a halfway house for women. I am the live in house manager licensed Drug and alcohol,as well as mental health practitioner. There are several sober living houses in the area who claim to provide the same structure, and all of the same amenities such as on the bus line, internet access and cable, laundry facilities etc. However their rent is about 75.00 dollars cheaper a month than my house. The difference is they are considered sober living because they don’t have on site live in managers. Is it appropriate to charge a higher rate for a halfway house such as mine?

11:28 am December 31st, 2013

Hello Marilyn. In my opinion, absolutely. The additional supervision in the form of a live in manager increases your costs, and provides additional security to your residents. This can definitely be reflected as increased price on the market. Do you provide on site drug testing, as well? Look into the National Alliance for Recovery Residences for standards and best practices in the management of sober living facilities. Best regards and keep up the good work!

Marilyn
5:06 pm January 8th, 2014

Thank you so much for your reply regarding the Lynn House halfway house. We have been getting some flack from some of the treatment centers that our rates are higher than most of the 3/quarter way houses or other recovery houses in Omaha. Yes we do provide on site drug testing, and additional support. Thank you for the reference to the National Alliance for Recovery Residences, I plan on checking with them immediately.

Mike
3:01 am March 4th, 2014

My name is Mike and I am a recovering alcoholic. Some of my friends moved to transitional housing after rehab. I’m not impressed with these houses. Could You point me in the right direction to start a house

2:22 pm March 5th, 2014

Hi Mike. Thanks for your question. You might start here:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3057870/

And look into halfway house associations in your local area, state, or region. These can be great contacts for programs looking to grow. Also, have you considered working in management at a halfway house that is credentialed before opening one of your own?

Frazier
6:11 am August 16th, 2014

I’m am interested in opening a halfway house. Or a 3/4 house if you can help me out with the info I would gladly appreciate thanks

ms pitts
4:07 am September 15th, 2014

Does a 3/4 house have to be a 501..3c

9:15 am September 15th, 2014

Hello ms pitts. The business status of a 3/4 house will depend on your state and county laws. Generally, these types of sober houses are interested in generating money. I’d suggest that you call your State Attorney General’s office for more information, or your county administrative office to get some clarity.

Cierra
12:38 pm September 15th, 2014

Hello I would like to go to a halfway house for help. Is it a walkin?

Rev. James A. King Jr.
2:38 am January 25th, 2015

Greetings,

I would like to have some information on starting a 1/2 or 3/4 home preferably 3/4. I’m a minister first and I’ve had my share of recovering from addictions.

I would like to give back what I’ve obtained through my own recovery. I’m not looking to get rich off clients in recovery I’m looking to help those honestly want to help themselves!

Respectfully submitted,

Rev. James A. King Jr.

Angel
11:05 pm April 22nd, 2015

Hi, I am interested in opening a 3/4 house in Michigan. I have already found a house to purchase that would be ideal for this project. I am now trying to find out what the legalities are. Do you have any info on that or links? what are my first steps after purchasing the 3/4 house. Thank you

Virginia
6:54 pm May 18th, 2015

My boyfriend and I live together. He went to rehab in March for alcohol but is still struggling and is drinking again at times. We have CPS involvement and are not getting to see his kids. Now he is considering entering a three quarter house. My concern is the consequences of tested positive for alcohol and the CPS workers input if he goes or goes and fails. If you go voluntarily, can you leave voluntarily? And why not just go back to a rehab in the first place? will I end up having to drive all the time to pick him up for everything? work? Doctors? meetings? I am scared and stressed and confused. SO MANY QUESTIONS – and a worker is coming to talk to us Today at 4 30. Yes, I attend Al Anon and have since March. i also attend Recovery.

rachel
3:11 am June 25th, 2015

My situation is unique and I’ve been unable to find much information that might be useful to me or help quell my concerns.

I have an 8-year-old son for whom I share custody with his now-sober-for-four-years father. He has lived around the corner from me and we have operated on a 5/5/2 schedule for the last year. He’s been through a lot of jobs in the last eight years, but has now been offered a job as the resident manager/admissions coordinator for a sober living home (co-ed, last I heard,but no other children on site)that will be opening in our home in a couple of months. It will be housed in a place that operated as a small hotel that is also in our general small neighborhood.This would require him to be live on the premises. So far, the only details of the job description that I know are that he has to be there between 9 and 10 pm to do a curfew check and also wake everyone up in the morning. He is supposed to be getting me a detailed job description from the owner/director, but has yet to do that. He says that his living quarters there are right next to the one-story building (u-shaped,I guess) and that it has its own kitchen, bath, etc.

As much as I am totally thrilled for him to have an opportunity to work with people in recovery, I’m pretty concerned about my son’s safety. I have a friend of the family who is a therapist at a credential rehab center in Tennessee and she tells me that it is no place for a child even if he is reportedly being shielded as much as possible. So far, his plan is to leave our son locked in their place when he has to do curfew checks and he tells me he won’t be exposed to the clients there at all. We don’t leave our 8-year-old (he just turned 8) home alone now. He’s a super bright, sweet boy who also has had some therapy for a lot of fears he has. He’s an outside kid obsessed with basketball and will spend hours shooting.

I grew up with a stepfather who was sober a long time and who sponsored many people along the way until he died of cancer. I saw a lot of people go from utter despair to living wonderful, full lives. I love the idea of the peer support and nurturing of a sober house situation. My son has been to AA meetings with his dad, but he doesn’t really know what they are all about. He has met a lot of good people in the recovery community and I have no qualms about him being a part of that.

Am I wrong to worry that this is not a safe living arrangement for a little kid?

2:10 pm June 26th, 2015

Hi Rachel. It’s my personal opinion that a sober living facility is not meant for children. I’d suggest that you consult both a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a lawyer on this one. Or talk with a family addictions specialist (licensed psychologist). Above all, follow your gut.

rachel
1:55 am July 4th, 2015

Thank you so much for responding. I toured the empty facility this morning and am even less inclined to think my child should spend any time there. I’ve spoken with many addiction counselors, my son’s therapist, other sober living homes and have not had one person tell me it would be a safe, appropriate place for a child. It was universally unheard for the single live-in house manager to have a young child with him 50% of the time. A lawyer will be next. I did have a short e-mail exchange with the owner/director of the facility where my son would be half of the time and her analogy was that of an apartment complex:

“I am a mom too, and have been a single parent for many years. I truly get and respect that you have a lot of questions. However, I think after you speak with me your mind will be at ease. I can’t think of a more ideal job and even in this case, setting, for a single parent. It’s not often that you have a job where you can be with your son the whole time you’re at work. The men living there will be very advanced in their recovery process, probably a lot of professionals etc. almost like a small apartment complex with no party people.”

I will speak to her via phone when she is back from her vacation in Mexico,but I suspect she either does not have an accurate picture of our custody arrangement and the kind of kid by son is or she is panicking at the though of losing him as the on-site manager since she says they are opening in three weeks (my ex had told me no residents would be there until November) and losing the $7,500 a month she charges per resident would be a big blow.

cynthia
2:39 pm October 10th, 2015

For some reason the recovery house I live at in phila., wants me to specifically pay “room and board”. They do not want me calling it “rent”, why is that. By the way, they also are being paid by my insurance carrier, CBH.

3:39 pm November 4th, 2015

Hi Cynthia. Every facility has its own rules and ways of operating. You can check their policies and see if they are working as promised. Also, check to see how much is covered by your health insurance provider. The “treatment locator” of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) lists any program that is state-licensed, and you can search for other recovery houses in your area: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/TreatmentLocator/faces/quickSearch.jspx

Gary
3:31 pm November 14th, 2015

I am looking to start my own halfway house, 3/4 house, transition house or sober house in the West Palm Beach area. I have no experience in this area but I own a 5 bedroom home which is just sitting vacant. I have tried the section 8 programs but the tenants really beat your properties down making it not worth doing. Therefore, a friend suggest I use it for the purpose that I named aboved. I need help with information on how to start, which agencies to contact first, should I be licensed and how to get clients that programs will pay for their stay. Also, my background is vocational rehabilitation counseling 5 years helping transition students with disabilities, veterans, and people with mental illnesses.

6:07 pm November 16th, 2015

Hey Gary. You have a wonderful idea, and I hope it will come true! I did some research, and I found these articles: https://www.sba.gov/blogs/resources-starting-halfway-house-or-transitional-housing-facility and http://nicd.inspirehealth.org/howtoopenahalfwayhouseorhelpstartingahalfwayhouse.html I hope you find them useful, or you can ask them for further reference.

Mary
5:38 pm November 26th, 2015

I would like to get information on starting a home for girls. I lost my son to a heroine overdose last year. He was in a 3/4 house. He had relapsed and I rushed to put him somewhere else – a faith based program, so he would not wind up doing time. I blame myself, because I should have been more careful with his life. I grieve daily and the pain will never end. The only thing I can do now is try to help others from not making the same mistakes I made. I made a terrible mistake and my son’s life was lost because of it. My heart is so broken.

2:52 pm November 30th, 2015

Hi Mary. I am very sorry for your loss! I am, however, glad that you are willing to do what you can to help others. You will need to research your State’s government oversight, funding, and structure requirements. I was able to find the following resources with lists on what you have to do to open a sober house, halfway house, or 3/4 house:
https://www.sba.gov/blogs/resources-starting-halfway-house-or-transitional-housing-facility
http://smallbusiness.chron.com/open-sober-living-home-18359.html
Hope this helps!

Rachael
4:57 am December 29th, 2015

How do I go about opening a 3/4 house in Pa?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
1:23 am February 2nd, 2016

Hi, Rachael. I suggest you talk with a lawyer or a paralegal to learn if there are any laws and regulations. Also, I found this: http://nicd.inspirehealth.org/howtoopenahalfwayhouseorhelpstartingahalfwayhouse.html Hope it will help!

Kathi
3:17 am February 15th, 2016

Hi, im interested in oprning a 3/4 way house in my community in Miami,Fl. How do i go about getting information. I eould love to help clean my community up from all the corruption from drug use and alchohol

Sherry
5:52 pm March 27th, 2016

I am in the process of buying a 6 bedroom, 3.5 bath home in the West Palm Beach area. My daughter is a recovering addict and I have witnessed her struggles to find a good place to live while recovering. I want to run this home as a 3/4 house. I don’t know where to start. I did check out some of your links but some are no longer valid. Any help & advice is appreciated.

Tonisha
2:20 pm April 28th, 2016

My Brother has been sobering up at my house. But needs mental guidance as well. He is on denial about a lot of things and his past still bothers him. He refuses to look for a job to stand on his own 2 feet. It’s almost like he wants someone to do everything for him, and his communication is bad. Where can I bring him for help and a place to live? PLEASE HELP Does anyone know of places in Northern Virginia area???

mrsstemple
5:31 pm May 3rd, 2016

My father and I are looking into opening a 3/4 house in Pennsylvania. We are going to contact our local Senator. Can you tell me anything or lead me in a direction to find for information on this?

Edward
9:19 pm July 14th, 2016

I am alcoholic and i want to get up on my feet to make the program to enable me get myself together. Anyway i was in a program before almost to be graduated and i relapse. I want to give myself another chance so asking u for a permission if you will accept my request. Thank you to hear from you.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
3:31 pm July 20th, 2016

Hi Edward. If you have questions about addiction treatment and your options, immediate assistance is available. Call our free hotline to speak with a trusted treatment consultant.

Delilah
5:02 am October 17th, 2016

Who do I contact to report a 3/4 house doing illegal things?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
11:12 am October 18th, 2016

Hi Delialah. Call 911 for any illegal activities that happen in the house.

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