What are the differences between going the route of sober living & recovery housing versus drug rehab for those fighting addiction?


What is the difference between drug rehab and sober living homesBasically, the only similarities between drug rehab centers and sober living homes (also referred to as addiction recovery housing) are that they are both sober environments and both generally mandate random drug testing.  Though given the fact that, these days there are many various structures and styles of sober living homes, there can actually be other similarities as well but it’s on a case by case basis.

In examining the differences between the two, however, there is much that can be said in this regard. Keep in mind also that while many people will attempt to get clean initially in sober living rather than in residential addiction treatment, the main drawback in going this route is that they give up nearly all of the clinical services traditionally offered in drug rehab settings.

A closer look at the key differences between drug treatment and sober living setting:

Inpatient Drug Rehabs:

  • Take most PPO health insurance policies with little money out of pocket
  • Provide meals and snacks
  • Mandate a minimum of 25 hours of group therapy weekly
  • Provide individual therapy 1-3 times per week
  • Offer case management services to help schedule necessary appointments while in treatment and identify appropriate resources for aftercare
  • Provide clients with a recovery coach and/or individual therapist – someone in recovery whom they can relate to
  • Involve families in the clients’ treatment, recovery and discharge planning
  • There is 24 hour staff supervision so clients are constantly being monitored on their whereabouts.
  • Encourages mind, body, spirit growth through practices such as meditation, yoga, mindfulness, exercise, art therapy and canine therapy.
  • Offers spiritual counseling as desired
  • Mandates that clients attend 12-step meetings or other types of outside support groups
  • Has a psychiatrist on staff whom clients see weekly
  • Some programs offer resume writing and teach interview strategies as well as other life-building skills
  • If in the right geographic area, equine therapy may be offered
  • CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) skills are taught and clients learn to apply them in all areas of their lives.
  • Clients have the right to file a grievance if they feel mistreated.
  • Staff dispenses and supervised medication administration.


Sober Living Homes:

  • Entails weekly or monthly out-of-pocket housing cost (no health insurance)
  • Generally require that clients work, go to school, volunteer or attend outpatient treatment
  • Many sober living homes lock clients out during the day which gives new clients with no structure and too much idle time on the streets
  • Many sober living homes do not allow cars on site, at least for the first month or two
  • There is a house manager who lives on property but has no formal training – he/she is just another alcoholic or drug addict.
  • The rate of relapse is much higher
  • Clients are responsible for their own medication
  • Clients have to go grocery shopping and cook for themselves (generally)
  • The rate of theft tends to be higher
  • Clients are simply expected to have/know life skills rather than being taught
  • There is no medical personnel on staff
  • Just about anyone can open a sober living as most states don’t report to a reputable body or have inspections.


Please remember that these are only some of the differences between drug rehabs and sober living homes. And also keep in mind that there are also more highly structured sober living homes that do offer a integrated recovery environment, but they still generally fall short as compared to residential treatment programs.

For more information contact Arizona Addiction Recovery Center 24/7 at 602.346.9130, and for those with private PPO health insurance we offer a quick and confidential insurance verification of benefits form and can usually complete benefits verification within 2 to 3 hours of submission.



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