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Rules & Regulations of a Sober Living House

Sober living homes can be a critical part of early recovery. Lack of a safe, substance-free living environment can quickly lead to relapse.

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If a person in early recovery doesn’t have a stable home environment, it’s recommended that they live in a sober living home as they adjust to life without substance use.

Residents in a sober living house are held to a higher standard after they complete a rehabilitation program. They have the guarantee of a substance-free environment, support from other residents to find employment and go to support group meetings, and increasing freedom and responsibilities that help them build a new routine for themselves after overcoming addiction.

Residents need to adhere to certain rules and regulations to continue living in the sober living house. While specific rules vary from facility to facility, there are some general guidelines that most sober living homes use.

Increased Freedom



Sober living houses offer an important form of support in the ongoing recovery process.

While detox and rehabilitation create a strong foundation to feel good being substance-free, behavioral change can take months to integrate completely. Rehabilitation programs offer group therapy, and often individual therapy, to begin the process of behavioral change, which reduces the risk of relapse.

A sober living house allows residents to continue practicing abstinence while creating a daily routine with more freedom. If you are involved in outpatient rehab, there is a specific treatment schedule you must follow. Sober living homes don’t usually have this regimented schedule. Learning to live with this increased freedom can be an especially important step for people who have completed a more structured rehabilitation program.

If you are exiting a residential treatment program, a sober living home is a good transitional step before you return back home. The massive difference between living in a rehab center around the clock and life at home can be too much in early recovery. This transitional living situation can be critical to finding solid footing in life outside the treatment center.

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The Rules & Regulations for Living in a Sober Living House

Because sober living houses are intended to support the recovery process, they have rules that are designed to keep residents safe while they learn to build a sober lifestyle. Sober living houses are managed by homeowners, on-site managers, or via a democratic, social approach. Again, each house can have slightly different rules.

There are some core rules that can be found in most sober homes.

  • No drugs or alcohol are allowed on the premises. Some exceptions may be made for specific prescriptions, like antidepressants.
  • Anyone who wants to live in a sober living house must be able to pay their own expenses.
  • Residents must participate in household activities like once-weekly meetings and regular chores.
  • Potential residents must have completed detox and rehabilitation, and they should have a plan to go to therapy or 12-step meetings at least once per week.
  • Residents must sleep at the sober living house at least five nights per week, with very few exceptions for travel.
  • There will be random drug and alcohol screenings for all residents to ensure safety and sobriety.
  • Residents must be accountable for their whereabouts when they are not on the property, and they must adhere to the house’s curfew.

Specifics of these rules, like curfew times, are determined by the company running the sober home, the manager or homeowner, or the residents themselves through a residential council. As long as rules are followed, a person can generally live at a sober living house for as long as they want.

Residency in this type of environment can keep you accountable for your actions and your recovery process while providing a supportive environment to remain abstinent.

Additional Rules at Sober Living Houses

There may be other rules associated with the sober living house. Ask prospective homes about their specific rules. Here are some examples:

Are residents allowed to have a job while living in the house?


Sober living home residents are usually encouraged to find employment. In some cases, they will eventually be required to do so because they are responsible for their own bills and finances.

There are some grant programs that offer a little financial help for a month or two. This enables people  graduating from rehabilitation to have some startup money to get into a home, pay their bills, and feel less stressed about finding a job.

Are there restriction on phone or internet use?

This will depend on the residence or overseeing organization. Inpatient rehabilitation programs typically restrict communication with the outside world, but sober living homes are less likely to attempt this sort of restriction.

Instead, residents are accountable for their own outside activities, and they must pay their own bills. Often, a resident of a sober home may have a cellphone and a laptop, which helps them work and manage personal events.

Can residents bring a car?

This will depend on the location of the house. Parking may be restricted, or access to public transportation may be limited.

Each home will have a different rule regarding car access. But since each home encourages a growing level of responsibility, many residents have cars so they can get to work and support group meetings.

Can residents have guests over?

This varies by sober home. For example, some homes don’t allow residents to have overnight guests in the first month or two, when the resident is considered in the early phase of recovery. But once residents in good standing transition to a more stable position in recovery, they are allowed to have overnight guests twice per week.

Other visitors, like spouses and children, can be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Residents may consider meeting with friends and family in neutral locations, like a coffee shop, outside their residence during the day.

Are group meetings offered?

Increasingly, sober living houses are asking 12-step recovery groups and other types of mutual support groups to have meetings in the house for residents. This varies widely by residence. Often, those living in the home are also required to go to outside meetings at least once per week.

What type of supervision is there?

Most sober living homes have an on-site manager, but supervision generally comes from the residents themselves. Democratic meetings help residents to run the home smoothly.

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