What is a Halfway House? - Addiction Rehab Blog
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What is a Halfway House?

What is a Halfway House?

Anyone who has been around the addiction treatment world has probably heard the term halfway house before. However, not everyone knows exactly what a halfway house is. Also, many people are confused about all the different words that are used in addition to halfway house. A halfway house refers to a living institution where people with mental, physical, or emotional disabilities can live while they are trying to reintegrate into society. Often places like this offer social services like case management, therapy, or medical care to the people who live there.

Who Goes to a Halfway House?

Many different people might go to a halfway house. Generally, they are for people who have been in some kind of inpatient or residential care and are looking for a way to transition to independent living. Often people who have been in inpatient addiction treatment will go to a halfway house before finding somewhere to live on their own. However, the term halfway house does not refer only to people who are struggling with addiction. People who have been in jail or a residential psychiatric facility might also go to a halfway house. Generally, these institutions specialize in specific populations. This means that there are specific halfway houses for people recovering from drug addiction and for those who have been released from prison.

Other Terms for Halfway Houses

There are many different terms that are used to refer to halfway houses. The term halfway house originally referred specifically to a place for people who were leaving jail or prison. However in recent years, many halfway houses have become more like sober living communities serving people with addiction rather than incarceration histories. There has also been a move away from using the term halfway house and instead place use other words to describe these types of transitional living places. Despite the many titles, these generally all refer to the same thing.

  • Halfway house
  • Transitional living
  • Sober living
  • SLE (sober living environment)
  • Recovery community home
  • Therapeutic community

Halfway House vs. Sober Living Environment

Like we said above, these terms are often used interchangeably. Many people often colloquially refer to sober living environments as halfway houses. However, there is a difference between the services offered at a traditional halfway house compared to those offered at a modern sober living environment. Historically, halfway houses have provided social services for people who have been released from jail while sober livings focus on people recovering from addiction.

A traditional halfway house might offer meetings with a social worker where as a sober living is more likely to offer case management from someone who specializes in addiction. A traditional halfway house is also more likely to be low cost or state run when compared with a SLE. While there are state run sober livings, there are also many that offer luxury accommodations that come with a big price tag. Finally compared to traditional halfway houses, sober livings often offer many more ancillary services. These might include transportation to and from recovery meetings or even food.

What to Expect at a Halfway House

What to expect at a halfway house depends largely on what kind of halfway house it is. Like we said above, there are big differences between traditional places for people leaving prison versus those for people in addiction recovery. However, there are also some similarities. Here are some of the things you will find at most halfway house regardless of it’s specialty:

  • Rules – curfew, community standards, etc.
  • Drug or alcohol testing
  • Social services – case management
  • Communal living or shared living spaces
  • Requirements for employment
  • Oversight – part time or full time staff on site

Halfway houses can be a great way to help you transition back to living on your own. If you are about to leave residential care, do your research and find out what kind of transitional living might be best for you.

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