What Is the difference Between Sober Living and Drug Rehab?

Some people get clean and do recovery at a sober living home, and others go to residential/inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment center – what’s the difference?



Home 9 Sober Living or Addiction Treatment Center
Getting Clean at a Sober Living Homer vs. an Addiction Treatment Center

The quick answer is: drug rehabs/addiction treatment centers are state licensed with credentialed clinical staff, and sober living homes are not.


Drug addiction, alcoholism, and mental illness are unique from other illnesses, in that, no two sufferers are ultimately alike. There are certainly similarities and commonalities, but with so many variables at play, the recovery process is anything but a cookie-cutter scenario.

A question that is so commonly asked within the addiction/sober community is, why is it that, while one individual can get clean & sober by simply spending a few months living in a sober living home and attending AA or NA meetings, another drug addict or alcoholic with seemingly similar behaviors will find themselves going in and out of residential treatment centers, each time with limited sobriety afterwards?

So why is it that something with limited structure and greater freedoms, like a recovery home, halfway house, etc., can work for one person, while another addict needs total loss of freedom and intensive clinical services, as would be the case in an inpatient drug rehab, and even still can’t really seem to put any substantial sober time together upon completing the treatment program??


First off, for any person to have a realistic chance in attaining success in long-term sobriety, there is one requirement. That requirement is “willingness,” a willingness to take direction and suggestions from others, even when you don’t want to; a willingness to feel a little discomfort, and push through it; a willingness to be honest, and humble, and so forth. Without at least some level of willingness to have these new experiences in life, it makes no difference whether one chooses sober living, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, etc., because failure is a near certainty.


When comparing sober living environments vs. traditional residential drug & alcohol rehab, the most profound difference is structure and freedom. One of the key variations between one addict to another, is how high of a fence do they need during the first few days and weeks of sobriety. Some absolutely can not initially put the drug or alcohol down without having all freedoms & resources removed for the first few weeks; no money, no car, totally restricted to the premises, etc. Someone like that should start their recovery journey in a residential addiction treatment setting, and utilize a sober living/recovery home environment as a transition tool upon completing the rehab program.,


First off, it is widely accepted, pretty much across the board, by addiction & mental health clinicians, therapists, physicians, etc., that the longer a person in early recovery spends living in a structured, proactive, sober environment, the better their chances for attaining long-term sobriety. However, when comparing sober livings & recovery homes to that of inpatient treatment centers, it is important to recognize that treatment centers provide a bubble-like environment that is more protective, but not representative of real-life environments, with real-life issues & scenarios. In contrast, since sober livings and transitional housing environments encourage (some even require) engaging in things like, employment, school, AA/NA meetings, sober socializing, etc., the recovering addict gets many opportunities to practice navigating the ups & downs of early sobriety within real life scenarios, while still having the safety net provided by the sober living home.


The cost associated with living in a halfway house, recovery home, sober living , etc., can range from as little as $450 to $500 per month, up to as much as 6, 8 or even 10 thousand dollars per month! There’s obviously no comparison between those two pricing examples, whereas the 450/500 are common to inner cities, usually low structure, have minimal comforts, and are often rundown, the 6, 8, 10 thousand residences are found exclusively in places like Malibu & Beverly Hills, CA, South Beach (Miami), FL, and Manhattan, NY, feature various concierge-type services within an amenity-rich environment, and so forth.

In terms of cost with respect to drug & alcohol rehab centers, the range from low to high is enormous. On the lower end there are those that accept Medicare or Medicaid, non-profits like, shelters, state, county, locally, and privately funded facilities, and charities (i.e., Salvation Army). Keep in mind, it is common for these types of treatment centers to have waiting lists due to contracts in place with various referrers, which often keep their beds quite full. Then there are the places that maybe charge 8, 10, 12, 15 thousand per month (give or take) for private pay. Many of these may also be in-network for HMO patients having private insurance plans. As you move up in cost you begin to see nicer facilities, most of which do not take HMO plans, but a very high percentage will take PPO out-of-network plans. If you don’t have insurance and intend to pay out of pocket, the monthly cost can range from 15 to 20 thousand dollars per month, to as much as 60, 70 thousand or more per month.

And as for availability of addiction treatment centers, there are more facilities in the United States than there are in all the world’s other nations combined.

The items discussed above are just a few of the characteristics that may play a role in why an addict or alcoholic might choose to attend a sober living residence rather than a treatment program, or vice versa.

New Lyfe Solutions, in many cases, is able to act as an affordable (and effective) alternative to traditional residential drug rehab. Our upscale, semi-structured sober living residences provide our male & female clients a healthy balance of support, guidance, and accountability, yet the necessary freedoms for work, school, family life, and other important elements as they build this new life of theirs in recovery.

We invite you to learn more about New Lyfe Solutions, along with some of the many benefits we offer to those just getting sober from drug or alcohol addictions. And  feel free to reach us 7 days a week at (844) 463-9593.

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