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What Qualifies for a Sober Living House? How Do I Know if It’s a “Good” Sober Home?

Looking for quality substance abuse care for you or a loved one can be riddled with questions, and options. Do we need an inpatient or an outpatient facility? What qualifications are important in sober living homes? How do I know whether or not the sober living houses near me are “good” or not?

When considering sober living houses (SLHs), it can be especially burdensome because “there is no formal monitoring of SLH’s that are not affiliated with associations or coalitions.” What this means is that opening a sober living home requires no official qualification, certification, or licensing. However, you can be assured that the Sober Living Program through Lighthouse Recovery exceeds the industry’s highest standards, and when comparing with other sober living nearby you can see why Lighthouse Recovery is so highly reviewed.

Here’s what most experts in the field recommend to look for to find “good” sober living homes near you:

  1. Commitment to sobriety

An obvious first tick to check when considering sober homes near you is whether or not the SLH has a specific commitment to sobriety. How does the sober living house deal with relapse? Do housemates sign a contract? Who is in charge of ensuring the house stays sober? ‘

At Lighthouse Recovery, we have small sober living house sizes: with a maximum of 8 residents and a 3:1 resident-to-staff ratio. This way, we can ensure all housemates are held accountable and the house stays a safezone.  

  1. Randomized drug and alcohol testing

To hold all housemates accountable, randomized (and ideally, free) drug and alcohol testing helps make sure no substance abuse goes unnoticed. If you’re looking at a few sober living homes, ask them how often they conduct randomized testing. Then follow up with checking the protocol for failed testing. 

  1. Staff and staffing ratios

Because sober living houses don’t have to meet certain criteria, there can be great variation in the level of oversight of each house. Check with the sober living homes you’re interested in and see if their house managers are part-time or full-time. How many residents does each house manager oversee? At Lighthouse Recovery, our staff-to-resident ratios are extremely small. We have a 3:1 staff-to-resident ratio; compare that with other sober living houses where they may have as high as a 10:1 staff-to-resident ratio. Not only do our small ratios help maintain a unified front within the house, it keeps all residents accountable and ensures not one individual falls through the cracks. Our staff knows each resident closely, and can be aware of subtle signs of relapse or upcoming problems.

Don’t forget to inquire about the therapists. To achieve maximum benefit from therapy, you want to be connected with licensed, Master’s level Clinicians who are experienced in substance abuse. There’s a difference between a trained therapist and a housemate running therapy sessions. Among many other things, licensed Clinicians can confidently and successfully practice evidence-based and experimental behavioral therapy tactics most proven to lead to long-lasting sobriety.

  1. Capacity in the houses

Another key difference between sober living houses comes through the house capacity. Make sure to get an understanding of HOW many residents live in one house, how many per room, and ask about common areas. Unfortunately, some sober living homes bunk up to 18 residents per house and cram 6 individuals into a single room. At Lighthouse Recovery, we boast in our spacious, accommodating homes. Our houses max out at 8 residents per home and only 2 individuals share a room. Remember, most stays at a SLH last at least a few months – you want to feel as comfortable as possible!

  1. Both group and individual therapy

Depending on where you are in your recovery, you’ll want to see if the sober home offers both group and individual therapy. Some simply encourage residents to participate in group therapy (like Alcoholics Anonymous); whereas, at Lighthouse Recovery, we track attendance at individual and in-house group therapy as well as outside group meetings.

  1. Clean, welcoming ambience 

Once the above checkboxes have been ticked, go visit the sober living home in person. You want to walk into a clean, welcoming, intimate ambience. Everyone’s sobriety journey is different, but many sober living homes require a 90-day commitment. You want to feel comfortable, safe, and encouraged in your new home for the next few months. Your gut can usually give you a good intuition on this checkbox! (And, feel free to check out our modern, spacious facilities at Lighthouse Recovery here.)


  1. Professional continued care after release 

If you’re really serious about sticking to your sobriety and preventing relapse, ask the sober living homes near you if they offer any programming after graduation. Some do offer one-on-one meetings with a staff member (or a Recovery Coach as we call it at Lighthouse Recovery). If you’re deciding between two SLH facilities, choose the one that offers a continuum of care. You’ll want that support when you’re back “in the real world”.

Making the decision on the right sober living house can be difficult, as there are often many sober living houses to evaluate. Keep in mind quality matters, and a little more of an investment upfront will pay off in your sobriety journey. Give us a call at Lighthouse Recovery, and we’d love to discuss if our Sober Living Program is right for you.

Learn more about our services or contact us below to discover how Lighthouse can help you on your road to recovery today. Thank you for your trust.