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California Sober Living Homes

What Are Sober Living Homes in California?

California sober living homes are residences that provide drug-free and alcohol-free housing for a community of people in recovery. The support model at these homes is informal, and residents do not typically get professional services from the sober living home directly. Instead, support is peer-oriented and emphasizes self-help.
Unlike formal rehab programs that must get a license from the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), California law on substance abuse is less restrictive on sober living homes. Nevertheless, many sober living homes in California choose to adopt national standards and join associations that monitor the safety, health, and compliance of the recovery model used by the sober living home.

Daily Life in California Sober Living Homes

Daily routines within a sober living home include morning chores, house meetings, substance abuse counseling, community service, 12-step meetings, group therapy, and group activities. Some California sober living houses encourage their residents to adopt a daily exercise routine and may include time for meditation.
Most California sober living homes have a house manager that runs the day-to-day activities and provides structure and routines for its residents. These activities prepare residents for a substance-free and independent future.

How to Increase Your Chances of Staying Sober While in California Sober Living

Residents can increase the likelihood of staying sober by committing to the guidelines set out by the sober living home. Being actively involved in the day-to-day group activities, therapies, and meetings help increase the chances of an individual staying sober. These activities affect the mind positively and give the resident a sense of belonging.
Also, to avoid a relapse, the sober living home encourages residents without a job to actively commit to seeking a job and make advancements towards a career or personal goal. Lastly, residents in a California sober living home may take up fun activities that can add value, such as a new sport or volunteering in the community.

When To Move Into a Sober Living Home in California

Moving into a sober living home is recommended for persons who have completed a formal rehab program and need an environment to transition. Nevertheless, persons in treatment can still stay in these homes, especially individuals in outpatient rehab who want to avoid environmental triggers.
However, while sober living homes support complete recovery, it is not a replacement for rehab. California sober living homes are not treatment centers and do not offer professional treatment or care. These homes serve as essential support offering stable, safe, and affordable accommodation for persons in recovery.

Sober Living Programs vs. Halfway Houses in California

Sober living programs and halfway houses in California are similar in that they provide substance-free accommodation for persons recovering from substance misuse. They both aim to take off the pressures that could occur from a home environment by gently reintroducing its residents back to society to avoid a relapse.
Like sober living houses, halfway houses have structures, responsibilities, strict policies, supervision, and accountability for their residents. But despite their similarities, there are specific differences.

Entering the Program

For one, residents in a sober living home enter the facility willingly and, in most cases, may have just concluded a substance abuse treatment program. Conversely, a court or correctional facility may mandate that a person resides in a halfway house.

Leaving the Program

Furthermore, a resident may stay or leave a sober living home at will as there is no compulsory length of stay. In a halfway house, the residents may have a mandatory stay period. Leaving a halfway house before the end date can have severe consequences, especially if it is a court-imposed stay.

Attending Outside Treatment Programs

Residents in a California sober living home may still be attending an outpatient program or a 12-step meeting. Persons living in a halfway house cannot be involved in an external treatment or recovery programs outside the house's recommendations.


In addition, the government funds or owns some halfway houses in California. Instead, private individuals or treatment centers own sober living homes in the state.

Level of Comfort

Halfway houses tend to be more affordable than sober living homes because they are built like dorms, have less structure and privacy, have fewer amenities, and are usually congested. On the other hand, California sober living houses are typically private residences offering their occupants comfort, privacy, and better services. However, this convenience makes them an expensive option.

Types of California Sober Living Homes (Levels of Support)

Sober living homes in California provide different levels of care and support to their residents. The types of sober living homes in California include:

Halfway Houses

Halfway houses serve as a transitional housing facility for persons recovering from alcohol or drug abuse. Most persons in a halfway home have completed a drug treatment program during incarceration or are mandated to live there by court order. Generally, halfway houses put policies in place to keep their occupants sober. For instance, halfway houses carry out drug tests to ensure residents remain drug-free. Halfway houses also provide recovery, medical, and mental health services to its residents.

Transitional Housing

Transitional housing provides shelter for persons with mental health issues, homeless persons, or persons recovering from addiction. It is a temporary living condition designed to be a stop-gap, taking a person from homelessness to permanent accommodation. Transitional homes sometimes offer life skills training and education assistance for persons displaced due to drug addiction. It also provides structure, support, counseling, and supervision for persons dealing with a drug or substance addiction. It also provides a safe environment for its residents to address their addiction problems, overcome trauma, and rebuild their lives.

Recovery Houses

A recovery house is a peer-run, community-based, non-medical, and substance-free residence. Typically there is no paid staff in recovery houses, and all residents within that community support, encourage and motivate each other towards sustaining recovery. The occupants use the knowledge and skills learned during treatment to support each other to maintain sobriety.

Sober Housing

Sober housing provides a non-medical drug and alcohol-free residence for persons recovering from substance abuse disorder. Tenants in sober homes live by the house rules and participate in programs like the 12-step meeting.

The Phases of Sober Living in California

The phases of sober living in California based on the level of increasing independence include:

Restrictive or Abstinence Phase

This phase helps the person adjust to living with other people. The resident learns the basics of living sober, abstaining from drugs and alcohol, and adhering to the sober living home's rules while avoiding substance abuse triggers.
The resident focuses on living sober. Sober living houses encourage persons in this phase to attend therapy sessions, be actively involved in house chores, and attend peer support group sessions. This phase may last for up to a month.

Reintroduction Phase

In this phase, the individual takes on more responsibility daily to build stress tolerance while gaining more freedom, such as being allowed to return to school or work alone. Also, the sober living home may restore certain privileges such as leaving the house or riding the bus alone, reducing curfew and keeping personal belongings withheld during the first phase. Residents in this phase continue with support group meetings and therapy sessions.

Self-Sufficiency Phase

It is the last step before independent living. Residents become more accountable, take on more responsibilities, and make their own decisions. Although the resident still reports to sober living home staff in this phase, the individual gains complete independence.
Generally, residents must complete a 12-step program, attend group sessions, and must have been on the second phase for at least 30 days. After completing this phase, the individual can move into their residence and, in some instances, act as sponsors for new residents.

Sober Living Near Me in California

If you or a loved one struggling with addiction need to find a sober living home near you, call SAMHSA's helpline at (800) 662-4357. Your call is confidential. You can also use the SAMHSA's treatment locator to locate rehab programs that have been assessed and rated by independent specialists.