Sober House NH

What is a Sober House?

A sober house, or halfway house, is an alcohol and drug free living environment for people in recovery. Sober houses provide an environment that is often essential to the recovery of a drug addict or alcoholic. A sober house promotes recovery by requiring residents to attend 12-step meetings, submit to random drug and alcohol screening, and become an active participant in his or her recovery from addiction.

A sober house provides structure for the recovering alcoholic or drug addict. Often, sober houses enforce curfews; require a resident to be involved in school, work, or outpatient treatment; do not allow overnight guests; and have zero tolerance for violence, drugs, and alcohol. The punishment for breaking rules can range from a financial penalty to expulsion from the sober house, depending on the offense. This structure can be essential for long term sobriety.

The benefits of living in a sober house in early recovery can be invaluable. Sober houses provide a safe, drug-free environment for the new in recovery. Living in a sober house with other people in recovery allows you to make friends with the same goals and issues as yourself. Your housemates provide you with support and understanding, which is crucial to success in recovery.

Need an Affordable Sober House? Call (603) 759-2895!

Sober houses also provide accountability. Residents are less likely to end up in situations that may lead to relapse because of the strict enforcement of rules. Many people find that when returning home or to living on their own after inpatient treatment can be very dangerous. It is easy to slip back into behaviors and habits that they practiced while using or drinking. This can be a step down the road to relapse for many addicts and alcoholics. Sober houses provide a nice interim step between inpatient treatment and independent living.

Living in a sober house can help teach a person important life skills that he or she may be lacking. Many recovering addicts and alcoholics must learn or re-learn how to live in order to recovery. Often, the lives of many addicts and alcoholics are completely out of control before they enter drug and alcohol addiction treatment. Sober houses teach addicts and alcoholics to become a functioning member of society. A sober house usually requires a resident to go to bed at a reasonable hour, get up and be active during the day, find gainful employment, and keep the residence clean and in good order. Also, living in close quarters with other people can teach respect, patience, and cooperation. Residents in a sober house also learn how to be financially responsible.

Spending a few months in a sober house can help a recovering alcoholic or drug addict gain the strength they need to re-enter society. Often, when a drug addict or alcoholic gets clean and sober, they have to change many things about themselves in order to maintain their sobriety. This could include changing jobs or eliminating relationships that are toxic. Sober housing provides a secure place to adjust to all these life changes. Living in a sober house gives the drug addict or alcoholic the opportunity to build new and healthy friendships and working relationships. A sober house allows the recovering alcoholic to learn tools that they will need to live a productive, alcohol and drug-free life.

This article was originally posted at

Need an Affordable Sober House? Call (603) 759-2895!

WELCOME HOME to Riverbank House, a unique and affordable option for men seeking recovery from addiction and self-destruction. Our quality residential experience, innovative enrichment programming, and collaborative approach to self-restoration are designed to offer vital support as you make your way through the 12-step recovery process and rediscover your enthusiasm for a life lived with clarity and purpose. Together — with guidance, structure, and common purpose — Riverbank House community members develop the spiritual, emotional, and physical practices essential to a full life of vibrant, sustainable addiction recovery.

Sober House

Sober Houses: Affordable Sober Living Meets the Promise of Profit

Sober Houses: Affordable Sober Living Meets the Promise of Profit

Sober Houses: An Extension of Long-Term Residential Addiction Rehab

Sober house, sober living environment (SLE), recovery residence, halfway house or three quarters house: whatever the “classification,” there is no doubt that alcoholics and drug addicts in their first years of recovery can and do benefit from safe, affordable, recovery-focused communal living as a continuation and progression of initial treatment. The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs in a 2010 article about sober houses notes that for the addict in early recovery “lack of a stable, alcohol and drug free living environment can be a serious obstacle to sustained abstinence. Destructive living environments can derail recovery for even highly motivated individuals.” i

You can read the article here at:

Sober houses, in theory, are designed to provide the stability and drug free living environment that keep recovery on course, especially when they build upon the gains made during long term residential treatment and after the minimum 90 days of drug rehab recommended by the Center for Disease Control ( ).ii

In fact, researchers editorializing in the article “A Clean and Sober Place to Live: Philosophy, Structure, and Purported Therapeutic Factors in Sober Living Houses,” published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, write that “sober living houses are an excellent example of an underutilized modality that could help provide clean and sober living environments to individuals completing residential treatment, engaging in outpatient programs, leaving incarceration, or seeking alternatives to formal treatment.”iii

You can read the article here at:

What Are Sober Houses?

Sober living houses are essentially specialized rooming houses that cater to clean addicts and sober alcoholics– outside the context of treatment.iv The best sober houses promote and require active attendance at 12-step meetings (such as AA), abstinence, accountability, and peer support. Every sober house or chain of sober houses is different, but common practices include house rules, shared bedrooms and shared bathrooms, conduct contracts, curfews, random or scheduled drug tests, and mandatory community meetings. Houses don’t actually require celibacy, but it can often feel like they do. Rent (which usually includes utilities but not food) is typically paid weekly, in advance, by each resident.

Sober Houses Are NOT the Place to Start Recovery

In the fall of 2010, a Suffolk County, New York mother helped her 19-year-old son move into a facility with a promising sounding description: a “sober home.”

But four months later, that son was dead.

He had overdosed on heroin—in a place where drugs and alcohol were supposed to be forbidden.

His mother thought she was sending him to a safe place to deal with his addiction, but as she navigated New York’s labyrinth of oversight agencies, she realized she had let her son move to a place where no one was watching out for him.

“I have to live with this every second of my life … when you hear ‘sober house,’ you think ‘sober,’ but it clearly wasn’t a safe environment,” she said.v

You can read more about her story here:

The loss of a child to addiction is a heartbreaking tragedy, too often exacerbated by the addiction industry’s habit of overselling its services. Sober houses are no exception. When promised a safe environment and accountability, we are given — or create for ourselves — the impression that a qualified person in a position of authority is watching out for Timmy or Joey once they enter a sober house.

The “safe environment” promised by the sober house industry sounds comforting without actually giving a definition of “safe.” Given the chronic, manipulative, relapsing, life-long nature of addiction, it might be more honest to admit that there will never be a truly safe external environment for our addict. Safety – through the practices of recovery – becomes an internal state that the alcoholic or addict must cultivate from within, over time, through a progression of treatment and support levels.

Do we misinterpret a sober house’s promise of “accountability” as an institutional promise of supervision? I think we do. Supervision is crucial in early recovery, but under supervision the addict is a passive participant; supervision is imposed upon him. Accountability requires active and willing participation from the addict. The imposed supports and structures so necessary to early sobriety evolve during long term residential treatment, becoming more flexible as the addict grows in recovery and attempts to handle greater responsibility and freedom. This progressive ability to handle responsibility and freedom develops over time, ideally over a long period of time in residential treatment. Sober houses are the final residential phase of recovery in that their very lack of supervision allows Timmy and Joey to gain experience in watching out for themselves, with the help and support of their peers, before venturing out into independent living.

Regardless of their affordability, sober houses are not the place to start recovery; they are the destination before independent living.

Purpose Meets Profits

According to Dr. Leonard A. Jason, director of the Center for Community Research at DePaul University, well-run sober homes can be a positive step for those trying to turn their lives around. “If it’s a really well-run sober living home, that house could be a place of real health,” says Jason. But he adds this caveat: “It can be done right, but it can just as easily be done very wrong.”

Across the country, the unregulated industry of sober homes is increasingly under scrutiny. After yet another sober house overdose in York County, Pennsylvania, Chief Deputy Prosecutor Dave Sunday started looking into the sober living industry, specifically the management. “A lot of them (owners) are doing this for a good cause. A lot of them are fantastic individuals who have goals in mind that are fantastic and they want to help people who want to recover from the addictions that they have.” The problem however, is that’s not always the case. “There are a lot of people out there who take advantage of individuals and their addictions,” Sunday says.

Jeff Christensen, director of the Sober Living Network in Southern California, says the idea of sober homes is supposed to be about helping addicts get back on their feet. “If you want to call this a business, that’s great.  We don’t.  We call it service to these people.  If we get back to the fundamentals of what this about, it’s a matter of life and death for the people who live there.”

Christensen says the problem is anyone can open up a sober home. And it’s almost impossible to shut the bad ones down. That’s because addicts are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“These bad landlords are clever,” Christensen says. “They’re going, ‘Hey, if I say I’m a sober living, I can hide behind federal protections.'”

The full article “Renting homes to recovering addicts, for a profit” by Sarah Gross can be accessed at:

On the opposite coast, substance abuse counselors explained to The Boston Globe that some sober homes provide a supportive transitional environment for recovering addicts, but others simply pursue profits, and their loose environment often tempt addicts to resume their habits.

“They’re really just boarding houses, and as long as you pay rent, they don’t care,’’ said Nicholas Tenaglia, program director of the Men’s Addiction Treatment Center in Brockton, Massachusetts.

You can access the full article, provocatively titled “Seeking help but finding a scam in sober homes,” here:

The booming sober house industry even translates into profits for sectors beyond addiction services. California realtor Brian Wall says the sale of properties suitable for conversion into sober homes has become a lucrative business for him. A single sale can net him up to $40,000. He says the perfect sober house has lots of bedrooms, and is far away from nosy neighbors.

A bed in San Fernando Valley costs as much as $500 a month, and when the house is full, the owner can net over $10,000 a month. Wall says this kind of money is attracting people to the sober home business.

Many sober house entrepreneurs are themselves in recovery, and they will tell you it’s not about the money. Cristofer Justin owns and manages six sober homes near San Diego.

“There’s such a demand and there’s such a need,” Justin says. “It’s a great opportunity to be of service.”

Wall sounds skeptical of “do-gooder” motivations, hypothesizing the mindset of his sober house buyers: “If I’m not doing it to make money, then why am I doing it?” Wall says. “If I’m doing it for passion, that’s great, but that doesn’t help me open up 10 houses.”

The sober house boom has become a national trend that is particularly robust on the East Coast. In Boston, The Dorchester Reporter summarized that “Initial concern over the operation of sober homes was triggered in early 2007 when residents in the Fort Hill section of Roxbury reported unruly activity around Safe Haven Sober Houses, a group of 11 townhouses that had been converted into sober housing where as many as 12 people were living in each unit, each of them paying about $140 a week.

Inspectional Service Department workers secured an administrative warrant to enter the home and found up to four residents living inside in a single bedroom, “packed like sardines,” one inspector told the paper. Other issues involved garages and basements being converted into additional bed space. From later court documents, it was estimated that Safe Haven owner David Perry was earning $14,000 a week, or about $725,000 a year, in rental fees from more than 100 residents.”

You can access the full article, “SPECIAL REPORT: At ‘sober homes,’ issues of safety inside, safeguards outside,” here at:

Cristofer Justin — the owner of the six houses in San Diego who wants to be of “service” — finds recovering addicts at local churches, probation and parole offices, and through ads on Craigslist.

Tenants pay him up to $500 for a single bed.

To be fair, while profits in the sober house business can be astronomical, expenses can be daunting. Scott McCann of the recovery website brings some balance to the discussion of profits: “I know that it is tempting to look at the rents per bed, per month and the number of beds per home and come to the conclusion that sober living must be a gold mine for the taking.” But, he explains, owners face myriad challenges that eat into profit. While the potential gross rental income is high, the reality is that uncollected rents (or empty beds) can run as high as 40%. Because turnover is high as residents relapse, quit, or progress in recovery and move on, marketing and recruitment of new tenants is an ongoing challenge. Utilities costs to cover a single family home occupied by 10-12 adults who have very little incentive to conserve can be exorbitant. Maintenance — directly linked to the successful recruitment of new tenants — is constant; the cost of cleaning, repairs, painting, normal wear and tear, as well as deliberate damage by residents gnaws at profits. Responsible staffing, neighbor complaints, building and zoning code concerns, insurance, accounting, and property taxes further burden operational budgets. More than 50% of new sober houses fail within the first three years.

Clearly, sober house living can be an affordable option for addicts in the process of rebuilding themselves from the inside out. And, clearly, sober houses can generate huge profits for their owners. Like most every aspect of life in recovery, a balance can be found somewhere between affordability and profitability if we ask the question: Does this sober house benefit the addict in his/her recovery? Benefit to the person in recovery – rather than benefit to the person in ownership — should always drive the conversation, the decision making, and the direction a family takes in choosing or continuing with a sober house.

But the most vital step in considering a sober house is this: DO NOT LEAVE LONG TERM RESIDENTIAL DRUG REHAB until you feel truly ready to assume responsibility for your own recovery program, your own sobriety, your own abstinence, your own safety, your own wellness. Be honest enough to speak up if you are not yet ready for the level of independence you will be allowed in a sober living house. Addiction treatment – and most especially sober housing – is an industry. You do not need to be a cog in that industry. Have the courage to do what is right for you, even if that means standing still.

Because every decision from here on out requires courage, and courage requires practice.

Republished with permission from “When We Love An Addict: The Cost of Addiction”

Copyright 2014 Kay Ryan




Choosing an Effective Sober House

Riverbank House provides a fully scheduled long term drug and alcohol rehab that will accommodate the 90 day minimum suggested by the CDC, followed by transitional options. But where do sober houses fit as a path to recovery? The following article gives one perspective.

Do Sober Houses Work?

An Approach to Choosing a Sober House

Once you’ve made the decision to investigate sober living options as an extension of long term residential drug and alcohol treatment that has lasted a minimum of 90 days, as recommended by the Center for Disease Control ( ), it can be helpful to recognize that too often we are fueled by hurried desperation as we try to find placement for the addict we love. If we can approach sober house placement as informed and empowered consumers there is less risk that desperation will cloud our judgment and certainly less risk that the addiction industry will take advantage of our vulnerability.

As we begin our investigation into sober living options there is no need to relinquish any advantage to the operators of sober housing. Sober housing is a booming industry that has created a buyer’s market for the consumer, and, realistically, we hold the advantage as we comparison shop. A quick illustration of the buyer’s market: there are at least 300 sober homes in Massachusetts, at least 160 sober homes in Connecticut, and at least dozens of sober houses in Vermont. Through word of mouth, advertisement, referral, or voluntary sober housing registries, finding a sober house isn’t the challenge. Acquiring the tools to assess quality sober housing takes some education, personal investigation, and a consumer’s mindset.

1. Adopt an Attitude of Empowerment

Addiction is an industry. We are its consumers. Yes, addiction is a chronic disease and yes it has often left us feeling helpless and powerless and quick to defer to medical professionals. But now, past the acute care stage of treatment, we are no longer the passive client or passive family. We are active consumers and advocates. ALWAYS ask yourself and the addict you love how a particular sober house will benefit the addict in his/her recovery. Benefit to the person in recovery – rather than benefit to the person in ownership — should always drive the conversation, the decision making, and the direction a family takes in choosing or continuing with a sober house.

2. Do Preliminary Research Online

  • With the sober house address in hand, check the Registry of Deeds in the county and state in which the home is located. Is the house in foreclosure? Are there liens on the property?
  • With address in hand, check the state’s sex offender registry. Are any sex offenders registered at that address? With the owner’s full name at hand, check to see if he/she is registered, perhaps at a home address that would be different from the sober house.
  • With the exact name of the sober house at hand, check the state and county court websites for any evidence of pending or resolved lawsuits connected to the sober house or its owner.
  • Check the city or town website in which the sober house is located. Are any violation of local ordinance on record? In some towns, if violations aren’t published online, a phone call might be required to access this information.

3. Interview the Owner/Director, in Person or Over the Phone

  • Does your organization have a Mission Statement or Philosophy?
  • Where do the majority of your residents come from? Detox, acute care, 28 day program, long-term treatment?
  • Is there an admissions assessment that gauges readiness for the level of independence allowed at the sober house?
  • Does the house have any kind of orientation process?
  • Who owns the property and how many other sober houses are owned?
  • How is the house staffed? Is staff available to the residents 24/7?
  • Do you have written job descriptions for staff that clearly outline the scope of responsibilities?
  • What percentage of active management or staff are in recovery?
  • (If the person you are interviewing discloses that he/she is in recovery) How have you stayed clean and sober?
  • If active management and staff are in recovery, what arrangements have been put in place should management or staff relapse?
  • Are drug tests random or scheduled?
  • Are house managers and directors also tested, regardless of whether or not they are in recovery?
  • What is your alcohol and drug free policy? Zero-tolerance or second chances?
  • Is there a written policy regarding relapse?

It might feel like overkill to ask if an alcohol and drug free house has a written policy about drug or alcohol use, but assume nothing. Sober houses vary widely in their policies and responses to relapse or possession. For instance, a Massachusetts chain of sober homes known as “Gianna’s House” folded and reopened under new management as Gateway House. Same address but widely divergent drug and alcohol policies implemented by the former and current managers.

Tiffany Jonas, former director at Gianna’s House, understands the struggles of recovery; a recovering heroin addict, she first became associated with Gianna’s House when she entered as a resident in 2009. As program director, Jonas took the approach of giving residents more privileges – such as overnight passes and fewer curfew restrictions – as they made progress, she said. She conducted drug screenings, but testing positive for drugs or alcohol did not necessarily mean a resident was thrown out.

“You’re housing a bunch of drug addicts; people are going to relapse,” Jonas said. “I would do whatever I felt would help them.” She goes on to explain that recovery is a very individualized process, which is hard for people outside the recovery community to understand. She believes relapse is part of the recovery process and throwing someone out for a single misstep could send them on a fatal binge.

On the other hand, with an eye toward community rather than the individual, Corey Pina, Executive Director of what is now Gateway House, runs the houses with a zero-tolerance policy, he said, because it encourages a safe, substance-free environment for everyone.

You can read the full article here at:

Regardless of whether the house you are investigating has a “relapse happens” or a “zero-tolerance” policy regarding the use of alcohol and drugs, it still makes sense to ask the following:

  • Do you have an ongoing relationship with a medical detox facility and will you help a resident enter detox in the case of relapse?
  • Do you have a written re-entry policy after relapse?
  • Is the house equipped with a defibrillator? Are staff trained in CPR? Is the house supplied with naloxone (brand name Narcan), an opioid antagonist that can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose?

Questions to ask about the more traditional tenant/landlord arrangement:

  • What is the rent? (Make sure you have confirmation on whether the answer is a weekly or monthly figure.)
  • Do you require a security deposit? What other fees are required and which are non-refundable? (For example, are there unexpected upfront fees such as a one-time facilities fee, an admissions processing fee, a background check fee?)
  • What is the rent increase policy or schedule?
  • Are utilities included? Is food?
  • What is the maximum occupancy per bedroom and do changes in occupancy affect rent?
  • Are there length of stay minimums or maximums?

Questions to ask about house policies, which should all be in writing:

  • Does the house have a non-aggression, anti-violence policy?
  • What are the visitation policies?
  • Does the house allow for overnight leaves? For instance, can residents be away overnight to visit with family?
  • Does the house have a Good Neighbor Policy?
  • Does the house take a position on medication? What policies or restrictions are in place for medication? For example, does the house allow assisted addiction treatment (methadone maintenance), psychotropic medications, prescription medication, over-the-counter medications?
  • How are house rules documented and distributed? Are they posted?

If applicable to your situation:

  • Does the house take a position on or have policies to address co-occurring disorders? For example, mental illness, PTSD, behavioral addictions such as gambling?
  • Does the house have a personal vehicle policy?
  • What are your policies regarding communication with family? Is staff available to talk with family?

4. Make an on-site visit of the facility

If, after your internet research and interview, you are still interested in this particular sober house option, arrange for an on-site tour of the facility. NEVER sign an agreement with a sober house without first visiting the property.

While visual proof is often the most reliable, do not hesitate to ask about what you do not see. Things to look for and questions to ask yourself on-site:

  • Does the neighborhood appear to be safe? For instance, is there a liquor store across the street?
  • Is the address clearly visible at both the front and rear entrance to the property (for emergency personnel)?
  • Is the house clean and in a good state of repair?
  • Is there ample common space in which all resident can gather?
  • Are results of local building and fire code inspections posted?
  • Are emergency procedures posted throughout the house?
  • Is there a working smoke detector in every bedroom and on every level?
  • Is there one working bathroom for every six residents?
  • Does the house have a first aid kit, a carbon monoxide detector, and fire extinguishers?
  • Does the house have X-box? Internet?
  • Does the house have laundry facilities?

The three quirky investigations:

  • Make a cell phone call from the house on the potential tenant’s phone. Coverage by cell phone carriers varies widely. A lack of carrier cell coverage at the house means limited communications with family or the expense of a new phone plan.
  • Look in the refrigerator. I don’t know what you will find there, but a refrigerator can tell you a lot about the community and cooperation within a house. Anything green should be edible. Milk should be dated sometime this year. The temperature controls should be adequate. A six pack of non-alcoholic beer should be cause for concern. The odor of dead fish should get your attention. Don’t ask to look in the refrigerator; just do it.
  • Who buys the toilet paper? Is there toilet paper?

And finally, the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, in its March 2006

Fact Sheet titled “Alcohol- and Drug-Free Housing (Sober Living)” recommends that “There is a rental agreement for each resident, signed by the owner, representative, or landlord, and the resident, that shows clearly the amount of any deposit, refund policy, rent payment schedule, policy on return of rent if a person leaves, and housekeeping duties.”

Just on the Issue of Toilet Paper Alone

Does this list make you feel like you would come across as an obsessive pain in the butt? As too pushy? As too picky? As an irritation? When we are dealing with the addiction industry it is easy slip back into a passive mode and to forget that benefit to the person in recovery – rather than benefit to the person in ownership — should always drive the conversation, the decision making, and the direction a family takes in choosing or continuing with a sober house.

And keep in mind that you are looking at a group home for alcoholics and addicts in recovery. Just on the issue of toilet paper alone I can promise you that residents have you beat in terms of being pushy, picky, irritating, vocal, and obsessive about any pain in their butt. If the house management can’t handle a visit from a pushy, picky, irritating, obsessive pain in the tush, then the management in this particular sober house lacks the skill to deal fulltime with multiple addicts in early recovery. And that’s what you set out to investigate.

Republished with permission from “When We Love An Addict: The Cost of Addiction”

Copyright 2014 Kay Ryan