Sober Living Homes Vs. Halfway Houses—Is There a Difference?

Sober Living Homes Vs. Halfway Houses—Is There a Difference?

It’s easy to confuse the differences between sober living homes and halfway houses. They appear to be the same based on context and—in a sense—their purpose is pretty similar. Both institutions exist in the transitional phase of a person’s life but there are some very important distinctions between the two. The following are some histories, explanations, and distinctions for both halfway houses and sober living homes.

Halfway Houses

For some, a halfway house carries a negative connotation. But these transitional housing institutions are a stepping stone for many people looking to re-enter the general population. That being said, halfway houses certainly aren’t all negative but they aren’t all positive either. But let’s start with the history of halfway houses as they come from humble beginnings.


Halfway housing began in 18th century England as a misguided attempt at housing troubled and orphaned children that had committed crimes. So in the beginning, halfway houses were more of a catchall for children that the community didn’t know what to do with. Perhaps a bit of a disheartening concept, but this idea soon made its way to the United States where the application of the institution would shift into something more progressive. In America, halfway houses would be utilized as an extension of incarceration facilities as a means of criminal reformation.

Modern Application

Presently, halfway houses are still used to transition individuals from incarceration to independent living. In most cases, time in a halfway house is part of an incarcerated individual’s served sentence. Many modern facilities provide amenities and programs that help formerly incarcerated individuals build life and trade skills. These skills are necessary for successful reintegration into society. However, halfway houses remain very much a catchall for reforming felons, housing the homeless, and rehabilitating substance abusers. With such a broad spectrum of services, it’s hard to know what to expect from one halfway house to another.

Sober Living Homes

On the other hand, sober living homes generally have a more focused application, starting with the name. With sober living homes, there’s no guessing game about what type of facility you’re walking into or what spectrum of individuals the facility caters to. With more targeted care programs, sober living homes offer a sense of security in knowing exactly what they offer.


Sober living homes began in the 1830s as “sober hotels” usually affiliated with religious institutions like the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). These facilities naturally adhered to a very strict moral code. They often required residents to attend religious services as a part of treatment. As time progressed, sober living homes broadened to incorporate people from all walks of life. Especially as demand grew from WWII through the 1990s. First with a rise in alcoholism following the war, and then again with the opioid epidemic.

Modern Application

Currently, sober living homes offer a transitional space for people recovering from addiction. These facilities provide support for individuals looking to regain independence after a formal recovery program for substance abuse. Unlike halfway houses, sober living spaces are generally an optional aspect of aftercare for inpatient addiction treatment programs. A lot of sober living homes incorporate therapy into their treatment programs to better serve the needs of newly sober individuals.

Key Similarities and Differences

Admittedly, sober living homes and halfway houses have quite a few overlapping qualities and the terms remain largely interchangeable. Both establishments exist to transition individuals from a state of dependence to a state of independence by providing the tools necessary in achieving that goal. But halfway houses cater to a much broader scope than sober living homes do. Another key difference is that halfway houses are set up more like dorms with shared living spaces while sober living homes are likened to studio apartments.

Eudaimonia Sober Living Homes

Eudaimonia offers excellent recovery programs with tailored care. In these programs, individuals can develop positive coping skills with the tools necessary to maintain sobriety. Eudaimonia even provides tailored care based on gender and orientation. We also include supervised, short-term housing to provide support for newly sober individuals. But no matter where you are in your recovery, Eudaimonia Sober Living Homes can provide support every step of the way. We have facilities for sober living in Austin, Houston, and Colorado Springs ready to assist you in living your sober lifestyle. Call Eudaimonia Sober Living Homes at (888) 424 – 4029 for more information on the sober living process and current room availability.

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