How to Start a Sober Living Home
Everything you need to know to open a sober living home
Rooms Available Today.
Returning to daily life after completing a drug or alcohol rehab program can be extremely challenging, especially for someone who lacks stable, substance-free housing. The early stages of recovery are often full of challenges, such as finding a job, establishing a sober community, and dealing with all the stress and anxiety of daily life.
Research has found that only one in three people who have been sober for less than a year will remain sober indefinitely. After a year of sobriety, the number of people who maintain their sobriety increases to 50 percent and just 15 percent relapse after 15 years of sobriety.1
Even people who are highly motivated and committed to staying sober often struggle in early sobriety if they don’t have the right support. As a chronic disease, addiction can be difficult to treat, but it’s certainly not hopeless. Sober living homes and peer recovery support services are excellent and effective weapons against relapse and they can help people sustain long-term sobriety, despite the challenges.
In 2018, about 20.3 million Americans over the age of 12 had a substance use disorder, including 14.8 million addicted to alcohol and 8.1 million addicted to illegal drugs.2 Based on this information alone, it’s clear that the need for safe, sober housing won’t be going away anytime soon.
What is a Sober Living Home?
Some people relapse after treatment because they are unable to cope with life in an unsupportive environment. A sober living home can make this transition easier. Sober living homes are alcohol and drug-free living environments that provide structured, transitional housing for men and women in recovery.
To address many of the socioeconomic challenges people face in the early stages of recovery, sober living homes also offer recovery support services to establish accountability and help residents overcome common obstacles like finding a job or building a sober community.
Examples of recovery support services include:
- Employment assistance
- Drug and alcohol testing
- Educational planning
- Structured recovery programming
- Peer-monitoring programs
Research also shows that residents who are enrolled in IOP or outpatient treatment while living at a sober living home are more likely to experience positive results, such as sustained sobriety, employment, and the development of supportive peer relationships.3
Additionally, sober living residents must follow certain community rules and expectations that are enforced by the house management. Common rules at sober living homes include:
- Maintaining a sober lifestyle
- Making curfew every night
- Maintaining a living environment that is safe, clean, and welcoming
- Avoiding all inappropriate, violent, and/or sexual contact with other residents
- Having all guests and visitors approved by the appropriate staff member(s)
- Paying rent and covering other personal expenses
It’s also important to note that sober living homes and halfway houses are not the same. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, halfway houses are typically government-funded and have limitations on how long a resident can live there. Comparatively, sober living residents can stay as long as needed, provided that they adhere to the household rules and expectations, pay rent, and cover their personal expenses.
How to Open a Sober Living Home: A Complete Guide
If you are an individual or a group who would like to start a sober living home in your community, Eudaimonia Recovery Homes is here to help. We successfully own and operate several sober living homes in Texas and Colorado that are adequately serving the needs of men and women who are recovering from addiction.
Aside from sharing our professional experience and expertise with you, we also offer individual business and operational support, with the added benefit of our all-encompassing Sober Living Manager app. Our app makes it easy for you to operate, manage, and monitor your sober living home from your desktop in the comfort of your own home or even as you travel!
If you’re just getting started, here is a basic overview of the steps you will need to take to successfully start a sober living home in your community.
- Conduct a need analysis.
First, you will need to systematically evaluate your current state as well as your vision for your sober living home in the future. This includes identifying priorities, organizational processes, and necessary resources to meet the needs of staff and residents. You may also need to seek professional guidance to address related issues, such as determining the best location, pricing, and promotion strategies, obtaining the proper insurance policy and coverage to protect the home in case of an insurance claim or loss, and evaluating the overall potential financial and operational performance of the sober living home.
- Make a business plan.
Make a business plan to identify your goals and streamline the process of opening your sober living home. You will want to write down your company name, mission, description and services, determine what type of residence you will purchase or rent, how many residents you will accommodate at any given time, and what services you will provide. You will also want to study and analyze any other sober living homes nearby to determine what works (and what doesn’t work) and determine how you will make your sober living home stand out from the competition.
Other important aspects of developing a sober living home business plan include the following:
- Calculate your overhead costs.
Make a list of all the costs associated with opening your sober living home. This should include the rent or mortgage payment for the home, utilities, staff salaries, furniture, internet, cable, appliances, and any other expenses you will need to pay to ensure your sober living home is ready for residents. After compiling this list, establish a budget for your operation and determine how much you will need to charge sober living residents. Keep in mind that this will vary based on location and many clients will need affordable sober housing to get back on their feet after rehab.
- Research zoning laws in the area where the home will be located.
Local zoning laws regulate the use of land and the structures built on it. These laws will determine whether an existing property such as a residential home can be repurposed. Sober living homes that offer clinical services on-site are typically not zoned as ordinary housing in residential neighborhoods, so researching zoning laws in the area where the home will be located is an important step that will help eliminate potential issues along the way.
Most sober living homes are located in residential neighborhoods. As a result, sometimes owners face opposition from long-time residents of the neighborhood who argue that having a sober living home nearby makes the area less safe. Such claims are false and sober living residents are legally protected against NIMBY (not in my back yard) discrimination from neighbors or even city officials who don’t want recovering people living nearby. According to the Federal Fair Housing Act, it is illegal to discriminate against people based on their disability or mental health condition, including substance use disorders.4 Aside from zoning, you may also want to choose a location that is within walking distance of:
- Bus stations and public transportation options
- 12-Step meetings and other community support group meetings
- Grocery stores
- Laundry facilities (if the residence does not have a washer or dryer)
- Community colleges/universities
- Establish resident criteria.
Determine who your sober living home will be tailored to serve. Will it be men only? Women only? Co-ed or LGBTQ? Will you offer pet-friendly accommodations? If you decide to open a co-ed sober living home, know that special rules and considerations will need to be made to ensure a welcoming and comfortable environment for all.
- Hire a house manager.
Choose a house manager of the appropriate gender who will help you run the sober living house. Generally, a house manager is responsible for observing and monitoring residents of the sober living home and facilitating house meetings and group activities. He or she will also live on-site at the facility with the residents. A man or woman in recovery with at least six months to one year of continuous sobriety may be an excellent choice for this position. As you determine what his or her salary will be, you may want to consider including free or reduced-price lodging and meals, as this is a common practice.
- Write a policy handbook.
Prepare a policy handbook for your sober living home to set the standard for residents’ rights and responsibilities. This should include things like a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol, admission requirements, house meeting attendance and program requirements, expectations for regular drug and alcohol testing, as well as household rules and expectations. When you open your sober living home and begin housing people in recovery, it’s best to have each resident review and sign the policy handbook upon admission and give them a copy to keep.
- Establish a filing system for tax purposes.
Establish a functional way to file away all documentation of your business expenses, income records, mileage, and receipts to make filing taxes less stressful. Many people use an online bookkeeping program and/or a desktop filing system with labeled folders. You may feel confident doing this on your own or you may want to consider hiring an accountant to handle your filing system to avoid any legal issues in the future.
Although there are a lot of details to consider when starting a sober living home in your community, the professional team at Eudaimonia Recovery Homes can make the process easier. By lending you our expertise and giving you access to our robust and scalable Sober Living Manager app, we can help empower you to start your own sober living home successfully. Please call (512) 363-5914 for details on how to get started.
Licensing and Regulations
According to Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 464, any facility providing substance abuse treatment services must be licensed by the Texas Department of State Health Services Department, except for faith-based chemical dependency treatment programs offering non-medical recovery services.5 However, since most sober living homes don’t provide medical or therapeutic care on-site, licensure is not typically required.
In Texas, sober living homes are not required to be licensed, but they can voluntarily request a license. Doing so can help ensure that sober housing is regulated and residents are treated fairly.
Statewide requirements for Texas sober living homes are also designed to protect sober living residents. According to the Texas Administrative Code, requirements for Texas sober living homes include:6
- The facility must comply with federal laws outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- The facility must have a certificate or documentation of occupancy as required by local laws.
- The facility must be structurally sound, safe, clean, and free from health and safety hazards.
- The facility must have adequate supplies, space, and furniture for all residents.
- The facility must have a private space for individual and/or group counseling.
- No alcohol or drug use is allowed on the facility’s property. Tobacco smoking is only allowed in designated outdoor areas.
- No firearms or illegal activities are allowed on the facility’s property.
- Any religious leaders requiring alcohol for communion or other religious services are only permitted to bring four ounces or less of alcohol on-site.
- All animals on-site must be properly vaccinated and supervised.
Aside from following these regulations, if you’d like to establish your sober living home as a high-quality service provider, you can also complete a certification program through The Joint Commission or one of the National Alliance for Recovery Residences’ (NARR) affiliates, such as the Texas Recovery-Oriented Housing Network (TROHN).7 TROHN certifies recovery residences to the national standard, provides a grievance process for residents, publishes a directory of certified residences, and advocates for fair housing rights.
Quality Standards of Sober Living Homes
Seeking certification through TROHN demonstrates your commitment to providing outstanding care and excellence in every aspect of your services and business practices. If you register as a sober living home in the TROHN network, you are expected to adhere to the following quality standards of recovery residences.8 Your sober living home must:
- Be guided by a mission and vision
- Adhere to legal and ethical codes and be financially honest and forthright
- Collect data for continuous quality improvement
- Operate with prudence
- Communicate right and requirements before agreements are signed
- Promote self and peer advocacy
- Support housing choice
- Protect privacy
- View recovery as a person-driven, holistic and lifelong process
- Be culturally responsive, harmonious, and/or competent
- Involve peers in governance and use peer staff and resident leaders in meaningful ways
- Maintain resident and staff leadership based on recovery principles
- Create and sustain an atmosphere of recovery support that is physically and emotionally safe, secure, respectful and free of drugs and alcohol
- Ensure staff members are appropriately trained and credentialed
- Provide support staff supervision
- Encourage residents to own their own recovery
- Inform residents about community-based supports
- Offer recovery support services in informal and formal settings
- Offer clinical services per state law
- Cultivate structure, accountability, and promote meaningful daily activities
- Create a “functionally equivalent family”
- Foster ethical peer-based mutually supportive relationships between residents and/or staff
- Connect residents to the local recovery community
- Create a home-like environment that promotes community and safety
- Have an emergency plan and courtesy rules
- Be compatible with the neighborhood and respond to neighbor complaints
Choosing the Right Sober Living Home
When residents do their research to choose a sober living home, six main factors will influence their decision to either enroll in a program or not.
Is your sober living home credible, safe, and trustworthy? Factors like licensing, certification, a strong staff and support team, regular inspections, and/or great customer reviews will help you build your case and attract new residents.
Clients and their families want rules and structure that will maintain an orderly sober living home and maintain accountability among all residents. Sober living home rules that are honest, fair and that display cultural competency go a long way to help residents feel safe, comfortable, and supported in all aspects of their recovery.
- Admission criteria
Standard admission requirements ensure that all residents move into the home with accurate expectations and that they clearly understand that ongoing sobriety is not negotiable. Requiring an admission application for every resident also allows you to determine if the resident would be a good fit for your sober living home. This promotes a peaceful and harmonious environment in which residents share similar goals and get along.
Many residents will need sober housing that is within walking distance of grocery stores, employment opportunities, public transportation, and community support groups. Keeping the exterior and interior appearance of the home looking nice, as well as ensuring that it is safe, clean, and well-maintained will also attract potential residents to your sober living home.
The price of rent for sober living varies greatly based on the home’s location, amenities, and services provided. Charging a fair price is ideal, especially since many residents will be coming straight out of rehab and may need help finding employment to get back on their feet.
Providing recovery support services like drug and alcohol testing, employment assistance, educational planning, volunteer placement, recovery programming, and a peer-monitoring program can enhance your residents’ experience at your sober living home by providing additional value and support during a challenging life transition.
Considering these six factors and working to improve them can help you establish excellent rapport with residents and community members.
Eudaimonia Recovery Homes offers sober living homes for men and women in Houston, Austin, and Colorado Springs with a variety of recovery support services designed to help residents develop a stable and long-lasting life in recovery.
How to Promote and Market Your Sober Living Home
As you work to establish your sober living home, it is best to leverage all marketing tools available to you. Setting yourself apart from the competition with a creative and compelling story and mission, and highlighting any previous related success will improve your odds of gaining the trust and business of potential clients within your community.
There are many different strategies you can use to promote and advertise your sober living home, such as:
- Using internet marketing tools and advertisements
- Creating a website for your sober living home and using effective strategies that will increase traffic to it
- Promoting your sober living home via social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc.
- Investing in advertisements for local newspapers, TV, and radio stations
- Creating brochures and pamphlets to distribute to related organizations and businesses such as hospitals, recovery-related clubs and organizations, colleges and universities, hospitals, etc.
- Providing incentives for word-of-mouth referrals
- Listing your sober living home in local directories (online and print)
- Networking with other local professionals and organizations
- Sponsoring community events
- Providing staff members with branded uniforms, vehicles, etc. to increase brand recognition
- Hiring marketing experts and professionals to promote your sober living home services for you
Join Our Network and Let Us Help You Open and Run Your Own Sober Living House
Eudaimonia Recovery Homes has successfully owned and operated sober living homes for men and women in recovery since 2009. Our mission is to provide safe, clean, and sober environments where clients can thrive in recovery. We also provide a wide range of recovery support services designed to make the transition from rehab to sober life much smoother.
By addressing the common challenges people face in recovery and providing affordable sober housing, we have helped countless individuals take hold of a fresh start and live a happier, healthier life.
If you’re ready to start a sober living home of your own, consider joining the exceptional Eudaimonia team. Our Sober Living Manager app is available on the Apple Store and Google Store. During our in-depth onboarding process, we will show you how to set it up in order to successfully run your sober living house. Contact us today to see how we can help you open your own sober living house.
Take Action Today
We Are Ready to Assist You
Call us now and begin healing at (512) 363-5914 or you can fill out the form below and we will contact you shortly.
Or text us and we will call you right back.
- Why Choose Eudaimonia for Your Sober Living Experience?
- Recovery-Focused Lifestyle
- Individualized Care
- Homes for Everyone
- On-Site Support Staff
- Family Support