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Halfway Houses for Alcoholism: Definition, Benefits, and Effectiveness

Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 6/25/2023

Navigating the journey to recovery from alcoholism is a significant undertaking that doesn’t end with the completion of an initial treatment program. One crucial step often included in this journey is transitioning into a halfway house. Halfway houses, sometimes known as sober living homes, provide a structured, supportive environment for individuals who are continuing their recovery journey. 

These facilities play a pivotal role in easing the transition from the intensely supportive environment of a rehab center to the autonomy of everyday life. This article explores the nature of halfway houses, their effectiveness, what to expect when living in one, and financial considerations, providing a comprehensive overview for those considering this step in their recovery.

Read on to learn more about halfway houses for alcoholism below.

What is a Halfway House?

A halfway house is a transitional living facility where individuals who are recovering from addiction or other issues can continue their recovery process. Typically, residents come to a halfway house after completing a residential treatment program. Halfway houses provide a structured environment and often include requirements such as attending therapy sessions, getting a job, attending school, and abstaining from substance use.

What is a Halfway House for Alcoholics? 

A halfway house for alcoholics is a residential program designed specifically for individuals recovering from alcoholism. These facilities provide a sober, supportive environment where residents can transition from an intensive treatment program to independent living. They are allowed to develop recovery skills, rebuild relationships, find employment, and reintegrate into the community while still receiving support and supervision.

What is a Halfway House for Drug Addicts? 

Similar to a halfway house for alcoholics, a halfway house for drug addicts provides structured, transitional housing for individuals recovering from drug addiction. The focus is on maintaining sobriety, learning skills needed for daily sober living, finding employment, and connecting with supportive community resources and recovery networks.

What is a Halfway House for Inmates?

A halfway house for inmates, also known as a re-entry program, helps people transitioning out of prison reintegrate into society. These programs provide residents with a structured living environment, assistance finding employment, education opportunities, and therapy or counseling services, aiming to reduce recidivism and support a successful transition back into the community.

Learning about the types of halfway houses is a great start but it’s also important to understand the benefits of these homes.

What are the Benefits of a Halfway House?

Halfway houses offer numerous benefits for individuals on the path to recovery from alcoholism. They provide a safe and structured environment that encourages sobriety while allowing residents to gradually reintegrate into society. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Continued Structure and Support
  • Peer support
  • Reduced risk of relapse
  • Increased independence
  • Access to support services

Learn more about each benefit below.

Continued Structure and Support

One of the main advantages of a halfway house is the continuation of structure and support that was started in treatment. Residents typically have a set of rules to follow, regular group meetings to attend, and chores to perform. This structure helps individuals to establish healthy routines and habits, which are vital for maintaining long-term sobriety.

Peer Support

Living with others who are also in recovery can provide invaluable peer support. Residents can share experiences, learn from each other, and provide mutual encouragement, which can significantly enhance the recovery process. When it comes to maintaining long-term sobriety, especially with alcoholism, having peers around you who are committed to the same goal is helpful.

Reduced Risk of Relapse

The risk of relapse is often highest immediately after leaving a treatment program, which is why halfway houses for alcoholism are known as transitional living programs. By providing a sober and supportive environment, halfway houses can significantly reduce this risk. They also often require regular drug and alcohol tests, which can serve as a deterrent to substance use. Halfway houses also group you with peers to ensure that you’re building a natural support network.

Increased Independence

While halfway houses provide structure and rules, they also encourage independence, preparing residents for life after leaving the house. Residents are usually required to work or look for work, manage their finances, and take care of their daily living tasks. This helps them to build the skills and confidence necessary for independent living.

Access to Support Services

Many halfway houses offer or coordinate additional support services for residents, such as counseling, job search assistance, and educational resources. This can help residents to address other aspects of their life that may have been affected by their addiction, thereby enhancing their overall recovery.

In summary, the benefits of a halfway house are numerous and can play a significant role in supporting an individual’s journey to recovery and the prevention of relapse. This environment offers an excellent bridge between the intensive support of inpatient treatment and the full autonomy of returning home, helping individuals to secure the gains they have made in treatment and build a foundation for long-term sobriety.

What To Expect at a Halfway House 

While specifics vary depending on the facility, generally, residents can expect to live in a shared, structured, and substance-free environment. They will have responsibilities such as chores and may be required to find employment or attend school. Ongoing therapy or counseling, both individual and group, is typically part of the program. Rules and expectations are enforced to maintain a stable, recovery-focused environment.

What Staff Members Work for Halfway Houses for Alcoholism?

The staff at a halfway house can vary depending on the size and focus of the facility but typically include medical and social workers. Below we list some of the most common staff members you’ll find in a halfway house.

  • House Manager or Director: This person oversees the daily operations of the house, enforces the rules, and ensures the safety and well-being of all residents.
  • Counselors or Therapists: These professionals provide therapeutic support to residents. They may conduct group therapy sessions, offer individual counseling, and provide guidance in recovery.
  • Support Staff: This may include administrative personnel, maintenance staff, and kitchen staff who help with the day-to-day running of the facility.
  • Residential Advisors or Assistants: These staff members provide support and supervision to the residents. They often live on-site and help enforce house rules and guidelines.
  • Case Managers or Social Workers: These professionals work with residents to develop personalized treatment plans and connect them with community resources, such as job training or educational opportunities.
  • Medical Personnel: Depending on the specific needs of the residents, a halfway house may have nurses, doctors, or psychiatrists on staff or on call to address any physical or mental health concerns.

All staff members at a halfway house play a crucial role in supporting residents during their recovery journey and ensuring a safe, structured, and therapeutic environment.

Can You Bring a Phone to a Halfway House?

Policies regarding personal belongings, including phones, can vary significantly from one halfway house to another. Some halfway houses allow residents to bring and use their phones, but they may have rules regarding when and where phones can be used to ensure they do not interfere with the house’s program or other residents’ recovery. In other cases, personal phones might not be allowed at all, especially in the early stages of residency, to limit potential distractions and triggers. Before entering a halfway house, it’s important to ask about their specific policies regarding phones and other personal items.

Can You Leave a Halfway House?

Generally, residents are allowed to leave a halfway house during the day for approved activities, such as work, school, therapy appointments, or 12-step meetings. However, they are usually expected to adhere to a curfew in the evenings for the safety and stability of the residential community. Leaving the premises without approval or violating curfew may result in consequences, as all residents must respect the rules of the house. Over time, as residents demonstrate responsibility and progress in their recovery, they may earn more privileges or flexibility.

Can People Visit the Halfway House?

Most halfway houses do allow visitors as a way to encourage the continuation of healthy relationships and support networks. However, there are typically strict rules regarding visitation. Visitors are generally required to schedule their visits in advance, and visits usually must occur during specific visiting hours. Visitors may also be required to attend a family program or orientation, where they learn about the house’s rules and the expectations for their behavior during their visit. 

Some halfway houses may also have rules about who can visit, to ensure that the visitors will not disrupt the recovery environment. For example, individuals who are actively using substances or have a negative influence on the resident may not be permitted to visit. As with other policies, it’s crucial to ask about visitation rules before entering a halfway house.

What are the Rules of Halfway Houses?

The exact rules can vary from one halfway house to another, there are some common regulations that residents are typically expected to follow. We outline some of the most common rules for halfway houses for alcoholism below.

  • Abstinence from drugs and alcohol
  • Curfew
  • Participation in house meetings and therapy 
  • Completion of chores
  • Employment, education, or volunteer work
  • Respect for others
  • Visitation rules

Abstinence from Drugs and Alcohol

This is generally the most important rule in any halfway house. To maintain a sober environment, residents must abstain from alcohol and illicit drug use. Random drug tests are often conducted to ensure this rule is followed. Failure to comply with drug tests or abstinence will cause someone to lose their spot in the halfway house.


Most halfway houses have a curfew to ensure that residents maintain a regular schedule and are not out late at night. This can help to prevent relapse and encourage a healthy lifestyle. Curfew times vary depending on the halfway house but it’s usually in the later hours of the evening. There may also be exceptions for work, education, or volunteer work.

Participation in House Meetings and Therapy 

Residents are usually required to attend regular house meetings, as well as individual and/or group therapy sessions. This is a vital part of the recovery process. House meetings are held by staff members at the halfway house. Otherwise, staff members from local support groups or alcohol rehabs will visit the premise to provide counsel.

Completion of Chores

To promote responsibility and a sense of community, residents are often assigned chores around the house, like cleaning communal areas or cooking meals. Chores are assigned by staff members and staff members will check to see the progress of chores. Individuals who don’t complete chores may be assigned more as a punishment or asked to leave the halfway house.

Employment, Education, or Volunteer Work

Depending on the stage of recovery, residents may be required to work, attend school, or engage in volunteer activities during the day. When making money from employment a portion of that money is usually used for paying rent. People who are in school or volunteering may have less of a financial burden. Still, most recovering alcoholics need to maintain some semblance of responsibility to remain in a halfway house.

Respect for Others

Halfway houses emphasize a supportive, respectful community environment. This includes respecting other residents’ privacy and belongings, keeping noise levels down, and treating others with kindness and respect. Depending on the people living in the halfway house, different versions of this rule may apply. The best thing to do is to listen to peers and abide by some of their rules.

Visitation Rules

As previously discussed, most halfway houses have specific rules regarding visitors to ensure a stable, supportive environment. In most cases, family members can visit a halfway house to support a recovering alcoholic. Friends and other people may also visit. Ultimately, it depends on the person’s background and they might have to be approved by the staff members at the halfway house.

Violating these rules can have consequences, ranging from loss of privileges to expulsion from the house. These rules are designed to create a safe, structured environment that supports residents in their recovery journey.

How Effective Are Halfway Houses for Alcoholism?

Multiple studies have indicated the effectiveness of halfway houses. They provide a supportive environment that eases the transition from rehab to the community, which has been associated with reduced relapse rates and improved outcomes in terms of employment and reduced criminal behavior.

Below we list some of the most effective aspects of halfway houses for alcoholism.

  • Reduction in substance abuse
  • Lower rates of recidivism
  • Improved employment and educational outcomes
  • Improved social functioning
  • Mental health support

Reduction in Substance Use

Halfway houses can provide a structured and supportive environment that promotes sobriety. A study published in the “Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment” found that residents of halfway houses were less likely to relapse into substance use. The study found that having peer support improves the chances of people maintaining long-term sobriety. Furthermore, having mental health professionals around in the home makes therapy more readily available.

Lower Rates of Recidivism

For those coming from a correctional facility, halfway houses can provide a gradual transition back into society, which can reduce rates of reoffending. A study from the “Journal of Offender Rehabilitation” found that inmates who were released to halfway houses had significantly lower recidivism rates compared to those released directly into the community. This also applies to people who have been in rehab for several months or years.

Improved Employment and Educational Outcomes

Halfway houses often provide job training, educational programs, and other resources to help residents improve their employment prospects and educational attainment, which can contribute to a more stable, self-sufficient life in recovery. Getting someone into a job can give them work experience to get hired for a better job once their time in a halfway house concludes. This also applies to education and volunteer work.

Improved Social Functioning

Living in a halfway house can help individuals develop healthier social networks and improve their interpersonal skills, both of which can contribute to long-term recovery. When people live together it’s easier to build bonds and develop relationships. Doing so helps people maintain long-term sobriety because of extended peer support.

Mental Health Support

For those with co-occurring mental health issues, halfway houses can provide much-needed support and access to mental health services. Having therapists and counselors makes it easier for recovering alcoholics to open up about addiction. Group therapy sessions also make it easier for everyone to bond with one another. These bonds can help people maintain long-term sobriety.

While halfway houses are effective, it’s important to note that the effectiveness of halfway houses can depend on various factors, including the quality of the program, the commitment of the individual to their recovery, and the level of support they receive from the staff and their fellow residents. Despite these variables, the overarching consensus in the scientific community is that halfway houses can be an effective component of a comprehensive approach to treating alcoholism and other substance use disorders.

How Much Does a Halfway House Cost?

Halfway houses can range from as little as $300 per month up to $2000 per month or more. The cost of living in a halfway house can vary widely, depending on factors like location, services provided, and whether it’s a private or government-funded facility. How well-funded a halfway house is may also impact the cost of the program. The type of halfway house will also influence the cost. For example, an inmate halfway house may be more affordable than a halfway house for alcoholism.

Does Insurance Cover a Halfway House for Alcoholism? 

Whether insurance covers a halfway house can depend on the individual’s insurance policy and the specific halfway house. Some insurance policies may cover part or all of the costs, while others may not cover any of the costs. It’s always best to check with your insurance provider for specifics. Always check with your insurance provider to see if they will cover the cost of alcohol rehab.

Are Halfway Houses Free?

No, halfway houses usually aren’t free.While most halfway houses charge rent, some offer free or low-cost housing, particularly those that are government-funded or run by non-profit organizations. These facilities typically have more limited availability and may have specific eligibility criteria that residents must meet.

What are the Other Treatments for Alcoholism?

Several treatment modalities are available for alcoholism. Below we list the most common alcoholism treatment options.

Alcoholism treatment should always be provided by a professional. Make sure you speak with a healthcare provider before selecting any treatments for alcoholism.

Find Help for Alcoholism Today

Alcoholism treatment is available across the United States. Wherever you are there is help right around the corner. Connect with us today and consider our verified network of alcohol rehabs to find the best halfway houses near you. Furthermore, consider all of your treatment options and get in contact with an alcoholism specialist today when you call our hotline.


  • Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment
  • Journal of Offender Rehabilitation
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration