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The Difference Between Sober Living and Halfway Houses

Getting treated for a substance use disorder through a professional program is an excellent step in the process of getting sober and maintaining recovery. However, when the program is completed, some individuals still require external structure as they make their way back into everyday life. This is completely normal, as many people in recovery “step-down” from one level of care to another prior to being fully on their own. This can take time, but it is a necessity for those who can benefit from it. Sober living homes and halfway houses are two options for this type of extended care. When the time comes to start making a decision regarding the next steps, individuals might start wondering what the benefits are regarding sober living vs. halfway houses. 

What is a Halfway House?

Halfway houses are considered transitional living facilities where those who have already completed a treatment program can reside while still new in their recovery. It is common for residents of a halfway house to come from prison, homelessness, or are court-ordered to be there. That does not mean that people who have not faced these challenges cannot attend a halfway house. Technically, anyone who is in recovery can reside at a halfway house. 

Those who live in a halfway house must agree to follow specific rules during their stay. These rules include the following curfew, taking breathalyzer/drug tests, attending group meetings, and more. If an individual cannot abide by those rules, they will be asked to leave. Many Knoxville halfway houses accept insurance, which can cover the rent that is required while living there. 

What is a Sober Living Home?

Sober living homes serve the same purpose as halfway houses in that they are designed to help individuals develop a strong footing in their recovery prior to immersing themselves back into the real world. When considering sober living vs. halfway houses, there are certainly a few differences to be aware of.

A sober living home is also a transitional living facility where individuals in recovery can strengthen their recovery, just as a halfway house is. However, sober living homes do not have as large of a population of individuals with a criminal background or who have experienced homelessness or other adversities in life. Sober living homes often provide more structure and opportunity than halfway homes, including helping individuals find employment, locate housing for when they are ready to move out of sober living, and assist in the therapeutic aspects of their continued recovery. When considering sober living vs. halfway houses, it is important for individuals to weigh their options as well as carefully evaluate their needs at this point in their lives. 

Benefits of Sober Living in Tennessee

There are often many questions regarding sober living vs. halfway houses, however, generally speaking, they are quite similar. They are so similar that the two terms are commonly interchanged with one another. And despite the few differences that they have, sober living homes and many Knoxville halfway houses can provide similar benefits to those who live in them. 


Arguably the greatest benefit of sober living is that it provides individuals with regular, constant structure. The structure can be found in curfews, drug tests, meetings, therapy sessions, and general responsibilities around the home. There is no sober living vs. halfway homes when it comes to structure, as both types of care offer structure that can help keep individuals on the right path. 


Going from a treatment program to a sober living home or halfway house is a big step in regard to independence. For example, residential treatment programs require individuals to live on campus for the duration of their care. They do not engage in regular, everyday events like grocery shopping or meeting up with friends. When living in a sober living home or halfway house, individuals are granted the freedom to build their independence, as they are allowed to come and go as they please. 

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Important Relationships

It is not uncommon for people in recovery to have little to no healthy relationships in their lives. That is because the disease of addiction can make having productive, happy relationships nearly impossible. However, when living in a sober living home or halfway house, individuals will be able to live among others with similar backgrounds and similar future goals. They can begin to develop meaningful relationships with each other that allow them to practice engaging in healthy communication. 

Reduced Risk of Relapse

There is no comparison regarding sober living vs. halfway houses when it comes to reduced risk for relapse. Living at any one of these homes bolsters an individual’s resilience when it comes to relapse. Simply living in this environment promotes responsibility, accountability, and partnership that keeps individuals on the straight and narrow. In fact, studies show that those who live in either a sober living home or halfway house stick with the program for prolonged periods of time all while maintaining their sobriety longer than those who do not live in one of these homes. 

What to Expect in Sober Living

If you are interested in attending a sober living home or a halfway house, there are a few things that you can expect. Not only will you have more freedoms than you likely had while in treatment, but you will also be asked to uphold certain rules and regulations if you’d like to stay. This includes maintaining sobriety. You can continue to uphold a job or go to school while in a sober living home or halfway house, allowing you to get a taste of what balancing your recovery and living a normal life will look like. You can also expect to attend group meetings, 12-Step meetings, and even engage in therapy while living in one of these homes. 

Sober Living in Knoxville, TN

At Tennessee Valley Recovery, we understand the exceptional value of sober living homes and halfway houses. We want to see you or your loved one succeed in recovery, which is why we offer our full support for the duration of the journey at our sober living in Tennessee.

If you are ready to get the help you need and deserve, call us right now to speak to one of our compassionate admissions specialists. By using our contact form today, you can get started on a brighter, happier future, free from the chains of addiction.