Transitional Housing vs Sober Living: What’s the Difference?

If you are in addiction recovery, you have probably heard the terms transitional housing and sober living. Sometimes you hear of these being used interchangeable but in fact, they are two different things. When someone who is recovering from addiction needs a safe place to stay, they often turn to one of these two housing programs. Which they turn to depends on the type of services they need as well as where they are coming from. Both of these options have benefits and drawbacks. In order to understand the difference, you will need to know a bit more about each type of living arraignment.

Transitional Housing

Transitional housing is normally the term for a residence that allows people to transition from an inpatient environment to an outpatient one. It gives people a place to stay while they are getting used to living in a new environment without their previous addictions. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, many people do better when they transition from a restrictive environment such as inpatient or prison addiction care to a less restrictive transitional house.

The important thing to remember about transitional housing is that it is for people in transition. This normally means they are transitioning from a bad or restrictive environment to a better or less restrictive environment.

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Sober Living

Sober living houses are an alternative to returning into a nonrestrictive environment. Most people who live at sober living facilities come from environments that are unhealthy or have too many triggers in them. They help people who need a safe place to stay while recovering from addiction. Most sober living houses have structured environments that allow a person to learn how to live without their drug of choice. People in sober living need a safe supportive environment to help them on their path to sobriety.

Similarities between a Transitional House and Sober Living

Transitional Housing

Sober housing helps people make the transition into everyday life after rehab.

Although they are two different things, there are many similarities between a transitional house and sober living. A few of these similarities are:

  • Both offer structured environments. This structure helps addicts both fill their time and plan daily activities for their return to normal life. Many people begin using due to lack of structure in their daily routines.
  • Both offer a safe environment. Often people start using because they are coping with the stresses of an unsafe living space. They sometimes come from environments with other users, unsupportive family, or abusive environments. Others come from the streets or prison.
  • Both offer refuge from triggers. Home environments offer opportunities to use drugs. Sometimes being away from the places that you began using in and the people that you began using with, helps to keep you from relapsing.
  • Both are group living environments. Living with other recovering addicts is extremely helpful for some people. Other people who are going through the same thing helps someone in recovery to feel less alone and sometimes less afraid of returning to their environment.
  • Both allow an addict to put newly learned coping skills into practice. It is one thing to learn the coping skills, it is quite another to put them into play in the real world. Both transitional and sober living offer a chance to test drive these skills.
  • Both usually have a onsite manager to manage daily activities. Usually someone works in the home as a counselor and manager 24 hours a day. These people normally act as counselors, managers, coordinators, and coaches.

Some sober living residences have more or less in common with transitional houses. Much of it depends on the way they are run.

Are Sober Living Houses an Effective Alternative to Traditional Treatment?

Differences between a Transitional House and Sober living

It is not until you really look at transitional housing and sober living that the differences become apparent. A few of these differences are:

  • Transitional houses accept people from prisons, inpatient programs, and psychiatric facilities. Sober residences normally have a less hardcore clientele.
  • Sober houses are more relaxed than transitional ones. They have programs that deal less with transitioning to a new environment and more with learning how to cope without the addiction.
  • Many transitional programs act as a crash course on how to live in society. Sober living is more an adjustment than a complete change.
  • Sober living is sometimes a place between inpatient care and outpatient care. It is halfway between the two.
  • The government funds many transitional houses as halfway houses while sober residences are usually privatized.

There are many more differences depending on the exact facility. Although they are structured the same there are many differences. One of the main differences to remember is that transitional housing helps a person make a transition into a normal environment where as a sober facility is more for those that just need a clean environment.

According to the National Library of Medicine’s article, titled “What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go from Here?” sober living and transitional housing improve the chances of a positive outcome for addiction. People who enter into these environments generally relapse less.

When deciding between transitional housing and sober living, it is important to understand the functions of each. Different programs offer different services and it is always good to speak to the facility before making a definitive choice between the two. Many facilities provide both sober living and transitional residence programs, knowing the difference between them can help you make this choice.

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