What is Structured Sober Living?

Specifically "Structured Sober Living" not just "Sober Living" like a Sober House/Oxford House. Two different types of "Recovery Residence".

asked 27 Jul '18, 18:14

CleanAndSober's gravatar image

accept rate: 6%


Great question, thanks. We will work out Sober Living Residence, Structured Sober Living Residence, and Recovery Residence. Halfway House and Transitional Living are less specific to addiction treatment, so we will not cover those.

(27 Jul '18, 18:26) admin ♦♦


Sober Living

Sober Living is an important recovery concept, but "Sober Living Homes" or "Sober Living Facilities" are quite different from each other, and Recovery Residences.


Recovery Residence

Recovery Residence is the overall class of residence that includes sober homes, structured sober living residences, Oxford Houses, and other recovery-focused transitional or group living arrangements.


Structured Sober Living

The structure part of "structured sober living" may define a facility, which is quite different from other sober homes or recovery residences.


Addiction Treatment

Aftercare is an essential component of addiction treatment, and a fundamental goal of aftercare is preventing and recovery from relapse. Sober living is a means of preventing relapse, and managing relapse risk.



The highest priority for any sober living facility or recovery residence, is helping to prevent relapse.

Correct. Structured sober living includes a "structured" environment, meaning there are rules for living that align with responsible, independent living. A sober house may simply be a group home or rooming house, with no drugs/no alcohol rules and maybe a curfew or some typical safer residence rules (no overnight guests, quiet after 10pm, no food in bedrooms, etc.

Each structured sober living residence is different, so you should review their guidelines and requirements, and definitely visit the facility for a tour.


There may also be requirements for attending outpatient treatment when living in a structured sober living home, while a less-structured sober home may simply encourage going to 12 Step meetings (or even host them on-site).

(27 Jul '18, 18:43) SamsAddiction ♦

Sober Homes vary quite a bit. Oxford House is a standard, and there are hundreds of Oxford Homes all over (run as sober rooming houses by residents).

Structured Sober Living is a term being used for all sorts of residential arrangements now, where people living there participate in outpatient treatment programs. The goal is the same : stay sober, and be surrounded by an encouraging community of peers who are also doing the daily work of recovery to avoid relapse and stay sober.

One key difference between residential rehab (inpatient treatment) and structured sober living is that insurance may cover residential rehab (which includes living expenses), but insurance doesn't cover the living costs when you are in outpatient treatment (like when you live in a structured sober living facility and attend outpatient treatment).


I started this question, because the Internet resources are all mixed together. For example, the following is all from one place:

A good, basic definition of sober living residence: "Sober living houses are living environments for those who want to maintain abstinence from alcohol and drugs....difficult without a stable, drug-free environment following treatment... a safe and supportive place for recovering addicts to live during their first months sober."

But then it gets less-specific:

"It is not always necessary for the person to have just completed a rehab program to live in a sober home, though. Sober living can also be an important resource even for those seeking an alternative to formal treatment."

"Most sober living environments provide a lot more than a transitional living environment; many revolve around sound recovery methodology and 12-step programs....Residents are typically required to take random drug tests, participate in 12-step meetings, and demonstrate that they are taking the steps necessary to achieve long-term sobriety."

And then back to more specific, with recovery plans involved :

"Sober living homes offer individualized recovery plans and provide an environment that allows residents to work on their unique recovery program with the goal of becoming self-supportive. Sober living relies heavily on the philosophy of peer support and involvement for recovery"

and mention of what are really transitional homes or group homes, very different from "structured sober living" residences:

"Newer models of sober living are sustained by residents who support themselves, pay their own rent, and purchase their own food. They are encouraged to work or actively seek work if they are not employed."

If I take the first part, and add this last part, I see a pretty good definition of a sober living home, where the amount of structure is still undefined:

"Residents may stay as long as they wish, provided they follow house rules and fulfill financial obligations. Residents may be strongly encouraged or mandated to attend a minimum number of 12-step meetings each week, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, or Narcotics Anonymous, and some sober living houses also require participation in community service activities."


answered 27 Jul '18, 18:23

CleanAndSober's gravatar image

accept rate: 6%

As far as I know, a Recovery Residence is any residence where the theme is recovery. The rest is up to the people running the place. It can be strict and structured, or not.

A Sober Home is well-known to be a sober rooming house. Everyone knows that... so the expectation is very clear : there will be rooms for rent, a shared kitchen and facilities like laundry, and there will be absolutely no drugs or alcohol allowed. There will almost always be rules prohibiting irresponsible or illicit behaviors that are normally associated with using, since that can endanger those in recovery, and lead to relapse.


I just spoke with a counselor who said her experience is that structured sober living places are professional, compared to sober living homes which are run by people who may have experience in addiction and recovery, but have not been trained in addiction treatment. She says that if she refers someone to a structured sober living home, she expects that they will be able to get other services they need (mental health treatment/counseling specifically) while there, and that the managers will be trained to manage residents who have mental health treatment needs.

There is a national level standards body emerging that defines "levels" of Recovery Residences, based on how much structure they have, and what level of support they provide, or if they deliver services.


answered 27 Jul '18, 18:57

CleanAndSober's gravatar image

accept rate: 6%

Thanks everyone and sorry about the delay in publishing the answers... all approved now!

(27 Jul '18, 18:59) admin ♦♦

According to NARR (the national organization looking to define standards for recovery residences), the terms "Sober Living Residence", "Structured Sober Living Residence", and "Recovery Residence" are interchangeable common names. They want to refer to "Levels" of "Recovery Residences" as follows (theres more to it than this, but this is the basic answer):

Level 4 - "Service Provider" - Actually provides treatment services, has paid professional staff including counselors and case managers, and a very structured living arrangement. Often associated with prisons and the judicial system.

Level 3 - "Supervised" - Run by professional staff, structured living designed to promote independent sober living (substance free living), utilized a social support structure, usually involves a hierarchy of involvement (residents become volunteers and may become managers, etc)

Level 2 - "Monitored" - Not run by professionals, but run by House Manager (at least 1 paid staff member on-site), with peer-run groups

Level 1 - "Peer Run" - no paid staff, Democratically run, no paid positions within the residence.

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Asked: 27 Jul '18, 18:14

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Last updated: 27 Jul '18, 23:33