What to Expect in Sober Living

Avenues New York is a premiere sober living environment situated in the heart of NYC’s famed TriBeCa neighborhood. Avenues offers sober living in a peaceful and serene environment that has all the comforts of home. With sleek and sophisticated modern interiors, comfortable amenities, and an experienced, supportive staff, Avenues NYC sets a new standard in NYC sober living.

Sober livings are a vital and important part of early recovery from addiction. Also known as sober houses or sober living environments, sober livings serve as a serene, sober home base for recovering addicts. By ensuring a substance-free environment at all times, sober livings give men and women in recovery a consistent and comfortable home away from home while they learn to deal with the ups and downs of day-to-day life without alcohol and drugs. Staff members provide support, guidance, structure, and accountability, while sober living community residents bond over the shared experience of living in recovery.

What is a sober living or sober house?

Practically speaking, a sober living is simply a house or apartment whose primary function is to offer residents a safe, supportive, alcohol- and drug-free home environment during their stay. The best and safest sober livings have staff on-site 24/7 to offer structure and support, enforce the house rules, and administer breathalyzers and drug tests to ensure all residents are substance-free. Most sober houses are overseen by case managers, who regularly check in with residents to see how they’re doing, monitor their progress in recovery, and encourage them to participate in off-site recovery meetings, intensive outpatient programs, support groups, therapy, and other activities beneficial to early recovery.

What’s the difference between a sober living and rehab?

While both sober livings and rehabs are designed to help individuals recover from addiction, they are not the same thing. The term ‘rehab’ often refers to 30-, 60- or 90-day or longer inpatient facilities that offer in-house courses and programming.

While sober livings encourage (and often require) residents to attend off-site intensive outpatient programs, recovery meetings, and support groups, most sober livings do not offer in-house programming. Rehabs have clinical staff members like doctors and specialists, and are often “closed door” facilities where patients are not allowed to leave the premises unattended.

Conversely, sober livings are designed to give residents more control and freedom in their daily lives, and are residential rather than clinical environments. It’s recommended by most recovery professionals that recovering addicts attend an inpatient rehab before graduating to the increased level of freedom and accountability offered by sober livings.

Do sober livings have to abide by ethical guidelines?

While sober houses are not regulated at the same standard as clinical facilities, the best sober livings have a strict code of ethics. This ethical code is critical to ensuring that residents receive the highest levels of support for their recovery. In an industry rife with profit motives that aren’t always in the residents’ best interest, it’s important that the administration and staff of a sober living are beyond reproach, reflecting the highest ethical standards in all aspects of operation.

Beware of sober livings that operate below standard ethical addiction recovery guidelines in their daily operation, administration, or marketing. Key ethical issues include

  • Shady online advertising practices 
  • Search engine tampering (ads for luxury sober houses outside of your geographic area)
  • Paid clinical referrals (receiving kickbacks from doctors, clinicians, and rehabs)
  • Inflated or hidden fees for excessive drug testing
  • Charges for services that residents did not request or receive
  • Promises of an “easy” or “permanent” cure for addiction

Is a sober living the same thing as a halfway house?

While many sober livings and halfway houses have similar rules regarding alcohol and drug use, curfews, and house rules, sober livings and halfway houses are not the same thing. Most of the time, when someone uses the term ‘halfway house’ they are referring to a house that is ‘halfway’ between prison and regular society. Halfway houses are a vital part of the criminal justice system, offering former prisoners who are usually on probation or parole a structured environment that helps them adjust to life outside of prison.

Sober livings, on the other hand, are voluntary residences that offer the safety and security of a substance-free living environment for men and women in recovery from addiction. There are many types of sober living houses, but the best sober livings combine the support and guidance found in a rehab with all the comforts of home, creating a peaceful and serene environment that promotes healthy recovery.

Can I leave the house to go to work or hang out with friends and family?

Sober livings almost always have strict curfew rules which allow residents to leave during the day to go to work, recovery meetings, doctor’s appointments, family visits, and more, as long as they return to the house sober, before curfew. Curfew times vary from house to house, but curfew times often fall in the early evening. 

Many sober living houses offer overnight or weekend passes that allow residents to have overnight visits with families and spouses. These overnight passes are often earned through trustworthy behavior and progress in recovery, and are usually followed by alcohol and drug testing upon return.

Do I have to go to rehab before going to a sober living?

Most recovery professionals agree that people in early recovery should attend an inpatient rehab facility before moving into a sober living environment. Inpatient rehabs offer a clinical, controlled environment that’s conducive to the earliest days of recovery, when the most help is needed. Sober living is the next step on the road of recovery,offering more freedom, more accountability, and more opportunity for growth.

Inpatient rehabs offer intensive daily counseling, groups, exercises, and more. Every moment of rehab patient’s day is regimented, including free time, meals, and bedtime. This regimented schedule is crucial to helping people in early recovery learn how to live sober, creating positive, healthy habits like living responsibly, keeping to a schedule, and being accountable. If inpatient rehab is where people in recovery learn healthy habits, sober livings are where they get to implement those habits into their daily lives.

Life in a sober living is all about choice. While many sober houses have house rules and requirements, ultimately, it’s up to the sober living resident to make their own choices about how to approach their day-to-day life in recovery. Each day, sober living residents choose their own schedule, choose where they go and what they do, and choose to stay sober that day. Having the space to make the right choice helps build self-esteem and confidence, while still offering the safety and support of a recovery-based environment.

Are there clinical staff members at sober livings?

Sober houses are not clinical environments, so while staff members and case managers are often experienced in addiction recovery, as well as having general first aid knowledge, CPR, and Narcan training, most sober houses do not have any doctors, or specialists on staff. Although we are not providing clinical services, all Avenues NYC “lead” case managers are licensed clinicians.

Instead, residents are encouraged to take responsibility for their own recovery treatment by seeking out and attending recovery meetings, support groups, therapists, psychiatrists, and IOPs (intensive outpatient programs).

Sober living case managers have regular check-ins with residents to monitor their progress in recovery, and to offer suggestions and guidance when it’s needed. For residents who may need assistance finding a doctor, therapist, group, or specialist, look for a sober living that offers clinical referrals to trained addiction recovery specialists.

What kind of programs and services do sober livings offer?

While sober livings are not clinical environments, many offer valuable recovery services that provide additional levels of support when it’s needed most. Recovery is simple, but not easy, and everyone in recovery has a hard time sometimes. Services such as recovery coaching, sober companions, sober transport, and clinical referrals are valuable tools when a resident’s sobriety is vulnerable. For access to these recovery services and more, look for sober livings that offer additional levels of service and support.

Are sober houses gender-specific?

At Avenues NYC, we offer an environment inclusive of all gender identities; one house for female identifying clients, two houses for male identifying clients, and one all gender house. This allows residents to feel affirmed at home, free to be themselves, and to relax, unwind, and discuss the issues and challenges unique to their experience in recovery. Please explore with admissions regarding which house would feel best for you.

Why do we use pronouns?

Using someone’s correct personal pronouns is a way to respect them and create an inclusive environment, just as using a person’s name can be a way to respect them. For more information, please visit this link!


What kind of rules do sober livings have?

Ground rules are a crucial element of life in a sober living. To ensure the safety of every resident, sober houses are always an alcohol- and drug-free environment, requiring breathalyzers and drug testing, with the option to search residents’ rooms for alcohol, drugs, and paraphernalia. Nightly curfews may vary, but most sober livings require residents to be home by the early evening. Most sober livings also require residents to attend a recovery meeting or support group a certain number of times per week, and some may require regular appointments with licensed addiction treatment specialists such as addiction counselors, therapists, or psychiatrists.

Sober livings have house rules in place to make life in the sober living more healthy, safe, and comfortable for all residents. These rules may include guidelines for noise levels, household chores, visitors, in-house behavior, bad language, dress code, bed-making and tidiness, and more. These rules create boundaries for residents to abide by, which helps to teach responsibility, politeness, respect, and integrity.

What are my roommates going to be like?

Just like those who suffer from addiction, sober living residents come from all walks of life. Men, women, young, old, sober living residents share one common goal: to recover from addiction. Your sober living roommates may not be exactly like you, and that’s a good thing. Living with others teaches empathy, humility, patience, tolerance, and understanding. By living in a community with other people in recovery, sober living residents build lasting friendships through trust, communication, and overcoming the hurdles of addiction, together.  

What’s it like living in a sober house?

Life in a sober living is all about community. The benefit of developing relationships with fellow housemates through the shared experience of recovery is without parallel. By listening and sharing about the obstacles encountered and overcome in recovery, residents gain valuable insights, and build self-esteem by helping others through their own experience. Additionally, life in a communal environment teaches patience, tolerance, and understanding while dealing with others. Community living encourages residents to remain polite and respectful to both peers and staff members, strengthening everyday skills that may have fallen to the wayside during active addiction.

Above all else, life in a sober living teaches us that we are not alone in our struggles. By providing a safe home base for people in recovery, where help and and guidance are always waiting, residents gain the confidence to face the world each day without the use of alcohol and drugs. This supportive environment is crucial in early recovery, with tremendous long term benefits.

If you or a loved one is seeking help with addiction, inpatient rehab services, sober living, or recovery services like sober companions, sober coaching, or case management, Avenues New York can help. Contact us and speak to a case manager today to find out all the ways Avenues can aid in recovery from addiction. At Avenues, help is right around the corner. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone. We’ve got your back.