Sober Living House Rules

by Elissa Bassini
Sober living homes are operated in accordance with strict rules that promote peer recovery support .

Sober living homes are operated in accordance with strict rules that promote peer recovery support .

Sober living homes are alcohol- and drug-free environments that provide a positive climate for peer group recovery support. While these homes are not acute detoxification or treatment centers, they are operated in accordance with strict quality assurance controls through membership in sober-living coalitions. These coalitions ensure self-governance and self-regulation via peer reviews and inspections. Sober living residents must follow a restrictive set of house rules imposed by requisite health, safety and management guidelines; residents violating these rules are penalized accordingly.

Zero-Tolerance Rules For Drugs and Alcohol

Sober living homes have zero tolerance policies for drugs and alcohol possesion or use.

The single most critical rule in any sober living house is a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol, both on and off the premises. This prohibition extends even to routine medical cabinet items that could potentially be used inappropriately, such as alcohol-based cold medicine and high-proof mouthwash. The majority of sober living homes conduct random drug and alcohol testing on residents as well as searches of residents' rooms and personal possessions. Typically sober living home rules provide that any resident who either refuses to take a test or consent to a search--or is found with drugs or alcohol in his system or property--will be automatically discharged from the home. In addition, all residents are required to attend weekly 12-step meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Daily Chores and Personal Hygiene

Sober living home rules include residents' obligation to perform assigned chores and maintain hygiene.

Typically, sober living homes have an extensive set of rules that require residents to keep the house and their personal living areas clean and orderly and to maintain personal hygiene. Most homes have systems in place that assign residents daily chores on a rotating basis; residents are obligated to perform their assigned chores every day. Residents are also responsible for the continued cleanliness of the house's common areas and their personal living areas; they must clean up after themselves after making use of the house's kitchen, bathroom, and living room spaces and equipment. Finally, residents must shower daily and wash their clothes and bedding regularly during the house's designated shower and laundry hours.

Sober Living Home Rules Regarding Financing

Sober living homes require residents to pay timely rent.

Sober living homes require residents to be financially self-supporting, including purchasing their own food. Residents are obligated to pay their own rent in a timely manner; failure to pay timely rent will generally result in eviction from the home. Rent for a sober living home residency can range anywhere from $250 to $1,500 per month, depending on factors such as the location of the home, occupant density, and services offered. In addition, most sober living homes require residents to be employed, actively seeking work, or enrolled in an accredited school.

Rules for Sober Living Home Safety and Order

Residents in sober living homes are required by house rules to abstain from violent, threatening, and harassining behaviors.

All sober living homes prohibit any disorderly conduct by residents and other behaviors that jeopardize the safety and structure of the home. Acts of threats or violence, fighting, theft, harassment, abuse of house property, unexcused absences and violation of curfews result in severe penalties, including possible expulsion from the home. Residents must also maintain consistently respectful attitudes toward staff, roommates and other residents with respect to privacy, noise, light and proper attire. Sober living homes strive to create supportive home environments in which relationships among residents are akin to that of a typical family; accordingly, associations between residents other than as sisters or brothers, including sex on the premises, may be cause for suspension or expulsion.

About the Author

Elissa Bassini has been writing since 2001. She has been a law firm associate, judicial intern and a teaching assistant/research consultant at the University of Pennsylvania, where she received a 2005 Writers Capstone Honor. Her writing appears in university curricula, research and marketing materials. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, summa cum laude, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania.

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