Sober Living and Sober Houses

The stage of recovery that follows completion of detox and inpatient treatment.

A sober house is intended to provide a safe haven for those recovering from addiction by offering a structured, substance-free environment devoid of triggers.

Sober living in not always necessary as part of the recovery process but it is ideal for people who do not have continued support available upon completion of an inpatient rehabilitation program. The leading rehab centers in Asia have their own sober housing services onsite or with an affiliated sober living provider serving patients who have completed 28+ days of inpatient treatment.

Sober homes can vary in size and have different rules. A sober house may decide to have a house supervisor who manages the home, creates and enforces rules while another may choose to be more liberal in their approach, opting instead to seek the inputs of housemates before any house rules/regulations are made.

Key Features of Sober Living

The most important feature of sober living is the peer to peer support environment. It has been shown that people recovering from drug or alcohol abuse who have access to a supportive system are more likely to remain sober than those without. Although each sober living environment has a unique approach to recovery, many share some common features.

Participation in group therapies is encouraged and will usually be mandatory. House rules and regulations must be adhered to. For instance, doing your assigned chores in the house and obeying the curfew rules.

Since you can come and go in a sober house, members are encouraged to work towards completing their recovery education, getting vocational training or participating in voluntary work. Sober homes will do periodic drug testing to ensure abstinence. Housemates who have been found to be using substances may face expulsion from the program.

Group work space at sober house

All these measures are put in place to transition the patient as easily as possible to an independent life without drugs/alcohol. The environment in the sober home should foster opportunities for housemates to learn new decision making and problem solving skills – necessary to maintain recovery in the larger community.

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Residential Rehab vs. Sober Living

The differences between residential rehab and sober living programs include:

  • Rehab is more restrictive and will prohibit patients from leaving the facility whereas sober houses are more relaxed in this regard.
  • Rehab focuses more on the early stages of recovery while sober living provides support for those who are already on their way to successful long-term recovery.
  • Rehab programs provide more qualified personnel, which may include psychiatrists, psychologists and medical specialists.
  • Rehab is more expensive. The cost of primary treatment is higher due to the cost of medical supervision and standard of care received.


Similar programs to sober living include day care programs and intensive outpatient treatment programs. A patient attends the treatment clinic or counselling center during the day while undergoing treatment, then returning home after treatment or during the weekends.

One disadvantage to this model is the increased exposure to addiction triggers. If a patient is exposed before completing treatment, they are more vulnerable to a relapse.

Who Is Sober Living For?

Although there are inherent benefits in sober living, it is not a suitable solution to everyone. There are some factors to consider when deciding whether sober living is right or you or not. If you have previously spent time at rehab and it was unsuccessful, maybe the peer to peer model of sober living might help you maintain long-term recovery.

The Next Step Rehab in Chiang Mai
Secondary care center in Thailand

The most successful outcomes can sometimes be achieved by those who have inadequate outpatient support or support systems to help on the journey to recovery. Sober living is also ideal if you crave the freedom that comes from having a job while maintaining the structure offered by sober living.

Sober living arrangements are not likely to be recommended to individuals who are violent and have a history of aggression towards new people. They are also inappropriate for those who are actively abusing a substance and need to undergo primary inpatient rehab first.

Need help? Talk with a treatment specialist about sober living.

Sober Living Programs in Thailand and Bali

Your primary care giver might recommend a suitable sober living environment. If possible, it is advisable to visit the house where you intend staying and speak with the residents to gauge whether the program is a good fit for your needs.

Rehab centers in Thailand and Bali can have dedicated sober living facilities attached or affiliated with primary treatment centers. This is useful for patients who want to continue with their inpatient rehabilitation provider. Other centers specialize in sober living and extended care provision with programs specifically designed for secondary care and arrested relapse.