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What is a Halfway House?
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What is a Halfway House?

Written by Seth Fletcher on March 15, 2024
Last update: March 26, 2024

When people with addiction complete their rehab, they may not be prepared to transition into regular society after years of drug abuse and addiction. The distractions and triggers of everyday living could be overwhelming and potentially lead to relapse. Halfway houses provide an excellent option for those who have committed to sobriety but do not think they’re ready for life at home. What’s a halfway house, and what do they achieve? CCFA explores the purpose and benefits of halfway homes and how they help people recovering from addiction reintegrate into society. 

Key Takeaways

  • Halfway houses are transitional facilities which provide support and structure for people in recovery
  • They offer resources and support to help people move from addiction treatment to independent living 
  • They have a set of rules and expectations for residents to follow
  • Halfway houses are a crucial step for recovery for many people with addiction or mental health issues

What are Halfway Houses?

A halfway house, also known as transitional housing, is a facility that provides a supportive environment for people recovering from addiction or mental health conditions. It is typically a supervised, short-term living situation that offers the structure and support required to maintain sobriety. The time spent in a halfway house allows the individual to build new skills, find employment, and become a functioning member of society again. 

The goal of a halfway house is to provide a healthy, community-based environment that is conducive to recovery. Residents of halfway houses will have gone through detox or an outpatient or inpatient recovery treatment. However, they may still participate in additional treatment services like therapy, support group meetings, or programs that help them acquire the skills they’ll need when they leave. 

Halfway houses do not provide addiction treatment, as they are usually not equipped to deal with withdrawal symptoms or complications arising from addiction treatment. If you or a loved one needs addiction treatment, the Canadian Centre for Addictions can help. CCFA offers drug and alcohol addiction treatment in an environment that inspires lasting change. We have a team of experts who will guide you or a loved one through addiction recovery so you can get your life back on track. 

How Does a Halfway House Work?

Generally, halfway houses are designed to provide structure and support while allowing residents to reintegrate into society gradually. Most residents live at the house for a set period, such as three to 12 months, and must follow house rules. These rules may include attending meetings, attending therapy, getting a job, or completing chores around the house. 

Residents will also be required to abstain from drugs, alcohol, or other intoxicating substances. They may also receive access to counselling, job training, or any other service that prepares them for independent living. 

Who Can Live There?

Halfway houses are typically open to people who have completed a drug or alcohol rehab program and want to transition to independent living. However, facilities may set specific admission requirements for prospective residents. 

For example, many houses demand that residents have a job or be actively searching for one. They may also require that residents be sober for a specific duration, such as 30 days. Halfway houses also have a limit on how long someone can live there – usually a maximum time of 12 months – so that the facility can continue helping others in need,

The Different Types of Recovery Homes and Facilities

The term “halfway house’’ is a blanket phrase for different models of recovery homes and facilities designed to help people recovering from addiction transition into independent living. The 

Sober Living Homes

Sober living homes are privately owned facilities where people recovering from addiction can live while they transition back into the community. These homes have rules like having a job, attending meetings, and adhering to a curfew. Sober living homes can be helpful for people who are not quite ready to live on their own but also don’t need the intense structure of treatment programs. 

Transitional Living Programs

Transitional living programs (TLPs) are designed to help people who have completed a treatment program for substance abuse or mental health issues. These programs provide a safe and structured work environment where people can work on their recovery while learning to live independently. 

TLPs may include life skills classes, employment assistance, and group therapy. They are often less intense than inpatient treatment but more structured than independent living. TLPs aim to help people transition from treatment to living independently in the community. 

Therapeutic Communities

Therapeutic communities (TCs) use a community-based approach to help people recover from addiction and mental health issues. These programs are typically long-term, lasting anywhere from six to 12 months. In a TC, residents live together in a structured environment that mimics real-world situations. Therapeutic community residents are responsible for chores, meal preparation, and other daily tasks. They also participate in group therapy and other activities that help them develop healthy habits and coping skills they need to maintain sobriety. 

Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment Houses

Co-occurring disorder treatment houses are residential programs that provide treatment for substance use disorders and mental health conditions. These houses offer holistic treatment, which may involve medications, therapy, and support groups. The goal of co-occurring disorders treatment houses is to help people get their lives back on track by addressing both addiction and mental health conditions. 

The Benefits of Halfway Houses

Halfway houses can significantly help people in recovery. Some benefits of halfway houses include: 

Accountability and Relapse Prevention

Halfway house rules and guidelines keep residents on track and prevent relapse. For instance, the rules may forbid residents from bringing drugs or alcohol to the house. There may also be a rule that makes attending therapy sessions or support meetings compulsory as long as you are in the facility. These rules provide a level of accountability that helps prevent relapse. 

Great Transitional Living Space

Halfway houses provide a middle ground for residents to transition to their regular lives while having the support and structure they need for a smooth transition. 

Atmosphere That Promotes Recovery

The rules of halfway houses ensure that the atmosphere is conducive to recovery. There are rules about how to speak and behave, who can visit and when, and other guidelines that create a recovery-oriented environment. 

Offers a Sense of Routine and Structure

Halfway houses typically have a set schedule for meals, chores, therapy sessions, group meetings, and other activities. These routines provide a sense of structure and predictability that is very helpful in maintaining sobriety. 

Access to Resources That Aid Recovery

Halfway houses offer access to resources that help residents make the best out of their time and have the best chance at recovery. Some of the most common resources include:

  • Therapy sessions
  • 12-step meetings
  • Health and wellness resources
  • Employment services
  • Educational programs
  • Transportation services
  • Food and housing allowance

You Learn to Live with Others

Living with others can be a valuable part of recovery. In a halfway house, you learn how to get along with others, resolve conflicts, and communicate effectively. You also get the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others going through similar experiences and receive insights into how you can make better decisions in the future. 

Halfway House Rules and Expectations

Halfway house rules and expectations vary from facility to facility, but some common ones include:

Rules

  • Adhere to curfews for coming and going out of the facility
  • No drugs or alcohol permitted on the premises
  • You must attend scheduled therapy sessions or 12-step meetings
  • Residents must contribute to the upkeep of the facility by doing chores
  • No stealing or destroying another resident’s items
  • You may need to actively seek employment if you don’t already have a job

Expectations

  • Be respectful of other members of the facility 
  • Be honest and open about your progress or setbacks
  • Have a positive attitude as you work towards sobriety
  • Put in the hard work and dedication required to achieve sobriety
  • Be mindful of your hygiene and personal wellbeing 

Conclusion

For many people, halfway houses serve as an essential link between addiction treatment and independent living. The structured and supportive environment is designed to make the transition easier. Addiction recovery is tough, but with the right attitude and support, a halfway house can be the place where you or a loved one find the required resources to get their life back on track. 

Contact the Canadian Centre for Addictions if you or a loved one needs further assistance with addiction-related issues. Our team at CCFA provides sophisticated addiction treatment options with personalized recovery plans to help you or a loved one get their lives back on track. Call 1-855-499-9446 today to learn about our services. 

FAQ

Why is it called a halfway house?

The term “halfway house” likely comes from these facilities offering support and structure but not as much as a treatment facility. However, they provide more support than independent living. The term “halfway house” is a bit of a misnomer, but it is still widely used.

Who created the halfway house?

The creation of the first halfway house is subject to debate. However, transitional housing services have existed since the beginning of the 19th century in the United States. Canada’s halfway houses date back to the 1940s. Ingles House was founded in 1947 to serve women released from a women’s prison in Toronto.

How much does a halfway house usually cost?

The cost of a halfway house depends on the location, amenities, services offered, and other factors. Basic halfway houses charge about $500 monthly, while luxury halfway houses may cost up to $12,000 per month.

How long do most people stay in a halfway house?

The amount of time a person spends in a halfway house depends on their specific needs and progress in recovery. Some may stay only a few weeks or months, while others may remain for up to a year.

Does insurance cover halfway houses in Canada?

Insurance coverage for a halfway house in Canada depends on the province and insurance plan. In Ontario, insurance plans may cover some or all of the cost of a halfway house. Check with your provider to see what your plan covers.

Certified Addiction Counsellor

Seth brings many years of professional experience working the front lines of addiction in both the government and privatized sectors.

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