Transitional Housing in Washington State

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transitional housing

Recovery journeys can take a long time and involve several attempts for individuals to resolve their problems. Substance abuse rehab is part of this for many people, but there are a number of factors outside of treatment that also affect outcomes. Housing is one of these factors. Transitional housing for recovering addicts is an excellent way to get back into everyday life with the extra support of a stable drug- and alcohol-free home.

What is Transitional Housing?

Transitional housing is defined as a “supportive housing program that is temporary and meant to be an intermediate step between emergency and permanent housing.” The requirements for eligibility vary by program but most programs provide structure, supervision, support, and life skills.

What’s the Difference between Transitional Housing, Sober Living, and Halfway Houses?

These terms are frequently used interchangeably, and they are all forms of transitional housing.

Halfway houses were first set up in the 18th century in England. They were used to shelter children who had committed crimes. In the U.S., similar housing was established to house prisoners who had just been released from prison. Many are still used:

  • to house newly released offenders,
  • as a solution for homelessness, or
  • for people who have recently completed addiction treatment. Frequently, residents are ordered by the court to stay for a predetermined period of time.

One thing to bear in mind is that the term “halfway house” has begun to mean different things in different parts of the country. Halfway houses are also called “sober living homes” in some states. For example, in Pennsylvania, a halfway house is a structured residential treatment center, while in Florida it could be a transitory home after formal addiction treatment to help individuals continue their recovery journey in a sober living situation.

Knowing the Difference in Washington

Although they are all transitional housing, when you’re seeking help to maintain your sobriety, it’s important to know the difference between halfway houses and sober living in your area. This helps you figure out which is best for you. Although the goals are similar, there are notable differences.

Halfway Houses

Correctional facilities and halfway houses are community-based support models for people reentering the community from incarceration. This housing is a type of community supervision, similar to parole. Halfway houses are sometimes a condition of early release where residents are required to participate in various forms of treatment, commonly those related to substance abuse.

Halfway house programs provide services for a minimum of three months after release. Failure in either the correctional facility or the halfway house program can be grounds for revoking parole and a return to prison. Most people spent between two and five months in halfway houses.

Halfway houses are run by government entities and may be crowded and dorm-like. Since they usually have fewer facilities, less privacy, and less structure than sober living homes, halfway houses are also less expensive.

Sober Living/Recovery Residences

Sober living homes, like halfway houses, have a long history. In the 1830s, religious organizations began to build “dry” hotels where residents were compelled to abstain from alcohol. And sober living homes, like halfway houses, have continued to develop. Some provide residents with a lot of assistance and structure to help them maintain their recovery, while other homes have less structure.

In the State of Washington, sober living residences are also known as “recovery residences.” They are healthy, safe, family-like, substance-free living environments that support people in recovery from substance use disorders, as defined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In addition:

  • All residences focus on peer support and a connection to services that bolster long-term recovery.
  • Recovery residences benefit people in recovery by:
    • Emphasizing a substance-free lifestyle
    • Furnishing direct links to other peers in recovery, support services, and mutual support groups

Some sober living homes are associated with addiction treatment facilities, while others are maintained by sober living experts whose main mission is to provide a safe living space for people in this stage of recovery. Sober living homes are built more like private homes, offering privacy and comfort for the residents. Insurance may cover the cost of sober living, which makes it a practical option for individuals who may need this level of assistance. Another big difference is that there is no time limit for residency in sober living homes.

What’s a Sober Living Home Like?

transitional housing for recovering addicts

Although some sober living facilities offer opportunities for peer support group meetings, they don’t usually provide “formal” addiction therapy. Sober-living residents still need to see their therapist, doctor, or treatment center to stay on track.

The residents in recovery residences must also observe the rules and regulations. This can go from agreeing to regular drug testing to abiding by curfews. Recovery residences can provide an important stage for people who are just starting their sobriety journey to the ongoing development of newly learned life skills and coping mechanisms. It’s also an effective approach to relapse prevention. It’s easier to resist the urge to relapse when you have round-the-clock contact with assistance and are living in a substance-free environment.

Typical Rules and Regulations of Transitional Housing Programs

Each individual recovery residence will have its own requirements for the residents, but most will have these typical requirements:

  • No alcohol, drugs, violence, or overnight guests
  • Mandatory participation in recovery meetings
  • Random alcohol and drug testing
  • Resident fee payments must be made on time
  • Must be involved in work, school, or an outpatient drug rehab
  • General acceptance by the peer group in the residence
  • Participation in house chores and attendance at house meetings
  • No formal treatment services, but mandated or encouraged attendance at 12-step self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

What are the Benefits of Transitional Housing?

After completing their formal treatment, people are faced with going back to their previous home environment or transitioning into a sober living residence. Sober-living homes have been shown to improve recovery outcomes when combined with a 12-step program. Residences that offer a highly structured schedule of activities tend to improve the chances of long-term sobriety dramatically.

Sometimes, recovery residences are connected to licensed drug rehab centers, and therapists for addiction in washington as a way to provide an even greater level of care. Some residences will contract with the rehabs. These types of residences do tend to have higher fees, but they are often able to serve as an affordable alternative to what would be more expensive inpatient treatment.

Some benefits of transitional housing are:

The opportunity to build meaningful relationships

The only relationship that matters when in active addiction is the relationship with your substance of choice. Transitional housing for recovering addicts can be a place where you begin to add value to your life by building meaningful relationships. In recovery housing, you will meet different kinds of people who will have their own views on sobriety to share. People quickly find that their sober living companions become more like family as time passes.

Ongoing support and structure

If you don’t have structure, it can be easy to slide back into your old habits. Sober transitional housing provides you with the continuing support and structure you need in recovery. To make sure that all residents stick to the rules and regulations of the house, most residences are run by managers. They enforce rules and also help people with any problems. Managers are trained to provide ongoing care by leading group therapy for substance abuse sessions in the home and also holding residents accountable for their actions. If you aren’t held responsible, you may assume that what you’re doing isn’t wrong.

Although some transitional homes use the model where the owner or manager of the house creates and enforces the house rules, more contemporary sober living home associations emphasize a “social model approach” to managing houses. This type of management empowers residents by giving them leadership positions and meetings where they can have input into decision-making. Some houses have a residents’ council, which serves as a type of government for the house.

Learning life skills

During active addiction, relationships, work, and school obligations, and your health all suffered. In sober living, you can learn essential life skills necessary to support yourself when you leave transitional housing. These skills are usually taught through chores each resident has to complete. Some of these skills are:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Doing laundry
  • Acquiring and keeping a job
  • Going to work each day
  • Maintaining your personal hygiene
  • Exercising

These life skills will help you create a routine you can use in your daily life. You can also learn interpersonal skills from other residents and how to apply them.

A bridge between treatment and the real world

Often, people completing treatment are nervous about making the transition back into the real world. Transitional housing serves as a buffer that makes the transition easier because they understand that sobriety is a path they’ll be on for the rest of their life. Individuals also learn to become more independent and rely on themselves instead of substances and other people to achieve their goals.

Relapse prevention

When your body and brain have been affected by alcohol and drugs, there are effects that will continue for life. Some of these include problems with making the right decisions, which can cause a relapse. Transitional housing for recovering addicts lowers the chances of relapse because possible triggers don’t encircle them the way they would if they had returned home right after treatment. This makes it easier to work the program and practice coping skills learned in treatment.

Accessing connections

Recovery residences are equipped with resources to help you navigate your way after treatment. They can help you make connections and succeed at finding a job or continuing your education.

Effectiveness of Sober Living

The lack of a stable drug- and alcohol-free living situation can be a serious obstacle to maintaining abstinence. Harmful living environments can hinder recovery for even highly motivated people. A study of 300 individuals documented resident improvement over an 18-month period in two types of sober living homes.

The study summarized improvements in:

  • alcohol and drug use,
  • employment,
  • psychiatric symptoms, and
  • arrests.

The study found that involvement in 12-step groups and characteristics of their social networks were strong predictors of outcomes. This confirmed the importance of social and environmental factors in recovery–meaning that a critically important feature of a person’s social network is their living environment.

Is Transitional Housing Right for You?

Sober housing can be a perfect fit for many people such as:

  • If you’re about to be leaving treatment in a rehab facility or have just finished an outpatient program, a sober living facility can offer you the structure you need.
  • If you’ve relapsed recently and found that the stress of living in environments where alcohol and drugs are present is especially triggering for you, a sober residence may be a good fit for you.
  • A transitional housing environment that has a sobriety requirement can be a huge help if you’re struggling with housing insecurity due to your struggles with addiction.

Free by the Sea Can Offer Transitional Housing and Much More

transitional housing programs

If you feel that a recovery residence is a good fit for you, Free by the Sea can provide you with a comprehensive treatment program that will support you from the moment you enter a treatment program until you feel confident enough to leave.  While Free by the Sea may not specifically offer detox services, we can certainly assist you on your recovery journey. We can facilitate your safe treatment for various addictions at a medical detox center in Washington, guiding you every step of the way.

The therapists at Free by the Sea are licensed, experienced, and trained in specialized therapeutic approaches such as several types of behavioral therapy, group therapy, and art therapy. Our dual diagnosis treatment includes a young adults program, a senior program, and separate women’s and men’s programs. From there, you may want to enter our sober living housing to help in your transition into an independent substance-free life.

There is much more to explore about Free by the Sea including intervention help and a family support program. Contact us anytime. Your team is waiting.