Connecting People to Services

Sober Living Options

Sober Houses

aka Alcohol and Drug Free Housing

 Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health – Bureau of Substance Abuse Services

What is a Sober House or Alcohol and Drug Free Housing?

  • A sober house is a private living arrangement between a resident and the housing owner/operator with the intent of providing an alcohol and drug free living environment to individuals in the community who desire that support for their recovery from addictive disorders.
  • Alcohol and drug free houses (sober houses) are not licensed by DPH and are not allowed to provide substance abuse treatment services to residents.
  • The Massachusetts Association for Sober Housing does offer voluntary certification to operators of sober houses who adhere to best practice standards in the management of the house.  Click here for a list of sober living options that have been certified by Massachusetts Association for Sober Housing.
  • Because sober houses offer housing only, health insurance does not cover the cost.
  • Towns or local governments are prohibited by both Massachusetts law and Federal law from regulating sober housing.

Click here for a list of non-certified local homes that may be operated by the owner as a sober house

It is always a good idea to research the housing options you are considering so that you feel confident this is an environment where you can be successful.
Below are a list of questions that may be useful to your assessment about the quality of the sober house(s) you are considering:


  • What are the admission criteria for the home?
  • Is there a minimum sobriety requirement?
  • Are those who enter the house required to complete primary treatment first?
  • Are certain medications prohibited for residents of the facility?

House Philosophy

  • What is management’s experience or philosophy with addiction recovery?
  • Is 12 Step meeting attendance required of residents? How often?
  • Are residents required to have a 12 Step sponsor?
  • Are residents required to follow a Continuing Care Plan from treatment to stay in the house?
  • Is there a supervisor/manager that resides in the house? If not, how much supervision is provided?
  • What kind of support is offered to the residents?
  • Are there any counseling services offered?


  • What is the monthly cost for living in the house?
  • How much deposit is required?
  • When is money due?
  • What are the conditions that have to be met to have the deposit refunded?
  • What is the refund policy should the resident leave the house prior to the time paid for?
  • What is the refund policy should a resident relapse and/or be asked to leave the home for problematic behavior?
  • Are residents responsible for their own food and supplies?

Expectations of Residents

  • What is the recommended length of stay? What is the average length of stay for residents?
  • What is the policy on aggressive or violent behavior?
  • What is the policy on possessing pornography or viewing it online?
  • Are residents expected to do chores and cook for themselves? What type of chores?
  • Is there a curfew? What is it?
  • Are there house meetings? How often?
  • How does the resident government operate?
  • Are residents required to work? How long do they have before they must get a job?
  • Are there any jobs that are not allowed?

House Rules

  • Request a copy of the house rules and review them. Ask any questions that arise.
  • Can residents have visitors at the house? What are the hours for visitors? Can visitors stay overnight?
  • Can residents have overnight passes?
  • For what reason(s) would a resident be kicked out of a house? What is the process? How much time
    would be given to find another place to live?
  • Would family members be notified if a resident was being kicked out?

In Case of Relapse

  • Is a resident automatically terminated from a house if he/she relapses?
  • If a resident relapses and returns to detox/treatment, may he/she return to the house after completing detox/treatment?
  • Does the house have relationships/contracts with detox/treatment facilities to facilitate a referral if needed?

General Area/Environment

  • What is the quality of the neighborhood? Is the area safe?
  • Is the location convenient to public transportation, 12 Step meetings, etc?
  • What is the typical demographic of the current residents? On average, how long have they been in the house?
  • Is the physical condition of the house representative of a recovery environment?
  • Who is the management of the home accountable to?
  • Does the home have internet access?

Click here for a list of non-certified local homes that may be operated by the owner as a sober house