What’s a Halfway House?

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What’s a Halfway House?Having a support network of friends, family, therapists and other caring individuals is endlessly helpful for avoiding relapse, but they can’t always be there for you—unless you’re residing in a halfway house. Residents in group homes are encouraged to interact with their staff and peers in productive ways. They learn, they work, and they grow. These “sober homes” are used by various youth-related public welfare agencies—juvenile justice, child welfare, and mental health—to ensure, 100 percent, that recovering youth make it through their first few months of recovery.

Who attends them?

Each sober home typically serves 5 to 15 clients, some of whom are court-ordered to be there.

There are a variety of reasons why a young person may be placed in one of these facilities: behavioral problems, emotional issues, drug abuse, and consistent trouble with the law… lots of overlap. In addition to group therapy sessions, sober houses employ specially-trained staff to assist residents individually with emotional and behavioral challenges. At some facilities, the staff are residents as well.

What do they do?

Most group homes fall under the category of residential group care. However, they are different from traditional treatment centers, most of which include elements of a group home. Compared to rehab clinics and juvenile detention centers, youth halfway houses are less restrictive. They are staff-secured rather than locked, and there are far less restraints on how the residents can interact with the outside world. Facilities which do not provide their own academic instruction—some do—will allow youth to continue attending public school throughout their stay. This leniency serves not as an alternative to traditional treatment, but as the next step. The mentality: you’re halfway there.

Why use them?

As with all aftercare services, youth halfway houses depend on the motivation of the client to work effectively. You might assume that a motivated person, who just finished rehab, doesn’t need any more supervision—but that’s not always the case. Cravings, peer pressure, stress, and other relapse-triggers occur unexpectedly. Picture a trapeze artist swinging from bar to bar: they are talented enough not to miss and fall to the ground, but just in case, there’s a safety net below.

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