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Sober Living Options in Florida

A complete guide on how to find a sober home in Florida here.

10
minute read

ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Sober homes can help you establish routines in addiction recovery. They can be the bridge between treatment and daily life. But, how can you find a licensed sober home in Florida? What are the regulations in the state? We answer here.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Definitions

To begin with, what is a sober home? In general, sober homes in Florida consist of communities of people who agree to live together in a drug-free environment. Sober living is NOT drug treatment. A drug treatment facility is much more proactive and offers medical treatment, so it must be licensed.

Under Florida law, a sober home is a place for recovering addicts to live. This type of housing operates under a typical landlord-tenant arrangement. The resident pays rent and the landlord provides a place to live … but the landlord does not provide actual addiction treatment.

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There are three basic types of housing in Florida:

Sober Living

These houses are stable, supportive, and drug-free living environments for people who want to maintain their sobriety. Most sober living houses offer more than just a transitional period. They provide individualized recovery plans that allows residents to work on their own program. Based on peer support, these houses will help you become self-supportive. It is not necessary to have completed a treatment program, but it is expected that you support yourself, pay rent, and buy food. Moreover, some sober houses will encourage you to work, or to seek work. There is no limitation for the length of your stay.

Halfway Houses

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Halfway houses provide a safe and drug-free environment, but the main requirement for stay is that residents must have already completed or are actively enrolled in a treatment program. Usually, these houses are also funded by the government. Many residents are court-ordered to remain there. Drug testing is mandatory when you leave the house overnight. Also, residents may be randomly drug tested. Halfway houses should have 24-hour staff service which may include a clinical addiction treatment team. Generally, the maximum length of your stay in a halfway house is 12 months with a structured and rigorous program.

¾ Houses

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A ¾ house is a drug-free living house similar to halfway house. The main difference is that ¾ house is less structured and with not so rigorous control. It is a type of step down in supervision. Generally, the curfews are later, and you will have the possibility to go to school or work.

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House Rules

The rules in a sober house vary, but they are some general rules that apply to most of the houses. Here are some of the most common house rules you’ll find a sober home in Florida.

1. No alcohol or drug possession or use is allowed on or off the premises. To monitor compliance, staff can request drug testing for residents, often randomly, and discharge someone who refuses to comply.

2. No guests or visitors are allowed in the house without staff consent. Overnight guests are not allowed.

3. Residents must complete daily chores and adhere to the house curfew.

4. Residents must attend one weekly household meeting as well as self-help meetings daily.

5. Residents must be employed as soon as possible and devote several hours per day to the search.

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6. Residents may not borrow money from others. Stealing results in immediate removal.

7. Many houses do not allow pets.

8. You must pay your rent and any other fees on time.

9. You should keep mental health and medical appointments on time and take medications as prescribed.

10. You are allowed to smoke only in designated smoking areas.

11. Many houses allow a 48-hour overnight pass once a month, but you need to request this in advance and then submit a drug test sample upon return.

12. Fighting and gambling are not allowed.

What Sober Living is Really Like

Living in a sober house after rehab is a challenge. You’ll live with people you’ve never met before who can be very different than you. You’ll need to comply with a strict set of rules. Believe it or not, these rules will help you maintain your sobriety. The idea is that you need rules at the beginning to return to everyday life. So, what’s a typical day like?

In a sober home, everybody wakes up around the same time. The mornings are reserved for daily chores such as making your bed, cleaning your room and the shared bathroom, or helping with breakfast. After finishing with the morning routine, there may be a house meeting to assign duties for the residents. Those who have a job will go to work, while the others can search for employment.

During the day, some residents may have a counseling sessions outside of the home, others may need to perform community service. Usually, the evenings are reserved for a support group session, social activities, and dinner. At night, there is time for reading, or watching TV. Everyone usually goes to bed around the same time, or lights out is around midnight

Despite the fact that these rules may seem strict, there are quite effective to keep you on track with your recovery. A six-months study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs showed that 40% of the participants stayed sober during the 6 months period in the sober home. [1]

Here is a testimonial about living in a sober home:

“Now I no longer live to use. I live with a real purpose and ministry. I live to show others by example that “birds of a feather” can learn to live productive lives and come back from living hell by 70 sticking together. YES I go to meetings. YES I have a sponsor, and YES I am working the steps. BUT – Oxford House was the missing piece to the puzzle that saved my life and for that I am eternally grateful. The funny thing is, Oxford House has become a religious experience for me. I never thought that I would once again find a real purpose for living. Thanks to Oxford House, I am now fulfilling my purpose” Xavier’s Story [2]

Finding a Sober Home

Living in a sober home can bring you many benefits on learning how to live a sober life, and how to avoid triggers. But where you can find a sober home?

1. Ask for a referral from your treatment facility.

Usually, treatment centers are connected with sober houses or offer living in a sober house as part of their aftercare service. Speak with your case manager about options BEFORE you leave treatment. You’ll want to be sure that there is room in a sober home and that they will be ready for you when you arrive RIGHT AFTER TREATMENT.

2. Ask for a referral from a mental health professionals or center.

Most mental health centers in the state of Floridapost flyers for sober homes or have connections with sober households. Speak with an administrative person at a mental health center. Or, connect with a psychologist or counselor for a referral.

3. Visit the National Alliance for Recovery Residences.

This is a non-profit organization dedicated to support people in recovery by helping them access to quality sober homes.[3] Check the website listings for sober homes by city in Florida.

4. Check out a list of Certified Recovery Residences

Finding a good sober home is of huge importance since it has the power to shape your path in recovery. Here is a list of some useful tips you may consider before choosing your future home. [4] :

  • Be sure that you understand the house rules.
  • Check out the testimonials from people who lived there.
  • Find a house that is located near your work and counseling.
  • Try to find a home with people who are 6+ months sober.

Laws

There are specific laws in Florida that regulate the operations of sober homes. Additionally, some federal laws govern how sober housing should be provide throughout the U.S. Here is a summary of the most important state and federal laws and their main principles.

H.R.4684, Ensuring Access to Quality Sober Living Act of 2018

SUMMARY: This law requires that SAMHSA publish best practices for operating sober houses, and to provide technical assistance to adopt those practices.

House Bill 807, CS/CS/HB 807: Practices of Substance Abuse Service Providers

SUMMARY: This law authorizes Office of Statewide Prosecution to investigate and prosecute offenders to patients, and to increase penalties for operating without proper license. Moreover, it requires that the Department of Children and Families, DCF, check out owners, directors, CFOs, and clinical supervisors of substance abuse service providers.

The Americans with Disabilities Act
The Federal Fair Housing Act (particularly its 1988 amendments)

SUMMARY: People in recovery from substance abuse disorders are considered “disabled” under these laws. The latter law specifically prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of housing, or to otherwise make unavailable or deny a dwelling to any buyer or renter because of a handicap. It requires governments to make “reasonable accommodations” to preclude such discrimination.

SAMHSA Block Grants for prevention and treatment of substance abuse
42 U.S.C. § 300x-25 AND 45 C.F.R. § 96.129

SUMMARY: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), administers two federal health care grants for SUD prevention and treatment that states may use to establish recovery homes and for related activities. First, under its Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment block grant, SAMHSA makes at least $100,000 available annually to each state to provide loans to organizations seeking to establish recovery homes. Second, states have discretion to use SAMHSA funding available under a 2-year grant for 2017 and 2018 primarily for opioid use disorder treatment services, to establish recovery homes or for recovery housing-related activities.

NOTE: Florida SB 582 (2014) required all sober houses to register with the state’s Department of Children and Families and provided a criminal penalty for operating an unregistered sober house. The bill died in committee.

FL State Sober Home Statistics

The Sunshine State doesn’t not require license for recovery residences, but there voluntary certification is described by a law called the Florida Statute 397.487. [5]Currently, there are 392 certified recovery residences in the Florida Association of Recovery Residences. [6]

This law states that a person who deals with addiction issues has a higher success rate of achieving long-lasting recovery when they have the opportunity to build a stronger foundation by living in a recovery residence after completing treatment. Moreover, Legislature protects these people by giving them adequate housing.

The voluntary certification program establishes recovery residence certification requirements, monitors and inspect recovery residences, provides training, and develops a code of ethics.

Licensing

Federal Oversight and Regulations

As far as the federal government is concerned, sober houses do not provide treatment; they provide a place where people can support one another in sobriety. They are not licensed by any state agency or subject to state regulation solely as sober houses. Instead, they may be subject to building and fire safety codes based on their size.

State Oversight and Regulations

The residential group homes in Florida are licensed by two state agencies: The Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Children and Families, DCF. You can a complete list of specific residential group care facilities that DOH has authority on in 381.006 (16) of the Florida Statutes. [7] The department provide annual environmental health inspection that covers things such as lighting, house maintaining, water supply, outdoor and indoor equipment, food hygiene and sanitation, etc.

Local Oversight and Regulations

Local governments sometimes try to restrict the establishment or operation of sober houses through zoning and housing codes, but the federal laws outlined above limits their ability to do so. Nonetheless, some towns have tried to use zoning and other codes to restrict the establishment or operation of sober houses.

In Florida, some cities like Pompano Beach have outlined clear zoning guidelines that put restrictions on sober living homes. [8] In this case, for example, the city’s leaders have clarified that people without disabilities and people with disabilities who pose “a direct threat to the health or safety of others” such as prison preparolees and sex offenders are not covered by the 1988 amendments to the Fair Housing Act. Therefore, the logic goes, cities do not have to make the same reasonable accommodation for them as cities must for people with disabilities who do not pose “a direct threat to the health or safety of others.”

How to Report a Sober House

If you suspect that your sober house is committing a crime, a fraud, or has some improper management, you can call on the toll free hotline:

1-844-324-5463

This hotline is created by the State Attorney’s Office who is asking people in recovery, as well as doctors and counselors to report questionable business practice. [9]

Your Questions

Living in a sober house can help you determine the pace of your recovery. Definitely, it will help you focus on you and your health. Further, we believe that living in a sober house will help you transition safely into your day-to-day life. It is the bridge that connects treatment and real life. But it can be a big decision to live in a halfway or ¾ way house.

Do you still have questions about sober housing in Florida?

Call us for more information about your treatment and sober living options. Or, post your questions in the comments section at the end. We try to respond personally and promptly to all legitimate questions.

REFERENCE SOURCES:[1] NCBI: A Clean and Sober Place to Live: Philosophy, Structure, and Purported Therapeutic Factors in Sober Living Houses
[2] Oxford House: Oxford House Stories
[3] National Alliance for Recovery Residences
[4] FL Statutes: Certified Recovery Residences
[5] FL Statutes: Voluntary Certification of Recovery Residences
[6] RARR: Certified Residences
[7] FL Statutes: Public Health
[8] Pompano Beach, FL Guidelines on Sober Housing
[9] Sober Homes Task Force
State of Connecticut: 2015 State of Connecticut Office of Legislative Research Report on Sober Houses
FBI: Sober Home and Drug Treatment Center Owner Sentenced
GAO, United States Government Accountability Office 2018 Report: Information on Recovery Housing Prevalence, Selected States’ Oversight, and Funding
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.

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