Sober Living Options in New Jersey

Are you in early addiction recovery? Maybe you’re looking for sober housing options in a new spot. This complete guide on how to find a sober living home in the state of New Jersey can help.

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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: A supportive drug-free environment is important wherever you live.  But where do you start looking for housing options in NJ? We review sober living homes in New Jersey. Learn more about the state rules and regulations that support your recovery here.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Federal and State Laws

Sober living is NOT drug addiction treatment. Rather, it’s the bridge between treatment and the real world. The goal is to provide you with a support system in a drug and alcohol-free environment. Most people who return to the same place they use end of relapsing. But a sober home can be just what you need to make a new start.

In order to get a clear picture of your rights, it helps to know some basic federal and state laws. There are two federal laws concerning sober living which are important to remember. These are:

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1. The American with Disabilities Act, the ADA

In order for any addiction facility to operate in accordance with this law, it must provide “reasonable accommodations” to those with a disability. A “disability” includes those struggling with drug addiction and mental health issues.

2. The Fair Housing Act, the FHA

No one can be discriminated against in accordance with their national origin, religion, gender, family status, or disability if they are actively seeking out recovery housing.

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Plus, the state of New Jersey has specific laws of its own when it comes to sober living. In NJ, different organizations regulate sober living homes within New Jersey, each with their own set of rules and laws. [1] In accordance to the State of New Jersey 217th Legislature No. 200, all sober living homes must be run and maintained like a drug treatment facility. This means they require licensing and specific procedures to be taken which might not be found in other states. The main organizations involved in sober housing regulation include:

  • Department of Community Affairs
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Human Services

Since most sober living homes work similarly to an apartment or Air BnB, people who want to open a sober home in NJ must go through a process. The good news for you is that this means the New Jersey only provides quality and trusted sober living accommodations for its residents. The most common sober living home throughout the state of New Jersey is the Oxford House. [2] These are self-run, self-supported recovery house programs set up for those in recovery of alcoholism and drug addiction. See more below for vacancy options.

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Sober Living in New Jersey

People who are actively seeking recovery should be able to find this kind of housing in the state of New Jersey.  DO NOT need to go through rehab in order to qualify. You mainly need to pay the rent on time and strictly follow the house rules. New Jersey has a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to drug use and irresponsible drinking. [3] So, this kind of supervised living arrangement can really help you in early recovery.

With that in mind, it’s important to understand the purpose of a sober living home. Since supervision is stepped down you’ll be required to learn strong self-discipline. The idea is for you to work towards your drug-free life entirely on your own. And as you “graduate” into more responsibility…you’ll become more responsible.

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If you feel ready to make this step in your life, make sure your mindset is in the right place. You need an optimistic mindset and strong will. You need the ability to accept that life can be hard and you can no longer turn to drugs or alcohol in order to cope with it.

Halfway and ¾ Houses

A halfway or ¾ house are types of homes funded by the government. [4] In fact, some people are ordered to be residents of these homes by the court. However, this isn’t always the case.

The main difference between halfway and 3/4 houses from other sober living homes is eligibility. You’re often required to either be enrolled in a rehabilitation center or have just recently completed treatment to qualify. In addition, most people will reside at a halfway house for no more than 12 months.

Still, there is no limit when it comes to how long you’re allowed to stay at a halfway or ¾ house. The state of New Jersey and your community have a strong interest in making sure you’re actively seeking recovery. There’s the hope that you’ll land a job and get yourself into a steady schedule which will keep your mind off potential cravings.

You can expect direct supervision during your time at one of these houses. For example, you’ll be required to submit to random drug tests from time to time. And you’ll probably need to attend regular meals or house meetings. Know that if you fail a drug test, you must leave the home, often forfeiting a deposit.

House Rules

When you enter a New Jersey sober living home, ask about the house rules. A specific set of rules is should be followed by everyone who lives there. Since the house rules vary from home to home, you’ll want to ask your landlord about these guidelines from the beginning.

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In the state of New Jersey, there are a set of common rules which you can expect to find in nearly all sober living homes. These rules are ALWAYS taken strictly and, if you are caught breaking one, you can expect to be discharged immediately. Especially when it comes to laws surrounding drug and alcohol possession/use. Common rules found in New Jersey sober homes often include:

1. No alcohol or drug possession or use is allowed on or off premises. In order to make sure this rule is followed, you may be subjected to take frequent drug tests often at random and, if you refuse to take or fail one, you’ll be required to leave.

2. You’ll be required to attend regular meetings. These are set in place to check in with everyone and work through emotional difficulties anyone is going through. Each resident will also receive chores. You’ll be assigned chores which include cleaning or prepping meals.If you have any questions concerning your sober living home, this is the perfect time to ask.

3. A curfew is set for each sober living home which you must meet. There are situations where you’re allowed to stay out past the curfew. For example, if you have certain commitments to important areas of your life, such as school or work. However, most sober living homes require you follow curfew for a certain period of time before asking for these privileges. You should also expect a drug test if you are allowed out past curfew.

4. You might receive a schedule pertaining to when you can use the shared bathroom or not. This is set in certain sober living homes so residents don’t fight over shower times.

5. You’ll be required to set your own personal treatment goals. These can be anything from receiving a job to successfully going a certain amount of months sober. The goal of this is to evaluate your sober living progress. You’l have to meet with a staff member in order to develop a plan.

6. You’ll be required to attend 12-step meetings on a regular basis. Though some sober living homes have these meetings within the home itself, you may have to go out into the community and become involved in one.

7. Any cigarette smoking or vaping must take place in a designated smoking location.

8. You cannot have sexual contact of any kind with another resident. Gambling is also not allowed.

9. You will be penalized for stealing from the house or destroying the property. You’ll also face consequences for participating in violent activity.

 

It’s important to note how strictly these rules will be enforced. There are no exceptions to breaking these rules and, if you’re caught in the act of breaking one, you will be kicked out of the sober living home. The purpose of these rules is to help you start to live independently. Consider a sober living home a time to get yourself disciplined for when you leave the home…and start living 100% on your own.

What Sober Living is Really Like

Sober living is a mixed bag. You never know who you’ll be living with and how your personalities will mix.

Most people have trouble handling the real world without the use of drink or drugs. This is because addiction changes the way our brains work. Plus, you may be susceptible to relapse depending on your environment and the people you’re surrounded by. [5] Triggers for drinking and drug use are all around us. And you need some extra time to adapt to a new life.

A sober living home addresses these problems in a practical way. By following the rigorous rules and discipling yourself into a schedule, you’re setting yourself up for sober living in the real world. You’re beating the potential of relapse day-by-day and getting yourself on track to start a new life. As you keep busy and adapt healthy patterns…you’re starting over.

But to be honest, living in a sober living home can be difficult. Why?

  • You need to learn self-discipline while beating cravings.
  • You’re living in a new environment.
  • You’re required to follow a strict set of rules.
  • You’re surrounded by people you don’t know.

However, the advantages of successfully completing sober living far outweigh the difficulties. By learning new habits, you can really beat your drug addiction for good. [6] Remember, the purpose of these homes is to help continue with positive changes you began in treatment. You can live the life of your dreams!…one day at a time.

Day-to-Day Life

Every sober living home in New Jersey works independently. If you’re curious as to how your sober living home runs, you’ll want to speak with your landlordor the home management team. Still, there’s a basic schedule most homes go by. It goes as follows:

EARLY MORNING: Once you wake up, you will most likely have to complete one or more chores which were assigned to you in a house meeting. This can be anything from cleaning to preparing breakfast. It’s important you’re always on top of your chores as they are set in place to keep the residency in proper shape. Most homes require that you make your bed and keep the kitchen clean, for example.

LATE MORNING: If you’ve landed work, you’ll be expected to work during this time. If you don’t have work, you’ll be required to actively seek a job. There a number of reasons for this requirement, from providing for rent and getting yourself in an active mindset. It’s been proven this activity can prevent relapse. [7] It’s important to note, when you first land a job, you’ll want to make sure your job schedule is in accordance with your sober living home schedule.

AFTERNOON: Much of this time will be spent at work. However, if you’re required to make a doctor’s appointment, counseling meeting, or community service, you’ll need to complete that at this time too. Most people attend a 12 step meeting sometime between the morning and early evening.

EVENING: Once you go back home, you’ll most likely attend a self-help or house meeting. From there, you can participate in various activities, including dinner.

NIGHT: This is your time to partake in entertainment. What you do with this time is up to you, whether it’s listening to music or reading a book. Most sober living homes will have a time when lights go out. This tends to be around midnight.

Finding a Sober Living Home

There are various ways to find a sober home in New Jersey. Though you can make a quick Google search, there are other ares to seek out your options. It’s vital you find yourself a reputable sober living home which is just as concerned with your journey to sobriety as you are. You’ll want to look towards the following resources:

1. Non-profit Organizations

There are websites, such as ProjectKnow which act as a search engine for sober living homes within various states across the U.S. If interested, you can check out their New Jersey Sober Living Home page. You can also view this non-profit for more information on New Jersey Transitional Housing. Lastly, you can check out the New Jersey Alliance of Recovery Residences for further info.

2. Oxford Houses

Many sober living homes within New Jersey run under the self-run, self-supported recovery house program Oxford House. You’ll find yourself living in a drug and alcohol-free environment with 5 to 10 other residents by your side. You’ll find home which male-only facilities as well as female. Oxford Houses also offer homes where women with children are accepted. For a list of Oxford vacancies, visit their website.

3. Request a Referral

Through your rehab or addiction counselor, you might be able to find out where reputable sober living homes are within your area. In order to get more information, you’ll want to talk it over with multiple sources. Be sure to ask as many questions as you need. You’ll also want to do this BEFORE leaving your treatment facility as you’ll want to make sure there’s room in the sober living house the day your treatment ends.

Licensing

As mentioned under federal and state laws, it’s required for New Jersey sober living homes to hold a license. [8] In order to make sure the sober living home you want to join holds a license, check with the state authorities:

  • The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs
  • The New Jersey Department of Health
  • The New Jersey Department of Human Services

How to Report a Sober House

Are you suspicious of your sober living home committing a crime, fraud, or having improper management? If so, you’ll want to contact the Office of the Attorney General in New Jersey. [9]Their citizen services number is:

(609)-984-5828

If you’d like to leave an email, you can do so through their Citizen Services E-Mail Form.

Your Questions

Still have questions surrounding your sober living options in New Jersey?

Feel free to ask them in the comments section below. We also invite comments which provide more details on sober living homes in New Jersey. We try to reply to each legitimate question in a prompt and personal manner.

Reference Sources: [1] Community Affairs: Uniform Construction Code – Rooming and Boarding Houses
[2] NJ Department of Health: Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services
[3] Driving While Intoxicated: New Jersey Laws and Penalties
[4] J Psychoactive Drugs: A Clean and Sober Place to Live: Philosophy, Structure, and Purported Therapeutic Factors in Sober Living Houses
[5] Relapse Prevention: An Overview of Marlatt’s Cognitive-Behavioral Model
[6] J Psychoactive Drugs: What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go From Here?
[7] Yale J Biol Med: Relapse Prevention and the Five Rules of Recovery
[8] Department of Human Services: Recovery Housing
[9] Office of the Attorney General: Contact Us
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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