What is a sober home? 

A sober home is a group residence that provides alcohol and drug-free housing for people with substance use disorders.  It is not a half-way house, detox, or treatment facility. Residents are expected to abstain from the use of alcohol and drugs, including misuse of prescription medications. The purpose of a sober home is to provide a safe, supportive living arrangement for people to make peer-to-peer connections and become self-supportive, contributing members of the community again.  


Why would someone go to a sober home?

Sober housing is often used as transitional living for residents leaving rehabilitation or residential treatment programs.  The choice to live in a sober home may be voluntary or the result of a referral or court order (mandated/stipulated).  Regardless, maintaining abstinence is difficult without a stable, drug-free environment, especially in the first months of sobriety. Support, structure, guidance, and social connection are critical to changing behavior patterns, developing life skills, and preventing isolation.


Are all sober homes the same? 

All sober homes are not equal. There are reports of unsafe, negligent, overcrowded homes that are in disrepair and most importantly, anything but sober.  Make sure you research and pick a reputable, certified home that fits your recovery plan.  


Sober homes differ in structure, cost, and services provided.  At a minimum, a sober home offers peer-to-peer recovery support. Some lack structure and are more appropriate for those with an established recovery plan and a desire to live in an alcohol and drug-free environment. Other sober homes are strictly structured with rules, such as curfews, mandatory in-house meetings, house chores, and random drug and alcohol testing. Many sober homes require residents to pay weekly rent and purchase their own food.  Residents who qualify for government assistance may be able to use certain funds to pay for house fees.  

Are all sober homes certified in Massachusetts? 

Certification is voluntary in Massachusetts. However, the state has mandated that all courts, state agencies, and state vendors (vendor with statewide contract to provide services) must use or refer people to certified homes. The list of certified sober homes is listed below by gender.  

Why is certification voluntary?  Why are sober homes not more regulated?

Sober homes do not provide formal treatment, so they are legally classified as privately owned lodging for recovery substance users.  Under federal law, recovering substance users are considered disabled, so imposing requirements has been condemned as discriminatory. Therefore, a home can be certified, but the certification process is voluntary.  

What does it mean to be certified? 

A certified sober home has met the industry standards of management, support, operation, and supervision to be compliant with the Massachusetts Alliance of Sober Housing (MASH) and the National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR) Quality Standards and Code of Ethics.  

MASH standards and certification program may be found at https://mashsoberhousing.org/certification/  MASH can be contacted at (718)472-2624 or office@mashsoberhousing.org. 


NARR standards and certification program guidelines may be found at https://narronline.org/affiliate-services/standards-and-certification-program/.  A NARR representative may be contacted at (855)355-NARR (6277) or info@narronline.org. 


Who certifies a sober home in Massachusetts? 

Under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 165, Section 37 of the Acts of 2014, the MA Department of Public Health (DPH) established a process for the voluntary certification of alcohol and drug free (ADF) housing. DPH awarded the contract to the Recovery Homes Collaborative to be the inspecting and certifying body and to Gavin Foundation in collaboration with the Massachusetts Association for Sober Housing (MASH) to be the training and technical assistance vendor. The Recovery Homes Collaborative, Gavin Foundation, and Massachusetts Alliance for Sober Homes (MASH) are state vendors. They are NOT state or federal regulatory agencies. They are NOT part of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Housing and Community Development, or the Department of Safety.  MASH is a nonprofit organization led by a board of directors and sober home operators that used empirically-based recovery principles to develop a certification process to regulate sober homes.  

What does Massachusetts General Law say about sober homes? 

In July 2014, Bill H.1828 was passed into law mandating the monitoring and voluntary certification of MA Sober Homes. Section (h) of this law states that although a sober home is not required to be certified to operate in Massachusetts, a state agency, state vendor (i.e. vendor with a statewide contract), or an officer setting conditions for release, parole or discharge, may not refer a person to a residence that is not certified. [Subsection (h) added by 2014, 165, Sec. 37 effective June 1, 2015. See 2014, 165, Sec. 287.]

ADF Notice To Homes Final 

ADF Housing Letter to State Agencies Final 

What should I consider before moving into a sober home? 

Consider the standards for safety, cleanliness, management, and ethics.  The following is a list of self-directed questions: 

Is the home certified? 

Are you a professional, college student, single parent, veteran, parolee/probation? Does the home support and understand your current situation? 

Is public transportation available? Is parking available for registered and insured vehicles? Is the home conveniently located near your work, school, doctor's office, etc? 

Who does this home accept? Only people who have completed a residential treatment program?  Off the street? Court or probation mandated? Voluntary? 

What is the protocol if a resident relapses? 

Is there alcohol and drug testing? Is it mandatory, random, or only performed when there is a suspicion of drug use? What is the protocol for a postiive test? 

What are the house rules? Curfew? Mandatory in-house meetings? House chores? 

Are there zero tolerance policy for sexual miconduct, theft, violence (including threats)? 

Are overnight absences or weekend passes allowed? 

Can guests stay overnight? 

Does the home offer a recovery network or environment that meets your unique goals of becoming self-sufficient?  How will the house support my recovery? 

What type of recovery programs and support services are offered onsite or available nearby? 12 step or support group meetings? Life skills coaching? Vocational or educational resources? 

Where is the home located? Is the location a trigger? 

How is the home set up?  Male, female, co-ed? Duplex? Apartments? Single occupancy rooms?  Dorm rooms? How many residents will be living with me? 

Who are the current residents? Will I be able to connect with them? Is there a policy in place if I do not get along with my roommate at or another resident? 

How is the house managed? 24-hour supervision? What is the quaflication of the owner(s) and staff overseeing the residence? Is there a protocol in place if I do not get along with a staff member? 

Is there a grievance policy and standardized procedure if I feel like my recovery needs are not being met?  

What is the medication policy? Does the house accept residents on Medication-Assisted Treatment (methadone, Suboxone, Vivitrol)? If medications are allowed, are they locked up or can I keep the in my room? Who has access to my medications? 

How much are rent payments? What types of payments are accepted (beware of cash only homes)?  What is the refund policy?

What are the upfront costs?  Do I need to buy my own food? 




The information provided on this page is meant as guidance and is not an official endorsement, recommendation, or recognition of any specific sober home by End Mass Overdose, Inc. or any of its affiliates. 

  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon
  • Grey Instagram Icon
  • Grey LinkedIn Icon

Support Our Mission