Halfway House, Sober House, “whole house”

When we hear the term “Sober House”, most of us in New England typically think of a ‘rooming house’ with minimal structure, and the only ‘key rule’ is abstinence from alcohol of drugs.  There is little or no internal (residents) support community.rpk-tramplin

If any structure exists – it is limited to “sober house weekly meeting”, where the maintenance/sober house cleanliness issues are reviewed and enforced.  New residents are coming in and out of the house all the time. Random drug and alcohol testing are administered to enforce the one principle rule: no alcohol or drug use of any kind. The frequent turnover of residents is partly nurtured by the absence of structure.

A Halfway House, on the other hand, has some form of active rehabilitation structure which provides a daily infrastructure for residents/house mates. The early halfway house therapeutic model was extremely confrontive. These early halfway house environments perceived the addict as undisciplined, selfish and manipulative; these early halfway house staffing felt the addict needed to be broken. These halfway house programs confused humiliation with humility.

The term Halfway House has always had a bit of a dark cloud over it. Originally a halfway house was a place for the re-integration of men and women who have been released from prison or a psychiatric hospital.  Neighborhood opposition to halfway houses was both public and outspoken.


The Riverbank House Moves the Halfway House into a Whole House

The Riverbank House bridges the gap between the highly structured, halfway house model and the autonomy of the sober community. Whatever the term: Halfway house, rehab, or sober house – the need for long term structured care is obvious. Research had shown us that individuals who receive structured extended care,and a more gradual reintegration into every day sober life have more than twice the likelihood of longer-term sobriety.  As house members/patients move to a fuller, more whole-some environment/livelihood there is a substantial increase in sobriety without relapse. Participants in long-term treatment are far more successful than those residents living in the ‘typical’ sober house. As previously mentioned long-term care literally doubles the number of individuals who remain sober for their

lifetime.There are internal supports as well.  Residents are encouraged to see themselves as a tightknit community, a family if you will!


Why is a ‘halfway house’ model – extended structured treatment -so valuable? Why is the Riverbank House so much more effective than typical sober house living?

Extended care or long-term care is an opportunity to establish an internal emotional (and spiritual) infrastructure without which long-term sobriety is rarely achieved.The Riverbank House is a ‘response’ to this need for structure and reintegration.


The Riverbank House seeks to be far more than a halfway house or a sober house. Offering a full range of services within home, including but not limited to mandatory group meetings, open community spaces with all the essentials extra-large flat screen TV, Xbox, a game room, a weight room, a yoga room, and of course the Xbox and computer Wi-Fi access. Depending on how you look at it, some of those may not be considered “essentials”. But the fact remains that the sober house resident, the Riverbank resident – has a feeling of being at home, a sense of not being deprived of the components and “things” that is a typically available with living on the “outside”.

Of course the Riverbank House also offers a greater depth to their services that any of your typical sober houses.

Structure! You are assigned a 12 step counselor – residents are required to participate in 12 step work, group chores and a sense of belonging and responsibility are also important aspects of the Riverbank House.Acknowledging the requirement for an organized process from treatment to independent living is the key reason that the Riverbank House established a phased process.

Entry into the sober house environment is rarely (if ever) the first choice of the addict/alcoholic. Of course, everyone entering a long-term treatment program, whether 28 days or longer – plans on staying sober, living sober for his lifetime.

All of the requirements of the Riverbank House are designed to work in synergy to support the newly sober person into a life of long-term recovery. Our goal – we react less to life and intelligently respond to life’s circumstances. Residents experience themselves as creating new qualities, reinforcing in expanding their positive personality characteristics, as the less effective character flaws begin to fall away.

The Riverbank House is a “whole house” emerging the halfway house model. We see our residents as ‘whole’ already…not broken!