Red Flags Of A Bad Sober Living In New Jersey

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Many people in early recovery find their first few months out of inpatient treatment to be the most difficult. Sober living is a useful option to help people just starting on their journey to sobriety to stay on track with their program. About 40% of people in their first year of recovery are predicted to relapse on drugs or alcohol.[1]

Sober living homes in New Jersey allow people to establish a strong foundation in recovery in an alcohol and drug-free environment. They will also be living with other people who are also struggling with addiction, so they will be able to provide each other with support. This builds up their sober support network, which is crucial in preventing a relapse.

While sober living is a very useful tool, if a person ends up in a bad sober living house it will be detrimental to recovery. It is important to recognize the red flags of a bad sober living in order to avoid a harmful situation.

They Ask You To Turn Over Personal Belongings

While it is standard procedure to have your belongings searched before entering a sober living home, the only belongings they should be confiscating are banned items. Sober living is not treatment, so the rules are not as strict as inpatient resident rehab. Items that are not allowed in sober living houses include:

  • Drug or alcohol paraphernalia
  • Cough and cold medicine such as Nyquil
  • Mouthwash containing alcohol

A reputable sober living home will never ask you to turn over personal identification, wallets, credit cards, or phones. This is a sign of a dangerous sober living situation. In a reputable sober living, they would be preparing people for everyday life. This means they would have to work a job or volunteer as well as go to meetings, all things that require you to have identification, money, or a phone.

Sober living homes that ask people to turn over the previously mentioned belongings are covers for “flophouses”. By taking personal belongings, they essentially trap people in the houses. People in flophouses are usually actively using drugs and are being subjected to horrible living situations.[2]

They Don’t Require You To Pay Rent or They Pay You To Live There

Another red flag of a bad sober living is if they are rent-free or they are even willing to pay the person to live there. Sober living homes operate like a normal tenant/ landlord arrangement except with additional requirements to live there such as a commitment to remain drug-free. A sober living that does not charge rent means they are probably committing insurance fraud.

Bad sober livings will lure people in with the promise of either payment or living there rent-free. Once they get the person into the house, they begin to charge their health insurance for false claims.[2]

They Do Not Require Regular Drug Tests

Part of a good sober living is holding the people living there accountable for their sobriety. This involves regular drug testing to be sure residents are being honest about their abstinence. If a sober living is not doing drug tests at least once a week that means they are not checking if people are actually sober. People are able to live there while still actively using drugs and alcohol, which puts the other people in the home at risk of relapse.[1]

There Are No House Rules

During sober living, people are required to follow a set of rules specific to their house. The rules are usually similar and include:

  • A nightly curfew
  • Daily and weekly chores
  • Working or volunteering
  • Attending a certain number of 12-Step meetings a week
  • Submitting to drug testing

These rules ensure that residents establish a healthy routine and hold them accountable for their own recovery. They ensure that people build strong foundations in recovery.

There Is No House Manager

A good sober living home will have a house manager. This is someone that either lives at the house or goes to the house on a daily basis. They make sure that the residents are home by curfew, keeping the house clean, and following rules. They will also administer the drug testing to ensure people are actually staying sober.

Without the accountability of a house manager, regardless of if the house has rules or not they will never be followed. The house gets run down and dirty. This leads to poor and potentially unsafe living conditions. Tenants are at a high risk of relapse when they don’t have rules to follow and they are left to their own devices 24/7.[1]

If there is a house manager, they should be someone who is qualified to supervise newly sober individuals. A good house manager will have undergone a screening process. They are also usually in recovery themselves, so they have a better understanding of the residents they are helping. They will have undergone treatment previously and have several years sober.

Avoid These Red Flags To Find The Best Sober Living Homes In New Jersey

When looking for the best sober living home, you want to find one that is right for you by avoiding these red flags. Making sure that the home has a good house manager, well-established rules, and a support system in place is very important. Early recovery is a difficult time, so finding a stable living situation is vital to your recovery.

At New Jersey Interventions, our sober living homes are staffed with highly trained house managers who will help hold you accountable. Our sober living provides you with the support that you need to maintain your recovery in the long term. Call now to learn more.


Medically Reviewed: April 16, 2021

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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