When is a Drug Addict Released to a Halfway House?

A halfway house can be defined as a rehabilitation facility for substance addict who has already gone through some kind of treatment in a community correctional facility and is ready to be integrated into society. Halfway homes are also known as sober houses due to this reason. As the name suggests, it is a place halfway between the actual institution that actively helps them recover and their re-entry into society.

Not every recovered addict is fit to be in a halfway house or needs to be. It depends on a lot of external and internal factors. Addicts may choose to spend time in a halfway house themselves or might be recommended or mandated to do so by the hospital or rehab center they were released from or by the court.

In many places, halfway homes are used to refer to rehabilitation centers for recovering patients with physical, mental, or emotional disorders. Whereas, in other places, halfway homes are meant for recovering addicts who need a place to successfully make the transition to society.

Halfway homes are not the same as addiction recovery centers. The recovery centers use medical and psychological treatment to gradually wean the patient off the drug they are abusing. But halfway homes are the next stage that provides patients who are fully or nearly recovered, a place to stay, learn life skills, and cross the critical stage when there is a high chance of relapse.

What is the Need for Halfway Houses for Released Drug Addicts?

Many people argue that halfway houses are unnecessary since rehab centers are already there. But one must understand that a halfway house and a rehab center have widely different functions. This is especially true for released addicts who have a history of addiction. Let us look at some of the functional aspects of halfway houses and what it means to accomplish.

  • The first and most important function of a halfway house for inmates is to provide recovered and released addicts with a safe place to live in. Many addicts do not have their own houses or are not accepted back by their families. Thus, they are essentially homeless. Living on the streets would inevitably cause a relapse, as they would encounter triggers at every turn. These people need a safe, trigger-free residence where they can learn to become as immune to triggers as possible before being allowed back to society.
  • One of the major principles for halfway houses for inmates is to prepare them for their new-found independence. These people have, due to long isolation from society, lost their job skills and the most practical skills necessary to live by themselves. Halfway houses for inmates to teach them any life and job skill they may need. The halfway houses also aid the person in finding the right job so that they can get a residence and sustain themselves without the aid of a third person.
  • Halfway houses also maintain ongoing treatments and therapy for the people. This is essential for every ex-addict who has been in prison. A sudden shift to outside life can overwhelm these people. This is also one of the reasons the chance of relapse is quite high if a person does not go through a halfway home when prescribed is that they are unable to cope with the stress of adapting to normal society. So, they end up taking drugs again to help with the stress. Halfway houses for inmates give them a taste of outside life without the stress and give them the time to adjust.
  • Rehab centers have an environment that is the polar opposite of the external, everyday society. Some rules and regulations are impractical in real life. Not only that, but they also have stringent therapy and working rules which may cause the inmate to lose motivation to stay sober. This is where halfway houses come in. These maintain the strict rules of maintenance of the sober status but also make it more akin to life outside. An addict can easily learn what the general rules of a halfway house are and follow them without fear of severe punishment on failure to comply.
  • There is another reason why the halfway house is necessary. If drug addicts are released right away from the rehab center, there is no way you will be able to track their movements and stop them from making mistakes. But a halfway house for inmates will be like a sort of secure parole for them where you can keep an eye on them all the time and guide them the right way.

What Does A Halfway House For Addicts Offer?

Halfway houses for drug addicts provide all the necessary facilities and training for seamlessly adapting to life in the society. These are meant to prepare the addicts for a life where they can be self-sufficient and not fall into substance abuse again. These include:

  • A residence till the time they can find their own and pay rent for it
  • Training basic life skills like paying taxes, making a budget, maintaining a house, driving a car, etc
  • Career counseling and vocational training to help them get a job
  • Financial aid until the time they get a job that pays enough to support them
  • Medication, if required
  • Education, if necessary
  • Recreational activities
  • Continued abstinence support
  • Mental and emotional counseling
  • Any other training, therapy or support they may need

When Should An Addict Be Sent To A Halfway House?

There could be many reasons for a drug addict could be released to a halfway house. Some of the most common reasons are listed below:

  • The drug addict has completed his or her time in rehab and is now ready to be released and needs a transitional phase to adapt to life in society.
  • People whose crimes are limited to drug or alcohol abuse and related activities may be sent to correctional facilities with rehab followed by a halfway house.
  • If the person is not responding to rehab and has been evaluated by a capable psychiatrist to be deteriorating in the environment, they may be shifted to a medical facility and then get a release to a halfway house.
  • Often, when rehabs are getting crowded, addicts with a sentence for substance abuse may also get a release to a halfway house, especially if they do not have a history of violence or a record of failed halfway house stints.
  • A very similar reason is if the budget is running low. The state may then ask the rehabs to shift the low-security addicts to a halfway house, as accommodation in these facilities is naturally cheaper.

Halfway houses for drug addicts obviously have a lot of advantages. But often, it so happens that the residents of the neighborhoods where these are built may oppose it due to the NIMBY or Not In My Backyard effect, as it happened with the resistance against halfway houses in the Meetinghouse Hill locality. They become wary of the fact that having ex-addicts in the neighborhood could endanger their lives.

Not only that, but they were also afraid that drug addicts could have a negative effect on the people of the locality. Of course, their fears are not unfounded, but unless the society comes together as a whole to help these people restore normalcy to their lives, the overall impact could only get worse.