Drug Testing in Sober Living Facilities

Sober living homes present an opportunity for a person to make a fresh start in a living arrangement with other people who are also trying to achieve and maintain sobriety. The most critical of all stipulations in this living arrangement is sobriety. For this reason, some sober living homes may require drug testing as part of the stipulations of living in the home.

Drug testing may be at regular intervals, such as every six weeks, or conducted randomly, without warning or schedule. There are several reasons why a sober living home may require drug testing, and all of them are centered on supporting each person’s sobriety.1

The Importance of Drug Testing

A core component of addiction recovery is to find a person’s inner motivations to stay sober. For some people, that motivation can in some part be related to the knowledge that they will be drug tested either regularly or randomly. Knowing a person will be held accountable for their behavior in the form of drug testing can incentivize a person to continue living a sober lifestyle.

In a sober living facility, trust and influence are two important factors to consider. Those living in a home have an agreement amongst themselves to stay sober. Unfortunately, relapse can be contagious in a sober living facility. When one person returns to substance use and others find out about it, this can trigger thoughts of lapse in the other residents. Lapsing can also break the trust each house member has with the other as they are all committed to stay sober.

Rules and guidelines are a part of life. A code of conduct is involved with an occupation and in relationships with others. Regular or random drug testing is a part of the code of conduct for those residing in a sober living facility.

Knowing a Facility’s Rules

Drug testing doesn’t always mean a person will be punished or even kicked out of a sober living facility for a failed test, because each home has its own unique rules.2 However, lapse presents an important choice for a person. They can choose to continue honoring their commitment to living a sober lifestyle or can return to an unhealthy cycle of abuse. Some sober living facilities will provide additional help to a person struggling with relapse or may recommend different approaches, such as a return to inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation.

Note that sometimes it’s not the lapse that is the issue, it is the deceit that comes with lapsing. This is deceit both to one’s self as well as the other members of the household. If a person claims to be sober, but knows they have been using, a drug test will reveal this to house managers, case managers or social workers.

Before going to a sober living home, it’s important to be aware of the home’s policies regarding drug testing. If a person knows that a positive drug test is automatic grounds for dismissal, this is even more reason for a person to maintain their sobriety and benefit from all that a sober living home has to offer.


  1. http://www.facesandvoicesofrecovery.org/blog/2016/09/7-steps-toward-addiction-recovery
  2. http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/PHD1091/PHD1091.pdf

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