Drug Testing in Sober Living Homes

A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health on sober living houses concluded that alcoholics and drug addicts who go straight from rehabilitation to their old lives and ways are at high risk for relapse. Sober living homes bridge the gap between inpatient residential rehab facilities and unrestricted environment that they come from before entering a rehab center. Plenty of substance addicts live in sober houses to help them transition from rehab to independent and drug-free living.

Sober Living Home

A sober living house is not the same as a traditional rehab center where intensive rehab and recovery program is offered and require their residents to follow stricter rules. Persons who stay in sober living facilities are allowed to come and go as they please as long as they follow rules. They can go to work or out to attend other activities as long as they are in by a certain time. People living in sober homes generally have to pay for their own rent and food. They are expected to stay clean and sober, so aside from periodic drug tests, residents are also subjected to a random drug test.

Structured living is essential; rules make recovering addicts feel comfortable and safe. The rules formulated by the facility help recovering addicts towards full recovery as they cover everything from addiction to methods of drug testing to the scheduling of chores in the facility.

How Do Sober Living Homes Promote Recovery?

Sober living homes help to reintegrate those who are recovering to get back into everyday life using various resources.  This gives those individuals a fresh start with their recovery.  While each sober living home differs in terms of their structure and the services they provide, some resources they can offer consist of social support, job and career services, assistance in finding housing, individual counseling, and individualized treatment plans, among many others. 

Sober living homes differ from halfway houses and traditional rehabilitation centers, as they give their residents more flexibility to come and go as they please, as long as they are staying sober, consistently adhering to their set house rules, and attending their 12-step meetings (Polcin, Korcha & Bond, 2015).  This gives residents the opportunity to exercise their independence and become proactive in their journey to sobriety.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health

According to the National Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), it was reported that 60% of adults seeking treatment for substance abuse have various mental health conditions, at the very least consisting of anxiety disorders and depression (Polcin, Korcha & Bond, 2015).

While struggling with the everyday obstacles involving staying sober, these individuals often times are also struggling with mental health battles which can make recovery that much more difficult.  Therefore, taking care of substance abuse and mental health conditions while residents are in sober living homes is fundamental in their successful recoveries. Utilizing the services provided, such as counseling and peer support, is crucial to achieving the best overall quality of life.

Mandatory Drug Tests

Employees of sober living homes can be largely classified under the occupation category community and social services. Based on the latest statistics gathered by Substance Abuse Program Administration Association (SAPAA), people in this type of occupation are also susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse. In this connection and as compliance with state and Federal laws, a pre-employment drug test is required. A basic background check will prove helpful too. Below is a table showing illicit drug and alcohol abuse among full-time workers aged 18 to 64.


Among Full-Time Workers Aged 18-64

CSS Occupation All Occupations Average
Illicit Drug Use 4.0% 8.2%
Heavy Alcohol Use 2.8% 8.8%
Illicit Drug Dependence or Abuse 1.4% 2.6%
Alcohol Dependence or Abuse 6.9% 9.2%


Source: http://www.sapaa.com/page/wp_stats_css

Drug Testing in Sober Living Homes

Sober living homes require residents to be completely drug and alcohol-free throughout the duration that they live there.  Each sober living home varies in the amount for which they drug test residents; some don’t require much drug testing, while others utilize it more so. 

Regardless of the sober living home, at some point residents are subject to periodic and random drug tests to ensure honesty; that the residents are making forward progress and maintaining a sober and productive lifestyle. 

Drug testing is crucial in the residents’ recovery process, as it keeps them accountable for their actions and ultimately their own recovery. It promotes autonomy and accountability in one’s journey in maintaining sobriety.  Drug testing not only aids in the individual’s personal recovery, it also contributes to the overall progress and morale of the entire house. 

Sober living homes are housing individuals in similar circumstances; daily physical and emotional battles involved with staying sober, building self-esteem and healthy dynamics within their relationships, transitioning into the real world, along with all of the other unique obstacles involved with achieving sobriety. An individual’s success with clean drug tests facilitates success within the entire household.

A clean drug test speaks volumes. This positive step in the right direction holds the rest of the house to this standard as well. Clean drug tests offer encouragement to the other residents that sobriety is, in fact, possible and can be achieved despite the obstacles they face and its degree of difficulty.

Types of Drug Test

Drug testing conducted based on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) guidelines calls for five illicit drugs namely:

Cocaine (crack)

Amphetamines (meth, ecstasy, crank, speed)

Opiates (heroin, morphine, codeine, opium)

THC (cannabinoids, hash, marijuana)

• Phencyclidine (angel, PCP, dust)

In some cases, alcohol is also included in the drug test.

Drugs have detection windows, which is the amount of time confirmation of their use that can be detected by a drug test. Drugs are eliminated from one’s system at different rates. Alcohol is more quickly absorbed and eliminated from the body.

The following are the estimated length of time these drugs are detectable.

• Alcohol – 1 oz. for 1.5 hours

• Phencyclidine (PCP) – 1 week

• Methadone – 2-3 days

• Methamphetamine – 2-3 days

• Marijuana – casual use, 3-4 days; chronic use, several weeks

• LSD – 8 hours

• Morphine – 2-3 days

• Cocaine – 2-10 days

• Barbiturates – 2-10 days

• Benzodiazepines – 2-3 weeks

• Amphetamines – 48 hours

• Heroin Metabolite – less than 1 day

Taking this into consideration, it is necessary to know which type of drug test is best for determining its time of ingestion.

Urine Drug Test - Standard urine test can detect the presence of up to 14 drugs ingested 3-4 day earlier. Where the collection of a specimen is a problem, there are instant drug urine testing cups and instant drug testing dip cards to facilitate quick and easy drug testing of the most commonly abused drugs.

Saliva Drug Test - This drug test is able to determine current drug ingestion as drug and alcohol residue does not remain in the saliva for long. This method is non-invasive and impossible to cheat. Results can be read in less than 10 minutes.

Hair Drug Test - This drug test is more suitable for getting a person’s drug-use history as far back as 90 days. This test will not indicate the current use of drug and alcohol.

If you have questions regarding which type of drug test to get for the home or workplace, please give us a call.





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Instant Drug Testing Kits for Urine and Saliva for Sober Living Centers