Sample Schedule for a Day in Sober Living

According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 21.2 million Americans aged 12 or older needed substance use treatment in the past year. That’s 1 in 13 people aged 12 or older (7.8%). However, only about 3.7 million (1.4%) people aged 12 or older received any substance use treatment in the past year and only about 2.4 million (0.9%) people received substance use treatment at a specialty facility in the past year.1

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s principles of effective treatment, no single treatment is appropriate for everyone, and there are many different treatment styles and settings available.2 Although standardized treatment programs used to be the norm in the addiction treatment space, today it’s based on a person’s individual needs, which are carefully assessed during admission and intake.3

Some people may benefit from intense, medically managed inpatient care. Others may find that a community residential, or sober-living, outpatient program meets their needs. And yet others may step down from a high level of care to a lower level of care, finding that a sober-living residential facility helps them make a smooth, sober transition from inpatient treatment to independent living.

There’s no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all treatment schedule, however, a sample daily schedule from a sober living treatment program may help to alleviate some of the fear and anxiety you may face as you seek treatment for substance use disorder.

What Do Patients in Sober Living Programs Do?

Sober living environments provide structure and support for people in recovery. There are activities and events scheduled on a daily or regular basis. The intensity and amount of treatment will vary based on a person’s individual needs, and activities may include:

  • Group therapy, which provides a supportive environment that promotes a drug-free lifestyle.2
  • Individual therapy, where you work one-on-one with a therapist, learning ways to cope without drugs or alcohol, as well as strategies for dealing with triggers to use that come up in everyday life.3
  • Family therapy, as family can play a critical role and may strengthen and benefit an individual’s treatment and help to support abstinence during recovery.5
  • Mutual-help group meetings are a vital component of drug rehabilitation, during treatment as well as for continued support long after residential treatment and sober living transitional treatment have ended.6
  • Other activities, including time for exercise, meditation sessions, dance classes, music therapy or art therapy, may also be included.7-10

Sober living treatment facilities provide three nutritious meals per day, helping to balance out nutritional deficiencies that may have taken hold during addiction. These mealtimes also allow clients to socialize with each other and provide structure to the day.

Sober living can provide a degree of freedom combined with a schedule, a network of supportive peers, and a staff member, such as a house manager, who can check in with you and help you stay on the right track.

Addiction treatment plans—regardless of the type of facility—should be individualized and attend to multiple needs of each individual: the drug abuse as well as any associated medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems.2 Treatment must also be appropriate to each individual’s age, gender, ethnicity, and culture.2

An Average Daily Schedule in Sober Living

Here’s what a typical schedule for an intensive outpatient sober living facility may look like (some programs may be less intense):

  • 7 a.m.: Wake-up; time for personal hygiene, nurse checks, and medicine administration
  • 8 a.m.: Breakfast
  • 9-10:30 a.m.: Individual therapy session
  • 10:45 a.m.-12 p.m.: Group therapy session
  • 12:30 p.m.: Lunch
  • 1:30-3 p.m.: Exercise (e.g., yoga classes, free time to work out in the facility gym, swimming, etc.)
  • 3-4:30 p.m.: Free time (e.g., journaling, meditation, etc.)
  • 4:45-6 p.m.: Complementary therapy session (e.g., art therapy, dance therapy, music therapy, equine-assisted therapy, etc.)
  • 6:30 p.m.: Dinner
  • 8-9:30 p.m.: 12-Step meeting
  • 9:45-10:45 p.m.: Quiet time in rooms
  • 11 p.m.: Lights out

Specific schedules will vary according to the treatment facility in question, but clients can expect a set level of structure at all facilities.


  1. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2019). Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition): Principles of effective treatment.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition): Types of treatment programs.
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019).
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition): How can family and friends make a difference in the life of someone needing treatment?
  6. Kelly, J. F., & Yeterian, J. D. (2011). The role of mutual-help groups in extending the framework of treatment. Alcohol Research & Health, 33(4), 350–355.
  7. Hohmann, L., Bradt, J., Stegemann, T., & Koelsch, S. (2017). Effects of music therapy and music-based interventions in the treatment of substance use disorders: A systematic review. PloS One, 12(11), e0187363.
  8. Weinstock, J., Farney, M. R., Elrod, N. M., Henderson, C. E., & Weiss, E. P. (2017). Exercise as an Adjunctive Treatment for Substance Use Disorders: Rationale and Intervention Description. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 72, 40–47.
  9. Aletraris, L., Paino, M., Edmond, M. B., Roman, P. M., & Bride, B. E. (2014). The use of art and music therapy in substance abuse treatment programs. Journal of Addictions Nursing, 25(4), 190–196.
  10. Priddy, S. E., Howard, M. O., Hanley, A. W., Riquino, M. R., Friberg-Felsted, K., & Garland, E. L. (2018). Mindfulness meditation in the treatment of substance use disorders and preventing future relapse: Neurocognitive mechanisms and clinical implications. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, 9, 103–114.
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