Sobering Center: A Place of Recovery and Hope

Learn more about how a sobering center can help you achieve your recovery goals and maintain your sobriety.

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What Is a Sobering Center?

A sobering center helps individuals who need immediate detox support. Sobering programs provide short-term care for people experiencing the effects of acute drug or alcohol intoxication.1

Sobering programs are a safe, supervised alternative to jail or emergency rooms. A sobering center commonly provides individuals with a safe environment for those who may be uninsured, homeless, or have other barriers related to detox treatment.2

Horizon Treatment Services provides two sobering centers: Mission Street Recovery Station and Cherry Hill

sobering center

What Treatments Occur in Sobering Programs?

The goal of a sobering program is to provide a safe and comfortable space to recover from severe intoxication. Clients at a sobering center are monitored throughout their time in the center. This reduces the risk of medical emergencies related to overdose or alcohol poisoning.3

Another key goal of the sobering center staff is to help clients connect with community services that can help them with extended treatment or other aftercare-related needs. 

At a treatment center, you can find supported detoxification and counseling programs. Programs with qualified staff may use interventions such as motivational interviewing.4

How Does a Sobering Center Differ From Other Forms of Treatment?

Sobering programs are sometimes confused with other forms of addiction treatment. It is important to clarify how the services of a sobering center differ from other services to ensure that you or a loved one get the most effective treatment for your needs.  

Sobering Center vs. Detoxification

Sobering programs provide short-term services. The time spent in a sobering program is limited to the hours required for someone to “sober up.” 

How long it takes depends on a few factors, including:

  • One’s level of intoxication when they arrive
  • The substance or substances they used
  • The center’s capacity

Depending on one’s needs, they may be at the center for between four and twenty-four hours. The services provided at a sobering program offer supervision to those who are unstable and may pose a danger to themselves or others. 

A sobering program is not meant to help someone achieve lasting sobriety. It is meant to give them the added support they need on the first day of recovery. 


Detoxification programs help you quit using or drinking before beginning a treatment program. The services provided at a detox program include medical and mental health supervision by trained and licensed professionals. 

Detoxification programs often also allow for the use of medication to help reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. 

However, many sobering programs do not have licensed medical providers on staff. Therefore, medically supervised detox management cannot occur at the sobering program. Many centers will provide resources and outreach for added treatment, though.

Sobering Center vs. Addiction Treatment

Sobering programs may also be confused with addiction treatment programs. Outpatient, residential, and other addiction treatment programs aim to help you achieve total sobriety. Again, the goal of a sobering center is to help someone experiencing the effects of acute intoxication sober up in a safe space. 

Comprehensive addiction treatment programs offered at Horizon Treatment Services are a crucial next step in the recovery journey. Sobering programs strive to help people transition from the services provided at a sobering facility to a treatment program for treatment.

Addiction treatment programs develop individualized treatment plans to help you achieve and maintain recovery. Providers use various therapeutic models to help you overcome challenges that may lead to drug or alcohol use. Individualized treatment programs are vital to achieving success in treatment.

Sobering Center vs. Sober Living

Another important distinction is the difference between a sobering center and sober living. Sober living communities and sober living arrangements are generally part of an aftercare program.

Therefore, when someone spends time in a sober living community, it generally occurs after addiction treatment ends. Sober living houses offer a transition between treatment and returning home. 

Sober Living Programs

Depending on the needs of the individual, they may remain in a sober living home for several weeks or months. 

Sober living programs also involve:

  • Ongoing counseling
  • Peer support groups
  • Various types of counseling
  • Support from on-site providers

How Does Getting Sober Help with Recovery?

If you or a loved one lives with a drug or alcohol addiction, getting sober is the first step in your recovery. It is difficult to engage in counseling if addiction’s physical and psychological effects remain.

The journey to recovery can begin at a sobering center or in a supported detox program. These programs provide medical and mental health care during the early stages of withdrawal. 

Access to detox support helps you get sober without the unpleasant influence of withdrawal effects. Once your body is clean of any remaining drugs or alcohol, you can move forward in counseling. These first steps in sobriety can help you achieve and maintain lasting recovery.

Improving Overall Health

Getting sober is also vital in improving your physical and psychological health. Long-term substance use can affect your physical and emotional health. 

Like many diseases, addiction harms critical body systems. Long-term substance use can change the structure and function of several organs in the body. Drug and alcohol use harm the brain, stomach, heart, and lungs. 

Regular, untreated substance use can also worsen or lead to new mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety. Seeking treatment and getting sober can start to reverse the effects of long-term substance use on your medical and psychological health.

Additional Impacts of Long-Term Addiction

In addition to physical and emotional difficulties arising from long-term addiction, social, financial, and legal challenges also occur. Untreated addiction has a profound effect on personal and social relationships. The economic impact of addiction can damage your overall financial wellness and your family’s financial stability. 

Many with untreated addiction struggle to stay on top of financial obligations due to spending money on obtaining substances to maintain their addiction. Sometimes this can lead to legal challenges and other repercussions.

sobering center

Get Help With Horizon Treatment Services’ Sobering Centers

A sobering center is not meant to cure or treat substance use disorders. However, the hours spent in a sobering program can be the first step towards recovery, healing, and a lifetime of improved health and wellness. 

Our team at Horizon Treatment Services is here to help you continue your sobriety journey after leaving a local sobering center. Our sobering center programs include: 

  • Cherry Hill Detox: Located in San Leandro, our 50-bed sobering center was specifically designed to help those needing immediate sobering services for a visit of 23 hours or less. During this time, our staff can provide screening to help assess what further treatment you may need.
  • Mission Street Recovery Station: Our sobering center in San Jose provides drug, alcohol, and mental health triage support services. This program is an alternative to incarceration or hospitalization, and we work to help stabilize the individual and provide a direct link to further treatment.