Can You Take Sleeping Aids In A Sober Living?

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Sober livings are optional group homes that serve as a transitional residence for individuals after the completion of a substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program prior to returning home. Instead of immediately returning home, sober living facilities offer a greater level of support in a drug and alcohol free, community environment, while residents continue integrating the newly learned tools and skills related to becoming self-reliant while maintaining sobriety. Each sober living home is different, as most are privately owned. Each sober living facility will have its own set of house rules and regulations as well as corresponding consequences for violations. All sober livings require its residents to abstain from all drug and alcohol use, including most over the counter (OTC) medicines. 

Sleeping Aids

There are a wide variety of OTC sleep aids available. The Mayo Clinic provides the following examples of common over the counter sleep aid options as well as potential side effects:

  • Diphenhydramine (e.g., Benadryl, Aleve PM, etc.): Diphenhydramine is a sedating antihistamine. Side effects might include daytime drowsiness, dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, and urinary retention.
  • Doxylamine (e.g., Unisom SleepMelts): Doxylamine is also a sedating antihistamine. Side effects are like those of diphenhydramine.
  • Melatonin: The hormone melatonin helps control one’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Side effects can include headaches and daytime sleepiness.
  • Valerian: Supplements made from this plant are sometimes taken as sleep aids. The efficacy remains controversial as few studies indicate therapeutic benefits, while other studies haven’t found the same benefits. 

Most sleeping aid medications contain antihistamines to produce sedative effects and can be addictive. For this reason, sleeping aids are generally not permitted in sober living homes. 


The official definition of recovery housing (e.g., sober livings) provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) asserts “substance-free does not prohibit prescribed medications taken as directed by a licensed prescriber, such as pharmacotherapies specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of opioid use disorder as well as other medications with FDA-approved indications for the treatment of co-occurring disorders.” Therefore, an individual diagnosed with a sleep disorder that requires medication and wishes to move into a sober living home may be allowed to bring his or her prescribed sleeping medication, but it remains up to the sole discretion of each sober living facility, respectively. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-318-3777. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at

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