The Best U.S. Cities for Sober Living

A header image for a blog about the best cities for living sober

For some, sobriety is a long-term battle, but for others, it is simply a goal to live healthier by choice. While “pulling a geographic” isn’t necessarily a cut-and-dry solution, surrounding yourself with the proper programs and like-minded individuals is a great way to start on the road to recovery. Whether you are struggling with addiction or simply looking for activities that don’t revolve around drinking or recreational drug use, the team at Diabetic.org sought out the U.S. cities that set you up for long-term, sober living success.

Key Findings

  • Madison, WI is the best city for sober living with a score of 83.73 out of 100. This is due to its affordability and high number of SAMHSA health treatment centers. The city’s volunteer opportunities and park access make it the top-rated for our community and activity score, as well.
  • When it comes to limiting temptations, Provo, UT is the best city in the U.S. because of its few bars and low percentage of population that report drinking heavily.
  • Indianapolis, IN is ranked as our best city when it comes to sobriety infrastructure and opportunity. This is driven by its relatively high number of recovery homes, SAMHSA health treatment centers, and affordable housing options.

The 10 Best Cities for Sober Living

A graphic showing the 10 best U.S. cities for sober living.

The best city for sober living in the U.S. was Madison, WI. Madison scored very well in the infrastructure and community categories, thanks to a high number of SAMHSA health treatment centers and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings per capita. The city also has easy access to parks and many opportunities to get involved in volunteer work, like helping the Friends of the State Street Family provide homeless people with meals, clothing, and other essentials.

Harrisburg, PA, was just barely edged out of first place. Harrisburg scored well because of the number of social associations in the area that people can join to form a sense of community. Compared to other cities in the country, Harrisburg has plenty of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting locations and offers more affordable living arrangements.

Durham, NC, comes in third place due to its opportunity in the form of affordable housing options, low unemployment rate, and a fair amount of addiction recovery facilities per capita. In November 2019, almost 80% of The Bull City’s voting residents said yes to a $95 million dollar bond for affordable housing. Durham’s comprehensive housing strategy details its plans to create 1,600 new housing units and preserve 800 more.

Very closely behind Durham was Des Moines, IA. Des Moines excels in our ranking due to its steady scores across each category, meaning it has fewer temptations, strong opportunities, and a tight sense of community thanks to volunteer options and social associations per capita. If you’re new to the city, Des Moines has many networking groups that enable you to connect with locals and feel more at home.

Last but not least, in our top five list is Indianapolis, IN. Indianapolis performed well because it has a high number of recovery homes, SAMHSA health treatment centers, and a better-than-average alcohol and drug use rate. Indianapolis is also more affordable than other U.S. cities; the overall cost of living in Indiana is 12% below the national average.

The Best Cities for Sober Living by Category

A U.S. map showing the best cities for sober living by category.

Looking at the soberest cities by category, we recognize Provo for its exceptionally low alcohol consumption and drug use rates. With only three bars and stricter laws regarding alcohol statewide, Provo proves itself to be a fine choice for those trying to avoid being surrounded by alcohol and other forms of temptation. The Mormon capital of The Salt Lake State also has far fewer deaths by overdose than other cities in the country, making it one of the best drug-free places to live.

Indianapolis won first place for sobriety infrastructure because of its high number of recovery homes and health treatment services per capita. This is partly due to the state’s Housing to Recovery fund launched in 2019, which set out to raise millions of dollars to increase housing stability and provide better access to healthcare. Since its inception, the program has been able to help 128 formerly homeless individuals, many of whom were addicts, find stable housing.

Madison, WI, wins first place for community and activity because it has plenty of parks and trails for those looking to get outside and be more active. The city also excels in having many nonprofit organizations to volunteer at, making it a great place to stay active and involved with the rest of the community.

Sober Living in the U.S. Facts and Figures

Interested in learning more about our rankings? Sort through our full data table below to find out where your city ranks based on our individual factors.

Closing Thoughts

Simply relocating from one place to another might not be the key to achieving sobriety. Going sober is often an uphill battle for many, but it helps to have the right tools for success. Depending on where you currently are, it might be helpful to move to a different location that has the tools and other like-minded individuals you need to surround yourself with to progress on your sobriety journey. On the other hand, you might be someone who is looking to get away from your current locale’s nightlife and party scene. Whatever your situation is, there’s a city with the resources and community you need to achieve your goals.

One motivation for those seeking a sober lifestyle might come from other medical conditions, like diabetes. If you’re one of the millions of Americans struggling with it, Diabetic.org can help you achieve better health outcomes by offering the latest information on symptoms, treatments, nutrition, medical research, and breakthroughs in diabetes care.

If you are currently struggling with addiction, SAMHSA has resources that can help you begin or continue your journey to sobriety. Their national helpline is 1-800-622-4357.

Methodology

To determine the best cities for sober living in the U.S., we began by creating a list of 100 large U.S. cities and researched individual factors on each that would be important for someone trying to stay sober. Once we compiled the data, we analyzed it and ranked the cities from 1 to 100 based on the quality of life they can give someone leading a sober life.

We assigned cities with a score of 0 to 5 for each factor we researched with a score of 5 representing the most favorable conditions. We then determined each city’s score from the total of its individual factor scores, which were weighted according to their impact on sober living. Individual factor scores were then added together to give each city a final score from 0 to 100. Higher scores indicate cities are better suited for sober living.

To paint a more vivid picture of sobriety opportunity, we broke our 26 factors down into three categories: temptation, sobriety infrastructure, and community engagement. Find out which cities are the best in each category and overall sober living below!

Ranking FactorWeightSource
Temptation Factors
Alcohol consumption (in gallons)1.50Vine Pair
Number of Illicit drug users per 100k people1.25SAMHSA
% of the population that drinks excessively1.50County Health Rankings
% of the population that are non-drinkers1.00City-Data
% of the population that smokes weed0.75City-Data
% of the population that uses hard drugs1.00City-Data
Number of bars per 100k people0.50YellowPages
Overdose deaths per 100k people0.50CDC
Sobriety Infrastructure & Opportunity Factors
Number of recovery homes per 100k people1.00National Library of Medicine
Number of Addiction Recovery Rehab, Counseling, & Mental Health Facilities per 100k people1.00Yelp
SAMHSA health treatment services per 100k people1.75SAMHSA
% of Adults with Symptoms of Anxiety/Depressive Disorders0.50KFF
Number of meditation classes per 100k people0.25YellowPages
AA locations by state per 100k people0.50AA.org
NA meetings per 100k people1.00NA.org
Unemployment rate1.75BLS
Meidan house sale price0.25NAR
Monthly average rent estimate0.50Rent.com
Homelessness population per 1,000 people0.50HUD
Community & Activity Factors
Number of nonprofits per 10k people2.00Governing
% of residents that volunteer1.50AmeriCorps.gov
Number of social associations per 100k people1.75County Health Rankings
% of the population within 10-minute walk of a park1.00Trust for Public Land
% of land used for parks0.50Trust for Public Land
Number of parks per 100k people0.25Trust for Public Land
Number of trails per 100k people0.75Trail Link

Fact Checked and Editorial Process

Diabetic.org is devoted to producing expert and accurate articles and information for our readers by hiring experts, journalists, medical professionals, and our growing Diabetic.org community. We encourage you to read more about our content, editing, and fact checking methods here.

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