Sober living homes, or transitional housing, provides a middle ground between a structured treatment center and full integration into society and regular everyday life. A sober living home can be a great way for a person to ease back into the community slowly after addiction treatment.
What Is a Sober Living Home?
A sober living home is usually a house within the community, sometimes maintained or connected in some way to a treatment facility or community-based addiction treatment center. In these homes, small groups of people who have completed an addiction treatment program will reside together. The number of residents often depends on the size of the house.
Generally, there will be a range of people in recovery in a sober living home. For example, some people may be further along in recovery than others, and this can provide hope, encouragement, and mentorship for those just moving in who are new to recovery.
The main rule in a sober living home is that individuals remain free from drugs and alcohol. Residents are also expected to follow the house rules, help with chores, and keep up with rent payments. Helping to prepare meals and clean up around the house can restore a sense of self-reliance and purpose. Responsibilities can be slowly added in as a person moves through recovery and becomes ready to handle more responsibility.
Most sober living homes do not require individuals to continue with formal addiction treatment; however, participation in support group meetings, therapy, educational opportunities, and aftercare or alumni services is often encouraged. The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs publishes that individuals who participated actively and regularly in a 12-Step program (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) while residing in a sober living home were more likely to remain abstinent for longer than those who didn’t.
A sober living environment can provide individuals with social support and a healthy peer network upon reentrance into society after treatment. Addiction is a relapsing disease, as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports addiction relapse rates that are between 40 and 60 percent. Per NIDA, treatment should last at least 90 days and then be followed with some form of ongoing and lasting support to minimize relapse. In a sober living home, individuals have time to keep practicing habits, coping mechanisms, and new life skills in a safe environment.
Questions to Ask When Looking for a Sober Living Home
There are many factors that contribute to addiction and how it affects each person, making treatment highly variable. Just as addiction treatment varies in terms of offerings and programs, sober living homes are not all exactly the same. Finding the right fit can be extremely beneficial to a sustained recovery.
A sober living home can serve as a great transitional environment between the intense structure of an inpatient addiction treatment program where sleep times, meals, meetings, workshops, and sessions are all strictly scheduled and back home where individuals are in charge of every aspect of their own lives. In a sober living home, the pressures of “real” life are not quite as great.
The social support provided by other residents in a sober living home can be ideal in early recovery, as each resident has the same overarching goal of continued abstinence. The brain is often damaged by chronic drug and alcohol use and can take time to heal. Medical and mental health personnel may continue to provide check-ins with residents of a sober living home and help to manage medications and any co-occurring disorders that are simultaneously being treated.
While living in a sober living home, individuals may begin to return to aspects of “normal” life. Some may return to work or school, for instance. Families may spend time together during the evenings and weekends.
Overall, a sober living home may help to minimize relapse and encourage long-term recovery. Substance abuse treatment providers are great resources when looking for a sober living home, and addiction treatment programs can often provide referrals to homes in the area.