Avoiding negative environments is a major part of facilitating the recovery process and preventing relapse. For many recovering addicts, however, the home environment and all of its stressors can add up to the opposite of a safe space. Enter sober living homes.
Aimed at helping addicts transition back into the community — often after participating in intensive inpatient or residential treatment programs — they can be a helpful option for many with substance use disorders. Here’s what you need to know about sober house living to determine if it’s a good fit for you or a loved one.
The 411 on Sober Living Homes
Sober living homes, also called “halfway houses,” are exactly what they sound like: group homes which are free of alcohol and drugs. Some sober living homes are privately run by groups of sober people who agree to this particular type of living arrangement. Others may be owned by businesses or religious organizations.
Typically, sober living homes follow a co-op model in which residents contribute through rent and chores. However, each operates differently according to its own set of house rules. Additionally, some may have a resident manager while others may have a social model approach. In all cases, sober living homes provide an alternative to returning directly from the structured environment of rehab to a completely unstructured situation.
Regardless of how a home is managed, every resident has to follow the rules to stay in it. Most homes will require residents to sign contracts confirming their commitment to the recovery process. This helps to safeguard the collective recovery of everyone in the home.
The Independence Advantage
One of the major benefits of a sober living home for recovering addicts is the opportunity to start taking control of their own lives while simultaneously investing in their own recoveries. Unlike residential treatment centers, sober living homes have less structure and are therefore more conducive to outside obligations, such as family, work, business, and certain leisure activities. Again, as long as the house rules are met, these activities are generally permissible. (Most sober living homes have a curfew, while many also do require random drug testing; others do not.)
Another benefit of sober living homes is that residents have critical peer support during the early days of recovery. They also provide a safe space in which recovering addicts can learn to fill time that might otherwise have centered around drug and alcohol use with healthy activities. This lays the groundwork for healthy lifelong habits and behaviors, even after a return to normal life during which addicts are more likely to be exposed to drinking or using.
For these and other reasons, research indicates that recovery housing can be a valuable resource for addicts. Concludes one Psychiatric Services article, “Results on the effectiveness of recovery housing suggested positive substance use outcomes and improvements in functioning, including employment and criminal activity….Recovery housing appears to be an important component in the continuum of care for some individuals.”
Is Sober Living Right For You?
This isn’t to say that sober living homes are right for everybody at every time. Because of the level of freedom involved in sober living homes, they are most suitable for people who are ready to be accountable for their own actions and recovery. As such, many require that residents have undergone some type of rehab prior to living there. Other groups may also require continued treatment and/or participation in rehab programs.
In all cases, if an addict is not fully committed to recovery and/or ready to assume personal responsibility, a move to sober living may be premature — especially if additional detox or monitoring is required.
Conversely, those who are eager to take the next step toward sobriety may find a sober living home to be an invaluable stepping stone en route to a return to the “real” world.
To learn more about how St. Louis drug rehab program Harris House can help you or a loved one on the journey to a substance-free life, contact us today.