Substance use recovery is a constant work in progress. For this reason, the post-treatment phase of the recovery process is just as critical as the day you entered recovery. In order to sustain sobriety, you need a supportive network around you—sober living provides just that.
Sober living housing can provide a great deal of emotional and psychological support in the early days of recovery. Most people who choose to reside in a sober living home are very committed to their recovery, which creates a mutually supportive environment among the residents. Continue reading to learn all about the benefits of sober living in the early phase of recovery.
What is sober living?
A sober living home is transitional housing that acts as a stepping-stone between completing treatment and returning back home. Sober living housing provides a supportive, comfortable living space that is free of substances. The substance-free living space removes one of the most common triggers in early recovery, exposure to drugs or alcohol.
As important as the absence of substances is, the purpose of sober living is actually multi-faceted. The combination of providing structure, time to adjust to sobriety, access to peer support, and regular testing makes the sober living home environment easier to avoid relapse.
Benefits of sober living
After completing treatment, the primary focus of daily life will be on sustaining sobriety. This is accomplished by taking various continuing care treatments. These include outpatient therapy, participating in a recovery community, establishing healthy lifestyle habits, and possibly sober living.
Three benefits of sober living include:
- Regular substance testing deters relapse: A zero tolerance policy for substance use is meaningless unless there is a system in place that helps the house maintain its substance-free status. Regular drug and alcohol testing provides a powerful deterrent to relapse, helping to reinforce sobriety in those vulnerable early months of recovery.
- Peer support reinforces commitment to sobriety: The social support provided in a sober living home is immensely helpful during early recovery. Just being around others can help combat loneliness and boredom, two common relapse triggers. Most importantly, housemates who share the common goal of sobriety can encourage each other to stay the course.
- The opportunity to establish a healthy routine: Returning to the home environment too soon can be risky. It can be very tempting to fall back into old habits, since the recovery skills you learned in treatment have not yet been practiced. Spending a few months in a sober living home gives you time to establish a healthy new daily routine, and an opportunity to exercise the coping skills acquired in treatment.
What to look for in a sober living home
Not all sober living homes are equal. When seeking a quality sober living home, look for the following characteristics:
- A firm commitment to enforcing the substance-free policy: The house manager should provide consistent testing and enforce strict disciplinary actions when someone breaks this critical house rule.
- Structure and organization: The home should be well managed, clean, and orderly. Residents should adhere to a daily wake/sleep and meal schedule.
- Participation in 12 – Step or recovery group meetings: Active participation in a local recovery support group should be a mandatory requirement for residents.
- Expectations for employment: Sober housing is a transitional phase of recovery allowing the newly sober individual to get back on their feet, but should require that residents seek employment.
- Weekly house meetings: Mandatory participation in weekly house meetings provides a forum where members of the household can discuss issues safely.
- Strict House rules: Strong house management cultivates a sense of accountability through the expectation that house rules will be adhered to.
One of the most proactive steps you can take to protect your newfound sobriety after completing treatment is to reside in a sober living home. This provides you with the time you need to adjust to a new sober lifestyle while safeguarding your recovery.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.