After completing an addiction treatment program for a substance use disorder, some may mistakenly believe they are good to go. But because this early phase of recovery is so fragile, returning to your regular life too soon can trip up even the most committed person. To give yourself the best chance of succeeding in recovery, consider spending a few months in a sober living home.
Sober living offers a kind of safe retreat that acts as a transitional living environment. These residential communities offer a bridge between the highly structured treatment environment and the full freedom of normal life. Sober living provides the needed time to develop some new sober lifestyle habits and friendships.
What is Sober Living?
Sober living refers to a type of supportive housing that offers residents a substance-free living space. Generally, a sober living home will house six to eight people, with two roommates to each bedroom. A house manager oversees the daily activities in the house, including the distribution of housework, cooking, and other duties, and ensures that the house rules are being followed. The house manager also convenes a weekly house meeting, which provides residents with an opportunity to engage in productive discussions and to air any grievances.
Sober living housing is an important component of recovery because it provides those in the early stages of their journey to live in an environment that is safe and supportive. A sober living home also provides the structure to help establish a healthy new daily routine in recovery. All this works together to help someone in early recovery to get back on their feet.
5 Benefits of Sober Living Homes
A quality sober living home is, first and foremost, actively managed, clean, and has a relaxed atmosphere. House rules are clearly stated and enforced. Mandatory house meetings and participating in Twelve-Step meetings should also be included.
The sober residence must be substance-free with a zero-tolerance policy for substance use or possession. Residents share the household responsibilities equally and support each other’s recovery efforts. There is a clear sense of purpose conveyed by the owner or manager that they are truly committed to helping support your recovery.
When all these features are present, the sober living experience can offer plentiful benefits for someone in early recovery. These include:
- A Substance-Free Safety Zone. Although triggers come in many forms, one universal trigger for potential relapse in early recovery is the very presence of a substance. Reduce the risk of this potential recovery hazard by staying in a sober living community after treatment. Sober living homes have strict policies forbidding the presence of substances on the premises.
- Practice What You Learned in Treatment. Treatment programs teach helpful life skills and coping tools for managing daily stressors. Living in a sober living home offers an opportunity to practice these, such as communication skills and conflict resolution, and holistic relaxation techniques. Sober living helps you reinforce the new healthy coping skills before attempting to transition back to regular home life.
- Replace Bad Habits with New, Healthy Ones. Substance use can leave someone with unhealthy and unproductive habits. Staying in sober living for a few months can provide the structure and motivation to establish new healthy lifestyle habits. Making improvements in diet, embracing regular exercise, and keeping a regular sleep schedule helps restore overall wellness.
- Being Part of a Supportive Community. In recovery, it is essential to remove toxic people from your life and to make new friends who value sobriety as much as you do. Living in a sober living community provides a built-in peer support system. Fellow residents, as well as the support staff, can offer encouragement and friendship in early recovery.
- Personal Responsibility and Accountability. Sober housing reintroduces the concept of being accountable for your own actions. With house rules to help guide residents, random substance testing, plus a strong desire to avoid disappointing fellow housemates, sober living offers a powerful deterrent to relapse.
In early recovery, the brain is still healing. Old behavioral reflexes still threaten to undo all the hard work of achieving sobriety. A sober living community can provide the time needed to practice new skills and solidify your recovery before returning home.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.