Living in a sober living community can make a big impact on those committed to sobriety, especially if they’ve primarily used substances in social settings in the past. It is important to remember, however, that finding a great sober living community is different from apartment hunting. After all, it is meant to provide more than just housing—it is designed to help those in recovery to maintain their sobriety. If you’re looking to reside in a sober living community, these 6 questions can help you narrow down your options and determine which one is right for you.
1. “What are the costs?”
A sober living community is a supplement to recovery. While living in a sober living home, also known as halfway homes, rent may only be one part of the monthly fees you would have to pay. Utilities and food expenses may or may not be included. Oftentimes, sober living communities also charge fines for violations of house rules, which could be as minor as .25 cents for swearing in the house or as high as loss of rent monies in facilities that have zero tolerance and immediate eviction rules. Collections for birthdays, late fees and drug testing fees can also add up quickly if not included in your monthly budget.
2. “What are the rules?”
The rules of the sober living community are crucial to assisting residents in maintaining sobriety and to helping strangers get along in a family setting. At times, however, the rules can be unexpected and burdensome. For example, having a curfew or scheduled chores can feel unnecessarily prohibitive to an adult who has been living independently for about 20 years. These rules can be found in almost every sober living community as they help both the residents and the stability of the sober living community. Most will have the rules written out and available for you to sign. Read them carefully, understand that they are rules you will have to live with and ask questions about anything that is not clear to you.
3. “What is the average length of stay?”
In most cases, sober living communities are not designed to be long-term housing solutions, but effective homes will have limited turnover. Often, a 90 day commitment is required. If residents are leaving after one or two weeks, it could be a sign that the home is not functioning well due to residents relapsing and leaving or its conditions being difficult for recovering addicts to bear. Knowing the average length of stay also helps you prepare for your next step after the sober living community.
4. “Is the home registered with authorities?”
Depending on jurisdiction in the area, a sober living community may or may not need to be registered with the state or local authorities. This is important because if the sober living community is registered or licensed, it may be possible to obtain information regarding the facility. A state that licenses sober living homes may provide annual inspections. Zoning boards may limit the number of sober living communities and other boarding houses with non-related adults living together within a residential area. If the home is not registered when they are located in an area where they are required to be, the facility could be closed down at any time with little or no notice.
5. “Will my private room always be private and are there any other potential changes I should expect?”
A great situation today may not be so great in another week, especially if drastic changes take place within the home. Often, the most dramatic change would be the addition of other residents. If this means you get a new roommate, then your experience in the sober living community could change significantly. Knowing that such changes are possible and what your options are is good to know up front.
6. “Is there a house manager or equivalent available 24/7 on site?”
One of the primary sources of conflict in a sober living community occurs when residents have disagreements and a neutral party is not present to intervene. Leaving the responsibility of observing and reporting intoxicated residents to other residents can also be a problematic situation. While having a house manager present on the grounds at all times can seem impractical, doing so can, more often than not, help prevent certain issues from escalating.
Sober living communities are not for everyone, but they can be a vital step for some before returning to their regular unsupervised environments. Finding the right match, however, is the key to ensuring a successful sober living experience. Remember to ask many questions and seek advice from a trusted supporter before signing an agreement.