The range of sober living homes is vast. Reasons for choosing sober living are many. Sober living homes began due to a need for safe environments for addicts in early recovery. Many times a sober living environment is the least expensive and safest place for a person's recovery to gain a strong foundation.
What Is a Sober Living Home?
These are often regular homes, in regular neighborhoods, used for housing recovering addicts who need a safe place to live. Some are small motels or apartment complexes. The idea is similar to the halfway houses used for people leaving prison. Sober living homes are sometimes run by recovering addicts.
Bedrooms or apartments are usually shared, unless an addict can afford to pay for a private room. Houses may have community kitchens and living areas, shared with all house mates. Some sober living facilities may provide prepared meals, while lower-cost sober living homes will allow each addict to prepare their own meals or to cook as a group. Some homes may employ managers who also prepare meals for an additional charge.
The structure is provided to support clean and sober living to strengthen early recovery. Managers and other employees may live in the house, or work there, depending on the program itself. Most programs or houses have rules governing the addicts living there to make it safe for everyone. These rules cover curfew, group living rules, cleanliness, and cost of services provided.
Addicts may have assigned chores, and requirements to attend sober recovery meetings and keep their space clean. They may rotate the duties of general housekeeping or have a paid maid service. There are also rules regarding relapse and how it is handled. Again, some of these rules depend on the cost for living in the home.
Reasons for Sober Living Homes
- After Treatment: Addicts in early recovery may go into a treatment program for stabilization. After completing a program, it is recognized that the more support the addict receives in maintaining their new sober lifestyle, the more chance they have for remaining sober and clean. Many addicts need to shift completely away from their previous living situation. This can be done in a sober living home. As the addict stabilizes more completely, they may need to start life over.
- Employment: Some addicts need education to revise or improve their job skills. Some will enter the workforce again, and others have jobs or careers that have been jeopardized by substance abuse. As recovering addicts begin to gain financial stability, they may move on from the sober living environment.
- Family: Other addicts may have damaged family relationships to the extent that they are unable to return to their home for some time. As they begin their sober journey, they may decide to end their family situation or it may become stable once again. Either way, sober living will allow them a safe place to live with sober people while they work through these damaged relationships.
- Legal: Many addicts have legal issues to overcome. These may range from court orders for long-term treatment to child custody issues. Sober living homes can be used to adhere to court orders for treatment services. Addicts may go into a primary treatment program for 60 or 90 days and then step down into a sober living environment to satisfy court orders for ongoing, long-term treatment. Courts have recognized the stability that is gained through sober living programs, compared to the potential problems posed by addicts returning to the home where they were using or drinking.
What Else Can I Expect in Sober Living?
Each home is different, as stated above. Some of the services that can be provided by sober living homes include:
- help with job placement, which may include resume and interview skills
- letters of compliance for courts
- assistance to obtain food stamps for those who are indigent
- links to agencies for services in the community
Some sober living homes will require meeting attendance in AA or other recovery support groups. They also often require that members of the home obtain a sponsor to work with during recovery.
Some sober living homes may require that members either work or attend school. There may be rules regarding overnight guests or passes for leaving on overnight visits to family and friends. Each program will have different regulations and services.
Addicts living in sober living homes may attend Aftercare programs or therapy sessions, some may even be provided by the sober living home itself. Most often, the goal is to continue to support the early recovery of the addict by offering physical, emotional and social services needed by each person. The program may include random and regular testing for drug or alcohol use. There is usually a group meeting to work out any problems clients may have with staff, rules, roommates or other issues.
How Do I Find a Sober Living Home?
There are numerous ways to find sober living homes. Agencies are often listed online. Some states have community groups that oversee how sober living homes are operated. There are coalitions that have formed across the U.S. to regulate and train personnel who work in this field, as well as to provide standards for how the homes are run. Looking online for these coalitions will provide listings of homes that are up to regulation standards.
Some treatment programs will refer clients to specific sober living homes that meet their personal needs. Others will give each addict a list of homes they are aware of or help them search for a placement after they complete the program. Many treatment programs have opened sober living homes to assist their clients who need that type of support for ongoing stability in their recovery.
Therapists and sober coaches, counselors and treatment providers can often give clients a list of sober living programs with which they are familiar. Other recovering members of support groups such as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous can often give such information as well. Some of them may be former residents of these agencies.
Contact any sober living homes that are available and ask for additional referrals if the first one is not a good fit. There are many options available. It may take some work to find the best sober living situation for each person.