For individuals who have completed a detox and residential treatment program, sober living can be a significant intermediate step for those attempting to secure their hard-fought recovery into the long term. Sober living, a sober home or (erroneously) a halfway house, is a supportive and structured living environment designed to assist individuals recovering from substance abuse and addiction. It is a transitional step between residential treatment or rehab and returning to independent living. The primary goal of sober living is to provide a safe and substance-free space where individuals can continue their recovery journey while building the skills and support network necessary for a successful, long-term, drug- and alcohol-free life.
Sober living’s power comes from the rules guiding each community member. These rules will vary between communities, but here’s a general outline of their most fundamental principles:
- Sobriety: Excuse the obvious point. As is undoubtedly self-evident, sober living homes strictly enforce a no-drug and no-alcohol policy. Residents are expected to abstain from substance use during their stay. As a precaution against temptation, possessing intoxicating substances is typically forbidden, even if the owner does not plan on consuming them at any point. For the benefit of the owner of the substance and the benefit of those around them, it is best that there be no intoxicating substances in a sober living community to reduce the risk of relapse.
- Supportive Community: Sober living homes often house multiple individuals in recovery, creating a supportive and empathetic community. Residents share their experiences, challenges, and successes, fostering a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose.
- Structure and Accountability: Residents are usually required to adhere to a set of rules and guidelines, such as curfews, attending support group meetings (like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous), and contributing to household chores. These rules will vary by community, but every sober living community will have rules to help their residents stay in recovery. Staying grounded in a schedule and manageable responsibilities keeps residents of sober living communities goal-oriented and tethered in the lives of those around them.
- Drug Testing: Random drug testing is often conducted to ensure compliance with sobriety requirements. This is not a punitive measure; rather, it is a way of ensuring accountability for all residents by eliminating the sense that one can “get away with” relapsing.
- Peer Support: Residents often have access to peer support and counseling services, which can be crucial for maintaining sobriety and addressing emotional and psychological challenges.
In sober living, people are encouraged to restart some of their own routines that they may have stepped back from while detoxing or during their stay in residential treatment. The power of sober living comes from the mutually reinforcing power that comes from existing in the world without substance abuse while witnessing others successfully make the same changes. Not only does recovery and sobriety become a
Many people in recovery have never experienced an environment without substance abuse until they enter rehab. While rehab and residential treatment can be a revelation, a sober living community can provide one with a real experience of what life can be like in the real world without substance abuse. Invitations to a bar, for example, aren’t innocent, as they might be in the outside world. They’re explicitly frowned upon. After rehab and residential treatment, people have typically been given the insights, coping mechanisms, and therapies they need to understand and manage their addiction. But a sober living community can give them an opportunity to put all of that work into practice.
This “hands-on” experience can be life-changing for those who are attempting to chart a new path for themselves without substance abuse. Sober living communities can be mutually self-affirming; it’s far harder to feel alone in recovery if everyone within the community is going through the same thing. Correspondingly, it’s easier to seek help (and to seek it without fear of judgment) if everyone in proximity is also in recovery. But perhaps most importantly, it can be hard to understand exactly how life in recovery can really work during inpatient treatment. People newly in recovery often report feeling anxious about staying sober once they leave inpatient treatment. But in a sober living community, residents will get a chance to act on their own, often without near-constant monitoring, but always within proximity of recovery resources as needed. This can build the much-needed self-confidence it takes to live in recovery in the long term.
Sober living can be an essential part of the recovery process for many individuals, as it provides a supportive and accountable environment that helps prevent relapse. It bridges the gap between the highly structured environment of a rehabilitation facility and the demands of daily life, giving individuals the opportunity to practice the coping skills and strategies they have learned in treatment while gradually reintegrating into society.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with substance use or mental health disorders, Harmony Health Group is here to help. Take the first step to healing and recovery by contacting us at (828) 347-9322.