Detox and rehab are crucial to recovery but they’re not usually enough to ensure long-term sobriety. People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol usually need additional support and care to help them maintain their sobriety. These are among the core benefits of a sober living home, but we will review them all over this helpful resource guide.
Some people return to their homes after receiving inpatient treatment, participate in outpatient treatment or counseling, and are successful in staying away from addictive substances. This is often the case for individuals who have safe, supportive home environments. However, some people would be at increased risk of relapse if they returned to the community immediately. In these situations, sober living may be the appropriate option.
Sober Living and the Continuum of Care
Table of Contents
- Sober Living and the Continuum of Care
- Types of Sober Facilities
- Is a Sober Living Home the Same Thing As a Halfway House?
- What to Expect in Sober Living
- Typical Rules of Sober Housing
- Benefits of Sober Living
- The Troubles With Sober Living
- When to Consider Sober Housing
- Choosing Sober Living for Sobriety
- Find the Right Sober Living Facility for Your Needs
What is a sober living facility? A sober living home acts as a bridge between a residential treatment facility and independent living. Many people struggle to adjust to daily life when they leave rehab.
Sober living facilities reinforce the lessons individuals learned in rehab and help to prevent them from returning to their old habits. If you’re concerned that you would have too much freedom when you return to your home or community, living in a transitional facility may be best.
Sober living homes vary considerably but typically, they don’t offer the same level of structure as inpatient facilities. Residents of sober living homes usually have more independence since they aren’t totally immersed in rehabilitation programs.
Instead, they can gradually ease back into assuming responsibility for their lives and performing their usual daily tasks. At the same time, they have to follow the home’s rules and stay away from drugs and alcohol. Sober living homes help residents to develop healthy habits and coping mechanisms that they can use when they eventually return home.
Types of Sober Facilities
Sober facilities can take several forms. Some people simply differentiate between traditional sober living and high-accountability sober living. In a traditional sober living home, residents have a structured environment and they receive various support services to assist them in their recovery.
They are expected to go to school or work and participate in meetings and group discussions. They must also undergo regular drug and alcohol testing to ensure they are committed to their sobriety.
High-accountability sober living is much more restrictive. Residents have to stick to a daily schedule and participate in activities facilitated by staff. This type of environment is best for individuals who have relapsed after being treated for a substance use disorder multiple times.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Recovery Residences places sober living homes into four categories based on the levels of support they offer. They identify:
- Level 1 homes that are peer-operated. There are minimal rules for individuals living in these facilities.
- Level 2 homes that are monitored by paid staff. Residents need to participate in therapy or support groups.
- Level 3 homes that are supervised by certified individuals. Residents are also required to participate in therapy or support groups.
- Level 4 homes that offer the highest levels of support. Staff members are credentialed and residents benefit from in-house services and possibly integration with clinical facilities. Residents must participate in support group meetings or therapy.
Some sober living facilities may also specialize in certain areas. For example, some are single-sex while others are co-ed. Others, known as sober colleges, cater specifically to young adults.
Meanwhile, integrated intensive outpatient centers offer medical care onsite and as well addiction treatment. When individuals find the right setting for their needs, they’ll be more likely to beat their substance addiction and live a healthier life.
Is a Sober Living Home the Same Thing As a Halfway House?
Some people use the terms “halfway house” and “sober living home” interchangeably. Others view halfway houses as a type of sober living facility. However, the two can also be viewed as similar but different concepts.
Typically, halfway houses are government-funded. The cost to residents may be minimal but the facility may be crowded with dorm-like accommodation and there may be fewer amenities. Also, residents may only be able to stay for a maximum of 12 months.
In contrast, sober living homes offer more private accommodation and greater structure. They may be attached to a rehab facility or they can offer standalone programs. Residents are usually allowed to stay for as long as they pay rent and follow the rules of the home. That being said, the specific arrangements vary from one facility to another.
What to Expect in Sober Living
The types of services offered at sober homes vary considerably. So does the level of restriction. A lot depends on how structured the program is. In a highly structured home, residents are gradually allowed increased freedom and independence. They may progress through restrictive, reintroduction, and self-sufficiency phases as they prepare for re-entry into the “real world”.
The restrictive phase may last for about a month and the focus is on keeping residents isolated from triggers. Therefore, they may be barred from using phones or computers for the first week. They may also be advised to take some time off work and school.
During this time, residents may attend therapy sessions, go to medical appointments, and participate in peer support groups. They may also perform household duties and engage in healthy activities such as exercise. In the restrictive stage, residents may only be able to use transportation provided by the facility.
In the reintroduction phase, individuals start to take on more personal responsibility. Once they handle this well, they’re extended additional privileges.
Therefore, residents in this phase can begin going to school or work while they continue undergoing therapy and participating in support groups. They may be allowed to use personal means of transport but only for traveling to and from essential activities. Their location may be monitored when they’re off-site.
In this phase, residents make more decisions independently before they transition to living on their own. They can move around independently and prepare to move into their own home or apartment.
However, they must still follow the rules and communicate with staff about what they’re doing. If a person in the self-sufficiency phase relapses, they may face additional restrictions.
The Importance of Peer Support
People who live in sober homes usually have to participate in a peer support group. This helps them to build positive connections with sober individuals as they prepare to rejoin the community.
Many people join 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Not only do individuals benefit from interacting with sober peers but they get support from a sponsor who can hold them accountable and support them during challenging times.
Typical Rules of Sober Housing
Each home has somewhat different rules. Therefore, when you’re assessing the various facilities, you should inquire about what the rules are. Generally, sober living facilities will require residents to:
- Not bring alcohol or drugs onto the premises
- Participate in household activities such as performing chores and attending weekly meetings
- Pay their expenses as required
- Have a plan to go therapy or attend 12-step meetings at least weekly
- Agree to undergo randomized drug and alcohol tests
- Be accountable for their whereabouts when they are off-site
- Refrain from having overnight guests
- Adhere to the curfew
- Respect housemates and staff members
Benefits of Sober Living
There are several benefits to residing in a sober living facility.
A Reduced Risk of Relapse
Addiction changes the brain. Even after individuals undergo detox and rehab, they may find it hard to make rational decisions or exercise self-control. Therefore, in the early stages of recovery, it can be very hard for people to resist the temptation to drink or use drugs if they return to their former environment.
Since sober-liver facilities are drug-free environments and residents may be tested frequently, the risk of relapse is lower.
Ongoing Support from Professionals and Peers
While sober living homes facilitate more independent living, they also ensure that individuals don’t have to navigate recovery alone. You’ll be living with people who, like you, are also seeking to maintain their sobriety and you’ll lend each other support while holding each other accountable.
At the same time, you may have access to professionals who can offer specialized care or connect you with helpful resources. Depending on the facility, these professionals may be based on site. In addition to helping you with relapse prevention or the development of life skills, they may also be able to help you with things such as finding a job.
An Opportunity to Build Healthy, Sober Relationships
When you made the decision to stop drinking or using drugs, you likely lost the. People who are addicted to substances often isolate people who aren’t living the same lifestyle. As a result, they lose many of the healthy relationships they once had. Entering rehab can also make it difficult to stay in contact with loved ones.
In order to maintain their sobriety, individuals in recovery usually need to make new friends. Returning to their old peer group increases the risk of relapse and even spending time with relatives can be triggering. Staying in a sober living home makes it easier to form new friendship groups.
You’ll be living with individuals who share similar struggles and have similar goals. They’ll know all the challenges that addiction can cause and like you, they’ll be learning how to live a healthy drug-free life. Some of the relationships you form in sober living will continue long after you resume living independently. These friendships can be invaluable as you seek to engage in enjoyable sober activities.
The Chance to Develop or Regain Life Skills
People who are in the grips of addiction tend to neglect everything but obtaining and using drugs or alcohol. They don’t have much interest in maintaining personal hygiene, cleaning their homes, or eating nutritious foods.
When they get sober, they need to learn or re-learn how to do these things and do them consistently. Sober living facilities can be the perfect setting for learning how to do laundry, make a bed, or manage finances. Residents can also learn how to build strong interpersonal relationships in preparation for a return to society.
Some of the skills that sober living may teach include:
- Effective communication
- Conflict resolution
- Time management
- Behavioral control
- Finding purpose
An Opportunity to Take Charge of Your Life Again
Everyone has goals and things they want to do with their life. However, substance abuse and addiction tend to derail plans as drugs or alcohol take over. When you’re in rehab, the focus is largely on getting to the bottom of your addiction and learning how to stay sober.
However, you also need to work on furthering your education, developing new hobbies, and finding gainful employment. Sober living helps you to regain your independence, find meaning in your life, and contribute to society in some way.
The Troubles With Sober Living
As with any other type of program or intervention, sober living homes aren’t perfect. Moving into a sober residence may reduce your risk of relapse but it doesn’t completely rule it out. Another consideration is cost.
Staying in a sober living home can be more expensive than living on your own since you must pay for rent, drug testing, and costs associated with running a sober living home.
Despite the benefits, it’s not always realistic for individuals to pay rent right after leaving rehab. Also, sober living houses aren’t typically covered by insurance so people may have to take out loans or use their credit cards to pay. Even this can be difficult since people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol often experience financial difficulties.
When to Consider Sober Housing
Some people are ready to return directly to their homes after completing inpatient treatment. However, if you’ve completed rehab but you have concerns about maintaining your sobriety while living in your own space, transitional housing may be right for you. In contrast, if you’re still drinking or using drugs or you’ve yet to benefit from therapy, you likely need more intensive care before you can move into a sober living home.
You may need residential treatment, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment before you gradually step down. Talking to an addiction treatment professional will help you to identify the types of services you need to improve your chances of long-term sobriety.
Choosing Sober Living for Sobriety
If you think you’d benefit from a sober living program, you need to find one that’s appropriate for your unique needs. As you may be able to tell by now, not all homes are created equal. There are a number of things you should look for when evaluating facilities. These include:
- Certification by sober living networks or other credible agencies
- The level of support offered by staff
- The services offered such as medical care and complementary therapies
- The availability of specialized services if you’re a member of a specific or vulnerable group
- The ratio of staff to residents
- Whether the facility offers various phases of restriction
- Whether participation in support groups is mandatory
- How many people live in each home
Find the Right Sober Living Facility for Your Needs
Many experts see a connection between long-term recovery and sober living. Some substance abuse treatment programs offer a full continuum of care that includes placement in a sober living home for those individuals who need it. However, aftercare program features vary and not all sober facilities are connected to a treatment center.
Given all that we’ve discussed for the differences among sober homes, you may be unsure about which one you should enroll in. If you need help in choosing a facility, reach out to the experts at Find Addiction Rehabs.
We’re available 24 hours per day, seven days per week so can call our hotline at 877-537-1481 or fill out the contact form on our website. We’ll connect you with the facilities that can meet your needs. Contact us today to get the help you need to maintain your sobriety.
Brandon is a highly skilled content writer and behavioral health marketer with over a decade of experience. In his own words: in my work with Find Addiction Rehabs, I have dedicated my expertise to a cause close to my heart – substance abuse recovery. Through my passion for the field, I’ve successfully compiled a track record of crafting compelling content that educates, inspires, and supports those on their recovery journeys.