Addiction recovery involves making decisions for and about yourself that will benefit your long-term goals of staying sober. Some decisions are not easy to make, like admitting you have a substance use problem and need help or checking into an addiction treatment center. In the end, though, those tough decisions might lead to a better, healthier, happier life.
One of the essential steps in recovery from addiction is maintaining long-term sobriety once addiction treatment ends. Sober living is also a vital step in the continuum of care. Sober living can be very challenging if your current living situation is not conducive to maintaining sobriety.
Sober living homes can be a panacea, as you work hard in staying sober and learning how to manage triggers and prevent relapse. Sober living provides many benefits for people in recovery who are truly committed to sobriety.
This type of home environment is meant to work as a buffer or safety net for you. It can be very challenging to make the transition from inpatient treatment to going home. Some might even find this change shockingly difficult to endure. It is not easy to go from 30 or more days of restrictive living to living completely free of any restrictions or rules. It can be equally hard to go back to everyday life without regular support from therapists and group therapy sessions.
A sober living home could be the best place to be right now.
What is a Sober Living Home?
If there is one aspect of recovery that can set you up for relapse, it is living in an unstable environment where drugs and alcohol are used freely. Sustained abstinence from substances is already very difficult, but when you live in a home where people are imbibing, relapse is a real possibility. Addiction has a relapse rate from 40 to 60 percent, as noted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Sober living homes provide drug and alcohol-free environments for others in your situation. They are not funded by state or local governments and usually are not licensed. Residents in the home pay rent and their share of utilities, just as they would if sharing an apartment with someone. Sober living homes also have rules that everyone must follow.
Sober Living Home Rules and Guidelines
As expected, sober living homes have rules and guidelines that their residents are expected to follow. When you first arrive, you will be greeted by the person who operates or manages the home. They will review the different sets of rules, which are enforced by the home’s manager or senior resident at the time. These people are the liaison between all of the residents in the home and the staff. The rules put in place encourage a positive, recovery-minded living environment.
Some of the rules might include:
- House curfew
- A strict zero-tolerance policy with drugs and alcohol
- Staying active in your recovery by going to 12-step meetings, talking with sponsors, etc.
- Find, obtain, and maintain employment
- Helping to keep the home clean and neat
- Shopping and cooking for yourself
- Respecting your roommate and others in the home
Some sober living homes are gender-specific, while others are co-ed. Whichever type of home it is, it is essential to learn life skills so that when you leave, you are a responsible, sober person others can learn to trust. Often, people in recovery are told not to get involved in a relationship for the 12 months following addiction treatment graduation. This is to allow you the time to learn and grow as an individual, free from what other people think or expect of you.
You may be living in a larger home with more residents and will learn how to get along with people of different backgrounds, likes, and dislikes. If you can learn how to peacefully live with others, you are a step ahead in your personal growth.
The Benefits of Sober Living Homes
Sober living is very helpful and beneficial for a person new in drug or alcohol recovery, and there are definite benefits to this kind of living environment.
A Solid Recovery Foundation
Many sober living homes require residents to attend regular 12-step meetings and to find a focus in their life. Group gatherings in the home may inspire some recovering residents to open up, join activities, and feel less isolated and alone. Meetings and gatherings also build on the recovery foundation that began in addiction treatment. In time, that foundation can become solid.
A sober living home gives you more time to spend sober, which also helps to solidify your recovery. Some people spend a year in the home, following its rules and learning how to live in a society where temptation and triggers are right around the corner and how to avoid them.
Another benefit is that it can be easier to practice all of the new skills you’ve learned in a sober environment, as mentioned in an article by Verywell Mind.
Learn How to Be a Responsible Person
While living in the home, you are given specific chores to do and have set dates for paying the rent and utilities. If you have a job, you are accountable for getting to work on time and being a responsible employee and person.
It is an essential life lesson to know that you have to get dressed and be at your job on time in order to earn a paycheck that will cover your monthly expenses, no matter how you feel psychologically. If you do not have a job, a staff member in the house can help you find one. These lessons learned in the home are ones that you can carry later when you leave and live on your own.
How Much Does it Cost to Live in a Sober Home?
Each sober living residence will have its own price for rent depending on where the home is located, the size of the home, and the people living in it. Most of the time, the cost of rent is similar to what the rent would be for a shared apartment. Your share of the utilities will be factored into your total monthly cost, not including food, toiletries, and miscellaneous items you want or need.
How To Pay For a Sober Living Home
How can you pay for a stint at a sober living home? Your health insurance plan may have some provisions in it for sober living. In some cases, your doctor will need to indicate that residing in the home is a “medical emergency.” It is best to thoroughly read your insurance plan documents to see what is covered. It is also a good idea to see if the plan has any add-on policies that cover extended care for substance use disorders.
Payment plans with the home are an option if they are offered. If you need to be on a sliding scale financing plan, ask the person coordinating your stay at the home if that is possible.
Other suggestions to pay to a sober living home include:
- Research medical or hardship loans online
- Use funds from savings accounts, retirement accounts
- Ask family or friends for a loan
- Sell any personal property of value
How Long Can One Stay in a Sober Living Home?
The length of stay in a sober living home depends on your circumstances. If you and your therapist feel you need to stay in the home for six months, then it is best to stay there. If you need a longer stay, then it is best to remain in the home. Research by the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs found a few different types of sober living homes. The average stay was found to be between 166 and 254 days. A sober living home is usually the last transition before going back home. The longer you stay in the home, the more solid your foundation will be for long-term recovery.
Who Benefits From a Sober Living Home?
Those who will benefit most from staying in a sober living home tend to be:
- Individuals with co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis
- Individuals who have been through rehab several times and still relapse
- Individuals who do not have a strong support system at home or who will be returning to a home where substance use is common
- Individuals who resist treatment
- Individuals who feel that living in a sober home will bolster their recovery and help them abstain from substance use
- Women or men who prefer gender-specific sober living environments
As quoted in an article from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, sober living homes “empower people by providing support as they transition towards living independent and productive lives in their respective communities.”