Sober living is often recommended for recovering addicts and alcoholics following detox or a residential treatment program. Why is this? Why is it not recommended for people, who have already put their life on hold, to go straight home?
Two words: Relapse Prevention. When an individual leaves treatment and returns to their home; they are returning to the same environment, habits and daily interactions that supported and even encouraged their active addiction. Because of that risk, transitioning into a sober living facility can make the difference between an individual staying clean or relapsing.
Sober Living facilities are designed to provide a safe, structured environment that supports people in recovery as they reintegrate into society by providing:
1. Ongoing Support for Recovery
When an individual enters sober living, they instantly become surrounded by Recovery. The house rules mandate that everyone living there is active in recovery, attending meetings and even undergoing drug tests. Staff is in place to ensure everyone in the house has the support they need to get back on their feet and maintain the momentum that was created in treatment. The support of other clients and staff who are committed to changing their life through recovery is invaluable early in the recovery process.
2. An Alternative to Isolation and Boredom
Detox and Residential Treatment Programs create an environment where the addict or alcoholic is constantly surrounded by other people; both staff and other clients. Many individuals find themselves in uncomfortable lonely surroundings once they have been discharged from treatment. This is especially true if they are trying to avoid hanging out with people from their past who are still in active addiction. Sober Living provides an alternative to the isolation and boredom (without the risk of them going back to relationships and situations that threaten their recovery) by surrounding them with other residents who are working on their recovery; creating a sense of connection and comradely.
3. Discipline, Structure and Accountability
No Sober Living House would be complete without House Rules. House Rules vary but most include curfews, chores, consent to drug tests, attending meetings, etc. Each resident is accountable for following the rules. The rules provide structure and following the rules builds discipline. Many addicts and alcoholics become dependent on others during their active addiction and feel a sense of chaos when they no longer have the drug, the bottle or another person to count on. Not knowing how to handle life as it comes can lead to relapse. Practicing structure and discipline allows the individual to take pride in their physical space and to experience order in their life building their self-esteem as well as their independence.
4. Time for Personal Transformation
Recovery requires a complete life transformation. It is unrealistic to expect that transformation to be complete as soon as a residential treatment program is over. Moving into a Sober Living facility support an individuals continued transformation by keeping him or her connected to the fellowship and also engaged in a community that supports ongoing growth.
5. Transition Back into the World
Sober Living can be invaluable for helping the addict or alcoholic to transition back into the world. Sober living provides the individual with a stable environment from which live life on life’s terms. Learning how to re-engage with society, in a structured living environment, helps to prevent individuals from relapsing into their old habits.
Living in a sober environment provides the individual the structure from which to find and keep a job, to begin to save money, develop healthy relationships and even slowly plan for the future. Sober living gives the recovering addict or alcoholic an environmental foundation from which to put his or her life back together and in a healthier manner. Because of the value listed above we recommend sober living to most of our outpatient clients and have built relationships with respected sober living facilities that we trust. As with all things in life, some places are better than others. Always do your research!