After detox and addiction treatment, the recovery process is just beginning. Making the transition out of treatment is an important step and one that can potentially put your sobriety at risk. Sober living houses can be an excellent way to take on more responsibility without giving up too much stability. But what is a sober living house and how do you make a successful transition from treatment?
What Is a Sober Living House?
Sober living houses (SLHs) are specifically for people who are transitioning out of a treatment program. They are drug and alcohol-free living environments designed to increase independence and responsibility while maintaining structure for former addicts. Sober living houses typically don’t offer any formal treatment services, but they do encourage members to join support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) that facilitate continued recovery.
Besides barring drugs and alcohol from the premises and monitoring residents with drug tests, sober living houses provide a structured environment. Residents are expected to maintain chores and pay rent. There may be resources to help residents without jobs to find employment.
Rent usually scales with your ability to pay. If you enter an SLH with no job, your rent will be lower than when you find work. However, you must be actively seeking employment. As long as residents live by the rules, you are typically allowed to stay indefinitely.
Many people use the terms sober living house and halfway house interchangeably, but, while they have similar structures, there are some major differences. Halfway houses are typically temporary living environments for ex-convicts, including violent criminals or sexual offenders.
Studies Support Sober Living
Your living place can make or break your sobriety in the months following addiction treatment. A destructive home life can cause a relapse, even in people who are intensely motivated to remain sober. According to a National Institute of Health report, social and environmental factors have a significant impact on recovery and involvement in a sober living house proved to facilitate improvements in several areas including sobriety and psychology.
Another study pointed out that sober living houses help the recovery process because they encourage involvement in 12-step programs and help residents develop social support systems with other people who are committed to sobriety.
How to Prepare for a Sober Living House
Of course, despite the evidence that sober living houses are a great help to those transitioning out of treatment, it’s no guarantee that you won’t have stressful experiences that draw you toward relapse. There are a few things you should do to prepare for a sober living house that will help make the most of your time there.
Pick the Right House
Like treatment centers, not all sober living houses are created equal. Some have poor track records in general, and some may not be suitable for you personally. Get as much information about any house you are interested in as possible. Look at pictures, ask about the rules, and find out about its success rates.
Prestige is also a good indicator of a solid SLH. Does the house have all the proper licensing or recommendations by national organizations? Or is it relatively unknown and difficult to investigate?
If you decide to transition to a house that turns out to be a nightmare, it may do more harm than good. Make sure you know where you are going before you get there.
Realize Recovery Isn’t Over
Once your treatment program is completed, it may be easy to fall into the mindset that recovery is over, even if you would never say it. You may think you have a handle on cravings and triggers and the added independence of a sober living house will give you the opportunity to put yourself into potentially damaging situations. The farther you can stay away from unnecessary triggers, the better.
You’ve probably heard it a hundred times by now that recovery is a lifelong process. Still, it’s important to hear. Don’t buy into the idea that you don’t need to learn anything more about dealing with addiction. Join aftercare programs or 12-step groups so you can continue to grow in your recovery.
Embrace Structure and Stability
It’s never easy to live under someone else’s rules. After spending time in recovery, especially if you were in a residential program, you may be looking forward to your space and freedom. However, the rules of a sober living house are designed to help you succeed in recovery. Learning to master sober living within the boundaries of the rules can help you set your own boundaries when you live independently in the future.
Do You Still Need Help?
Maybe the prospect of everything that comes with substance abuse addiction is terrifying. That’s perfectly normal. If you are feeling stuck though, call Pathway to Hope at 844-311-5781 to speak to one of our addiction specialists that can help put you on the right track to recovery.