When you quit drinking or using drugs, everything is supposed to get better, right? While getting clean can be freeing it can also be jarring and frightening which can send some right back to addiction. If you’ve been using drugs or drinking heavily for years, learning how to live your life sober is a surprisingly difficult transition. That’s why sober living was created.
What is Sober Living?
Sober living, also known as a sober home or sober housing, is a temporary living arrangement to help addicts and alcoholics transition from inpatient treatment back into everyday society. Sober homes are like a prison system’s halfway home except voluntary and with much more freedom. Just like prisoners need a transition between lockup and everyday life, many addicts need a stairstep between newfound sobriety and daily life among the ‘normies’. Sober living can be coed but most sober homes are gender-specific to decrease distractions during early recover. Most residents stay in their sober living home for 6 months to a year before transitioning to the real world.
Benefits of Sober Living
Alcohol and Drug-Free Environment
It’s not difficult to stay sober in a treatment facility – you’re in a closed space far from any illicit substance. Once you leave treatment, you’re thrust back into a world where there could be alcohol in your home or drugs at a nearby street corner. While you’ll always have to deal with temptation it can be most difficult during early recovery, but you can avoid that early temptation with sober living. Sober living facilities are 100% drug and alcohol-free, so you’ll never be directly tempted. The lessons and sobriety time you earn in your sober living facility will have you ready for real-world temptation once you leave.
You Have to Put in the Effort
Sober homes wouldn’t be very effective if everyone was laying around the house all day. Sober homes are much more than alcohol and drug-free homes – they’re learning tools and building blocks. Sober homes require you to be out of the house during daylight hours, attend a certain number of recovery meetings per week, help the local recovery community, and talk with a recovery sponsor.
Every requirement is designed to keep you busy and to better increase your chances at long-term recovery once you leave. You can get kicked out of your sober home even if you’re not using drugs or alcohol if you’re not following all requirements.
Get Life Back on Track
Were you unemployed during your active addiction? Was your house constantly a mess? Sober living focuses on your addiction recovery but it’s also a transition for basic living habits. It’s a shame to admit it but many addicts let everyday living habits fall by the wayside. They don’t clean their homes, they don’t brush their teeth, they don’t look for work. Sober living arrangements require residents to work, attend school, or attend an alcohol treatment program, perform tasks or chores to keep the house in good condition, keep their rooms neat, and keep their personal hygiene in check.
Friendship and Fellowship
Early recovery is a lonely time. You can be surrounded by friends and family but unless they’re in recovery too they can’t 100% be there for you. Your sober living roommates can be. Instead of sitting in your room staring at the ceiling you can play some video games with your roommate or attend a recovery meeting. When you live in a sober home, you’re surrounded by others who are in recovery and understand the issues and problems that come with getting clean. If you can’t sleep because you’re having obsessions or just need someone to talk, someone’s just a room over. At a sober home you substitute friendship and fellowship for isolation and loneliness.
Who is Sober Living Good For?
Chronic Relapse Problems
Sober living is beneficial to those with chronic relapse problems. There are many people who feel great during primary treatment but are quickly overwhelmed by the problems and stumbling blocks found in everyday life. These addicts alleviate stress by drifting back towards their old habits and before long they’re using again. A few months of sober living helps gives you more sobriety under your belt, more lessons, and more ways to deal with triggers and impulses. A few months of preparing for the real world greatly increases the chances of sobriety sticking.
Long History of Abuse
The longer the history of abuse the scarier transitioning into sobriety can be. It’s recommended that addicts or alcoholics with a long history of abuse enroll in a residential treatment program followed by a combination of outpatient treatment and sober living for the least disruptive recovery process.
Distractions at Home
Does your spouse drink? Does your elderly aunt have opioids in the house? It doesn’t make sense to leave a safe and comfortable treatment center to go to a house that will push you to throw it all away. Those distractions will be fine after a few months of sobriety but if there’s something tempting or unpleasant you’re worried about after leaving treatment you need a sober home to get started.
How Do You Find Sober Living?
Sober living is offered by both certified treatment centers and other private companies. Call a local treatment center, detox facility, of your local AA chapter to get more information on sober living close to you.
Coming back from addiction is like coming back from a personal prison. If you need help between primary treatment and a full return to everyday society looks to sober living for help. Sober living gives you the fellowship, time, and requirements to get back on your feet and growing.