Transitioning to Sobriety: Sober Living Homes

The road to recovery after addiction is often a difficult one. Maintaining the willpower to remain sober is a challenge, especially after many months or years of addictive behavior. Apart from the introspective psychological challenge of abstaining from drug use, the user must usually cut ties with people that still use. Severing these links to old friends, people about whom the user still cares, can be stressful enough to cause a relapse, as the addict may be left with few trustworthy people remaining in his or her life, or none at all. It is crucial to find a social support system without enabling further drug use, and sober living homes, also known as halfway houses, can provide this.

Providing the basics

Sober living homes are often situated in quiet areas, far from night life, liquor stores, and other potential sources of temptation. Here, those that have recently begun the path to recovery can find an environment with some basic rules, but not the rigorous schedules and other restrictions that are the hallmarks of rehab facilities and other, more specialized (and more expensive) recovery centers. These homes are pathways to reintegration with society. The atmosphere is relaxed but requires residents to assume the usual responsibilities of a productive person. Typically, a home will ask residents to pay while they live there, for rent, food, and other normal costs of living. The rent tends to be fair and reflects an understanding of the situation in which most recovering addicts find themselves. There is often a reasonable curfew, and residents are asked to contribute to the household in other ways, such as doing chores. Rules will vary by home, but they are always reasonable and in line with their mission.

Great expectations

Those that manage sober living homes expect that all residents are there to solidify their recovery. However, they are interested in helping addicts, not a single addict in particular. The rules and restrictions they put in place are designed to be impartial, so as to help those that are ready to be helped and avoid the burden of those that would take advantage of their charity. They know that one bad apple can spoil the bunch in such a tenuous situation. All who apply must prove their sobriety, though many homes do not require any past rehabilitation or detoxification program. All they ask for is a commitment to sobriety and to personal responsibility. Homes require that the residents attend school, be employed, or find employment, both to pay for their place there and to ensure a responsible, structured lifestyle. Some will go as far as assisting residents in finding jobs, though this is not always the case. And, because abstinence is the supreme communal goal, homes administer random drug tests and require residents to attend support groups, such as twelve-step meetings or group therapy sessions.

Safety in numbers

What sober living homes offer is the support of a community of people, all of whom are going through a very similar and difficult experience. Within the safety of the space they offer, addicts can share themselves and feel free to be vulnerable. As each resident is ideally striving toward the same purpose, residents can help each other, reinforcing good decisions and talking through bad decisions. Overall, studies indicate that addicts that pass through sober living homes are far more likely to continue their sobriety and improve their lives and far less likely to relapse or end up homeless or imprisoned.