Completing a drug rehab program is a monumental step in the addiction recovery process, but re-entering society after treatment can be daunting and overwhelming for many people.
Returning to the environment where a person regularly drank alcohol or abused drugs in the past may introduce triggers, making it difficult to remain abstinent from drugs and alcohol.
Sober living homes work to combat this by giving people in recovery a safe, supportive environment with accountability checks and other aftercare resources for maintaining long-term sobriety.
What Is Sober Living?
Sober living, which is also sometimes called recovery housing or transitional housing, often serves as a step between remaining in inpatient addiction care and returning home.
People staying in inpatient treatment centers often fear returning home and facing the circumstances that once led them to abuse drugs, and sober living can help alleviate those fears.
Sober living homes are not licensed or accredited rehab centers. They are usually privately owned or nonprofit organizations, and some are owned and operated by the people in attendance.
Recovery Housing Vs. Halfway Housing
Although people often believe sober living and halfway housing are the same thing, the two serve different functions.
Anybody in recovery can live in a transitional housing facility, whereas halfway houses are designed for people who have recently been incarcerated and are re-entering society.
The entry requirements for sober living homes vary, while halfway houses typically mandate that participants complete some form of drug rehabilitation before or during their stay.
Daily Life In A Transitional Housing Facility
Recovery housing facilities give participants much more freedom than a traditional residential treatment program.
People can attend school or work, engage in hobbies, exercise, do their own grocery shopping and cooking, and participate in other day-to-day activities.
Some sober living facilities even allow children up to a certain age to accompany their parent. This often makes them great resources for pregnant mothers in recovery.
It’s not uncommon for transitional housing to require residents to attend 12-step meetings or abide by curfews, drug testing, and other house rules, which help ensure the facility remains a sober environment.
Is Sober-Living Housing Right For Me?
Sober living homes can be a next step for people who have recently completed a program at an inpatient or residential addiction treatment center, but this is not a requirement.
People with unstable or harmful living situations often thrive in drug-free living environments, where they can be away from the stressors and triggers that led to their substance abuse.
Some transitional housing programs provide payment assistance or are very low-cost, which makes them a great resource for people with fewer financial resources who are trying to get back on their feet.
Many of these facilities have no limit on how long clients can stay, with people living in these facilities for anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of years.
The Benefits Of Staying In Transitional Housing
Sober living homes provide an environment free of substances and many of the temptations to use them, which have numerous benefits for people in recovery.
Studies have shown that these environments directly lower substance abuse and incarceration rates for several reasons.
Guidance, Support, And Healthy Relationships
Residents of transitional housing programs may be required or encouraged to participate in 12-step meetings, support group therapy, or peer support.
Building a support network is often essential to maintaining long-term sobriety, and it’s important for people to have others nearby who can coach them through challenges.
People who have been in the house longer can offer coaching, advice, and encouragement to those who are newer to recovery. There is also a house manager who helps ensure everyone’s comfort.
Being able to bond with others who have had similar life experiences is an invaluable resource, and many of the friendships formed during recovery last long after the initial treatment period.
Improved Physical And Mental Health
There are numerous documented mental health benefits to living in communal spaces. It can reduce loneliness, promote networking and sharing, and help people feel safer.
If someone living in the house is facing difficulties, other residents can band together to provide them with the necessary resources and support systems.
While the living and cooking situations in sober living houses can vary widely, some facilities have residents cook communal meals or assist participants with nutritional counseling.
It is no secret that addiction is expensive. Funding drug and alcohol abuse often puts people in precarious financial situations, and many end up in debt or committing crimes to pay for drugs.
Sober living helps combat this by providing people with a stable, structured living environment. Although residents pay housing costs, shared costs are often lower than the cost of living alone.
Additionally, many sober living homes are run by nonprofit organizations that provide sliding fee scales or other forms of payment assistance.
Having or obtaining employment during your stay at a sober living house is a common requirement, and this sets residents up for financial stability after leaving the program.
Restored Life Skills And Independent Living
Severe addiction can strip people of their identities or ability to take care of themselves, especially if drug use began at a young age.
Maintaining household chores or healthy diets, hygiene, and exercise routines may fall by the wayside, and it can be challenging to begin handling those tasks again without guidance.
Sober living helps residents rebuild the ability to handle daily life tasks without feeling overwhelmed.
Life skills education may include:
- learning how to cook healthy meals
- gaining an understanding of budgeting and paying bills or taxes
- building a routine for household chores like laundry or vacuuming
- learning how to find and maintain employment
- learning about hygiene and basic fitness
- for parents, receiving education on childcare
A person who knows how to take care of themselves through any situation will feel more confident and capable when transitioning out of addiction treatment.
Less Risk Of Relapse
One of the greatest benefits of sober living homes is the lowered risks of relapsing or experiencing triggers to drink and use drugs.
Although each person is ultimately responsible for themselves, the guidelines and rules in place in these homes encourage staying committed to sobriety.
Sober living eliminates many of the temptations that a person may face in daily life when they are still vulnerable following treatment.
Easier Transition From Treatment
It can be a shock to go from an inpatient rehab program to a more “normal” lifestyle at home, but sober living provides a helpful stepping stone between these points.
Transitional housing is a safe way for people to begin testing their coping skills without losing all of the support and guidance that they received during residential treatment.
Once someone is fully comfortable in sober living and no longer feels tempted by cravings, they can explore finding their own living situation with continued care from an outpatient program.
How To Pay For A Sober-Living Stay
Sober living programs are not designated healthcare facilities, so health insurance typically does not pay for these services.
The costs of these programs can also range significantly based on factors such as the city it’s located in, the number of people in the facility, and who owns and operates the housing.
People with specialized needs, such as pregnant women or people who have been houseless, may qualify for free and low-cost sober living through nonprofit, scholarship, or grant funding.
Others may have to pay a fee each month that covers rent and utilities, although in many cases this is cheaper than paying to live on your own.
If you aren’t able to cover the initial costs of sober living, you can explore personal loans, government assistance options, or programs with sliding fee scales.
Get Help For A Substance Use Disorder Today
If you or a loved one is facing drug or alcohol addiction, don’t wait to seek treatment. Contact us today to learn more about starting the recovery journey.Article Sources
- National Library of Medicine
- National Library of Medicine
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)