Sober Living Houses: What are They and How Can They Help in Recovery?
Sober living houses (SLHs) are living environments for people in recovery that are drug and alcohol free. They provide stability and support during the early period of recovery. Many who are new to recovery need different layers of help after completing treatment. Some people need structure and accountability as they transition back into everyday life. Others need an actual place to stay as they rebuild their careers and reconnect with their families. Sober homes can either be associated with a treatment center or independent organizations. They can be a great source of social support and are positively correlated with sustained sobriety as they reduce exposure to triggers that can result in relapse.
What is it Like to Live in Sober Living?
Living environment plays an important part in one’s social circle. In sober homes, people are removed from unhealthy living arrangements that encourage substance abuse and placed in supportive environments conducive to abstinence and recovery. Some programs have halfway houses that permit one to live after incarceration, during outpatient treatment and once residential treatment is completed. Many studies support the finding that halfway houses help treatment outcomes. Sober living houses are all different but share some common, core features, including:
Common characteristics of a sober living house include:
- Formal treatment is not mandatory, but inclusion in self-help groups is strongly encouraged and may be required (such as a 12-step program)
- An environment free from drugs and alcohol for people in recovery
- Compliance with house rules, including attending meetings, paying affordable rent and completion of chores
- Residents may live in sober housing if they abide by the house rules
- Sober living houses may be run by a manager or by residents in positions of leadership
Although often used interchangeably in conversation, halfway houses are different than sober homes. Key differences usually include cost, compliance requirements and the length of time residents can stay. Each halfway house and sober living home has its own rules governing conduct and compliance.
How Sober Houses Help in Recovery
Sober housing helps recovery in many ways. It provides structure and accountability while also providing a sense of community and logistical support that people need in the early stages of recovery and beyond. There is clear evidence that these benefits translate to everyday and long-term success.
According to one study, abstinence rates increased from 11 percent at baseline to 68 percent at six and 12 months following residence in a sober living home. After 18 months, 46 percent remained in recovery – still far higher than baseline. Another sober living setting in the same study increased abstinence rates from 20 percent at baseline to 40 percent at six months, 45 percent at 12 months and 42% at 18 months.
Relapse is common among people with substance use disorders. Peer-run, recovery-oriented living environments allow people the chance to be surrounded by others in recovery with whom they have shared goals. In sober residences, you don’t need to conceal their addiction or mental health and physical needs because living with others in recovery permits transparency and authenticity. Issues including low income and poor health can cause loneliness and lead people to experience social withdrawal, leading to substance use disorder and crime.
People with limited financial means who are experiencing symptoms of drug abuse can benefit from having a healthy social support system, making them great candidates for affordable sober living housing. Additionally, sober living housing is safe, stable and allows for space to repair familial and other relationships.
Sober Living at Recovery Unplugged
The decisions we make are influenced by the people, places and things with which we surround ourselves. People in recovery must often remove themselves from factors that will put them at risk for relapse. This can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression and isolation. Sober living fills this need for emotional support in a healthy, safe, and compassionate setting where one can live a happy and productive life and be accountable for their behavior – without being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Recovery Unplugged offers sober living resources as part of our partial-hospitalization (PHP) and outpatient programs at our Austin, TX, Fort Lauderdale and Lake Worth, FL and Nashville, TN locations. We look forward to helping you or your loved one start the process of recovery. Contact us today for more information and to start your recovery.