Information on Sober Living Communities

Last updated: 12 August 2022

Sober living homes allow individuals to be independent and offer structure to help those starting their recovery journey. Transitioning from drug rehab to your life is not always easy, and sober living homes provide the needed support structure. To help, Addicted.org has a comprehensive list of sober living homes to help you find housing that is right for you.

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Sober living homes are also referred to as other housing types, like halfway houses or recovery housing. However, sober living homes primarily focus on helping residents transition from treatment to the real world. Generally, sober living communities refer to group residences for people recovering from addiction.

The house residents agree to remain sober while living within the community and agree to comply with drug testing or alcohol screening requirements. Most sober living homes in America are privately owned homes, but some are operated through local charities and businesses. Sober living homes are commonly located in residential neighborhoods because residents of sober living homes become involved in neighborhood activities and volunteer work. While living in a sober living home, you may have your own room or share accommodations, but every home is different. The kitchen and living area spaces are communal, and everyone pitches in with household chores and maintenance.

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Sober living communities are not treatment centers, and the staff does not provide clinical or medical services. However, some residents do attend outpatient treatment or participate in peer support groups as part of an aftercare plan. The purpose of sober living is to support a clean and sober lifestyle. Someone who leaves a treatment center may not have a safe and drug-free environment to go back to. They may otherwise be exposed to drug or alcohol use and do not have stable housing or a support network.

Typically, residents move into a sober living home directly after treatment, but others may transition into a sober living home after a period of abstinence followed by relapse. Sober living communities are also part of aftercare plans when someone completes rehabilitation. Recovery is often a long process that varies from person to person. After completing residential rehabilitation, moving into a sober living house can help the person readjust to daily life without the use of drugs or alcohol. Sober living communities offer constructive living environments and supportive services, assisting people in recovery. The process is meant to help the person develop healthy routines and structures without the use of drugs or alcohol.

When is Sober Living the Best Option to Consider?

According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, among people aged 12 or older, 1.5% or 4.2 million people received any substance use treatment, and one percent got help from a specialty facility. In 2019, an estimated 21.6 million people aged 12 or older needed substance use treatment. Approximately 2.1 million received help from a self-help group, and 1.7 million attended a rehabilitation facility. Moreover, 95.7% of people who did not receive treatment felt they did not need it.

Addiction is a revolving door for so many people, and it requires a significant time to treat properly. One of the most difficult parts of recovery is the process of leaving treatment and figuring out a life without drugs or alcohol. Sober living communities are excellent resources to consider when leaving treatment, which is the best time to access this method of help. Someone who benefits from staying at a sober living home includes people who suffer from medical or mental health issues in addition to addiction. Individuals who have been through rehab previously on one or more occasions, and those individuals who do not have a strong support system in place at home.

According to the Alcohol Research Group, a sober living home's central objective is to provide a positive living environment that reduces exposure to relapse triggers. Sober living homes provide safe, supportive, and affordable housing options to those in recovery. Sober living communities have been used as aftercare placements for clients completing treatment and places for clients to live while attending outpatient treatment. Generally, houses are funded through resident fees, which are different for each home. People at a sober living home craft a life that supports their recovery efforts.

Sober living homes provide invaluable support for residents as they get to live with like-minded individuals in recovery. Everyone helps keep everyone accountable, and residents end up developing meaningful relationships with other residents. Sober living communities are a great option to alleviate any concern someone has from going from a monitored and structured environment like a treatment center back into daily life.

The History and Effectiveness of Sober Living Homes

The history of sober living communities is similar to how the 12-step movement was created. Sober living communities were started by people recovering from addiction who wanted to bridge the gap between early recovery and sustainable long-term success. The need for sober living communities came about due to how addiction was treated as a short-term problem. Recovering addicts were ignored and brushed aside and found it difficult to find suitable housing during the early stages of recovery. Eventually, the recovery community moved towards a continuum of care model that addressed the needs of those struggling with addiction through all stages of recovery.

Overall, there has been little research done on the effectiveness of sober living communities; however, sober living homes have existed as a recovery option in the United States since the 1970s. A study published in 2010 studied 300 individuals entering two different types of sober living homes over 18 months. It found involvement in 12-step groups and characteristics of the social network were strong predictors of outcome. The study showed the importance of social and environmental factors in recovery. The characteristics of a sober living home are described as the following: "1) an alcohol and drug-free living environment for individuals attempting to abstain from alcohol and drugs. 2) no formal treatment services but either mandated or strongly encouraged attendance at 12-step self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. 3) required compliance with house rules. 4) resident responsible for financing rent and other costs. 5) an invitation for residents to stay in the house as long as they wish provided they comply with house rules" (Characteristics of Sober Living Houses).

The study found that resident improvement was seen in various areas, including drug and alcohol use, employment, and arrests. Improvements in drug and alcohol use and severity were made and maintained 18 months after initial entry into a sober living home. The average length of stay was approximately three months, with longer lengths of stay associated with the most significant improvements.

How Do Sober Communities Living Operate?

Sober living homes are not inpatient treatment centers, and patients are totally immersed in their rehabilitation programs. Residents are not bound to the house, and they can come and go as they please. The purpose is to help the individual ease back into society and start going back to daily tasks and responsibilities. However, sober living homes still have rules, that residents must abide by, such as curfews, group meetings, no drugs or alcohol, etc. The support system within a sober living home allows the resident to avoid the isolation that can sometimes come with returning home while in recovery. Overall, sober living homes provide a combination of freedom and structure to help the person begin to readjust to life outside rehabilitation.

Some sober living homes are more structured than others, and the risk of relapse is still there like anywhere else. Sober living homes are not always accessible to everyone because the cost of recovery housing can be a factor for some people. Sober living homes could be more expensive than living independently, but the fees go towards rent, housing management, drug testing, and other costs associated with running a sober environment. The rules associated with sober living homes are there to support recovery, help keep residents safe, and help people build sober lifestyles.

Each home has its own rules, like no drugs or alcohol, residents pay their appropriate expenses to live in the home, and residents must participate in household activities like weekly meetings or regular chores. Residents of sober living homes must have completed detox and rehabilitation and should have a plan to go to therapy or 12-step meetings. Residents must also sleep at the sober living home at least five nights per week and must participate in random drug tests and alcohol screening. Residents are accountable for their whereabouts and must adhere to the house curfew. Typically, residents are not allowed overnight guests and must respect other housemates and home staff.

Sober Living Homes Help You Stay Sober

A sober living home is not the same as clinical treatment; however, there are specific activities that help promote sobriety and discover new ways to maintain it. A big aspect of most sober living homes is 12-step meetings. In the absence of formal treatment, attendance to self-help groups is strongly recommended as a condition of living at a sober living home. It is usually suggested that all residents actively participate and work on a recovery plan. Moreover, there are usually house meetings because peer support is a crucial component of remaining sober.

Sober living homes also help residents make new sober friends and build a support network of other like-minded people. Peer support is an important factor in the recovery process, and senior members in a sober living home help new members through support and encouragement. Sober living homes also help residents with getting and maintaining employment and reintegrating into society. The process helps with developing a healthy routine by obtaining and maintaining employment.

The main goal of sober living is to help people maintain sobriety and improve their quality of life. Living at a sober living home has a positive impact on a person's recovery in a number of ways. Initially, it helps the person stay employed and encourages residents to seek employment. Some sober living communities may help with vocational training and learning new job skills. The prospect of developing new friends and relationships is also beneficial. Peer support is at the foundation of how sober living communities function.

Sober living homes provide stable housing while you adjust to your new life. Paying housing costs and maintaining a home makes it easier to transition to another form of housing after. Returning to an environment immediately after rehab can be overwhelming, and sober housing bridges this gap effectively.

Are There Alternatives to Sober Living Communities?

If a sober living home is not the option, you want to consider there are some alternatives. Halfway houses are different from sober living homes as they are normally the kind of residential facility an individual will enter after incarceration as opposed to rehab. Halfway houses do not usually require residents to have a job upon arrival and usually do not require residents to pay rent, but this varies. However, halfway houses are particularly beneficial to someone who attended rehab as a mandate of the criminal justice system.

Additionally, another option to consider is living with someone when you leave treatment. If you had been living on your own before rehabilitation, it could be much safer to move in with someone you trust. Having a roommate who knows your situation is beneficial, as your roommate can help you identify triggers. Having a roommate close by helps with being able to discuss feelings and help you work through any difficult time. Living with someone after rehab is a possible alternative to sober living housing because you would still feel safe and comfortable with someone you know.

Common Terminology with Sober Living Communities

Term Definition
Recovery Housing is another term for sober living housing and refers to safe, healthy, and substance-free living environments that support individuals in recovery from addiction. Recovery residences vary widely in structure and are all centered on peer support and a connection to services that promote long-term recovery.
Halfway Housing These are residential facilities that typically help individuals who have been released from prison and need a transition period. Halfway houses also help people who are recovering from addiction after leaving a residential rehabilitation center.
Peer Support Groups Sober living homes usually encourage residents to attend peer support groups. These groups are like-minded people who have all dealt with similar issues in life and support one another through these problems.
12-Step Meetings These are peer support meetings that use the 12-steps based on Alcoholics Anonymous. Each member is applying the steps in their lives and working with other members to support one another through recovery. Sober living homes usually utilize 12-step meetings as part of the house routine and daily activities.
Outpatient Treatment These are rehabilitation services where the patient is not living at the facility but traveling to treatment daily. It is not uncommon for residents of sober living homes to attend outpatient treatment as part of their aftercare plan.
Individual Counseling Sometimes referred to as psychotherapy, is a process through which clients work one on one with trained mental health clinicians and addictions counselors to address the issues associated with their addiction. Residents of a sober living home may attend outside counseling as part of recovery.
Group Counseling A counseling group is comprised of six to eight people who meet face to face with one or two trained group therapists and talk about what most concerns them. Sober living homes usually encourage group counseling while residents live at sober living homes.

CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ARTICLE

Marcel Gemme, DATS

Marcel Gemme, DATS

Author

on August 12, 2022

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Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.

Michael Leach, CCMA

Michael Leach, CCMA

Medically Reviewed

on August 12, 2022

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Michael Leach is a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, who has over 5 years of experience working in the field of addiction. He spent his career working under the board-certified Addictionologist Dr. Rohit Adi. His experience includes working with families during their loved one’s stay in treatment, helping those with substance abuse issues find treatment, and teaching life skills to patients in a recovery atmosphere. Though he has worked in many different areas of rehabilitation, the majority of his time was spent working one on one with patients who were actively withdrawing from drugs. Withdrawal and the fear of going through it is one biggest reason why an addict continues to use and can be the most difficult part of the rehabilitation process. His experience in the withdrawal atmosphere has taught him that regardless of what approach a person takes to get off drugs, there are always mental and emotional obstacles that need to be overcome. He believes having someone there to help a person through these obstacles can make all the difference during the withdrawal process.