When a loved one completes a drug or alcohol treatment program, that is a huge step on the road to recovery. However, for the large majority of people, there is much more work to be done once formal treatment is complete. To maintain long-term sobriety, most individuals need a transition step between formal treatment and returning to their initial living situation. For many, that transition step involves a sober living home.
Sober living homes are residences that house individuals who have recently completed drug or alcohol treatment programs. These homes serve as a bridge between the solid structure of a treatment program and readjusting to the stressors of daily life. Studies have shown that individuals who spend time in sober living homes after treatment have lower rates of drug and alcohol use, improvement in psychiatric symptoms, higher rates of employment, and fewer arrests. Due to these positive outcomes, sober living homes are often lauded as the key to recovery.
If you are researching sober living options for a loved one, you may be wondering—what is it about sober living homes that make them so conducive to recovery? Keep reading to learn the benefits of sober living homes and how these entities contribute to residents’ long-term sobriety.
Benefits of Sober Living Homes
Structure and Accountability
In an inpatient treatment facility, individuals have 24-hour supervision and a deep sense of structure. Days are planned out from dawn to dusk and are mainly filled with recovery-related programming. When an individual goes directly from this structured treatment environment to complete freedom in the “real world”, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Many individuals may be tempted to turn to drugs or alcohol as they return to the stressors of daily life or can be triggered by certain places, people, or situations.
A sober living home can provide a wonderful in-between for individuals looking to transition from treatment back to their original community. Reputable sober living homes still provide a sense of structure for residents by having mandatory house meetings, chore schedules, and curfews. Individuals may also be held accountable for their sobriety with random drug testing. Many sober living homes, such as Harbor Recovery, work on a tiered system where individuals earn privileges and increased freedom based on good behavior. This allows individuals to wean themselves from a highly structured environment and feel trustworthy with the freedom that exists outside of treatment facilities.
Sober living homes are meant to provide a safe space for individuals to focus on their recovery. This means that residents will be under staff supervision while living in the home to ensure that they’re following the rules and maintaining sobriety. Reputable sober living homes will also have an awake staff member present 24 hours a day. This not only contributes to the accountability discussed above, but also provides residents with a person to turn to at any hour of the day should a crisis occur.
In addition to an awake member of staff available 24 hours a day, many sober living homes provide on-site counselors, case workers, and 12-Step groups that provide emotional support to residents during their early days of sobriety. Recovery can be an emotionally challenging process, and many people need help as they begin to set up their lives as sober individuals. By having this type of staff on hand, residents can continue to receive care and support as they move forward in the recovery process.
If you’re considering a sober living home that does not have certain support staff or 12-step meetings on-site, ask about transportation to such services to ensure that your loved one gets the emotional support he or she needs.
For many people, leaving treatment can be challenging due to the loss of sober peers. In a treatment program, individuals are constantly in contact with other sober individuals who may be facing similar fears and challenges. When a person moves directly from treatment back to their original community, he or she may not have consistent, regular interactions with sober people who understand what they are going through. In sober living homes, all individuals are in recovery and are working through the same uncomfortable transition from treatment back to regular life. This sense of community and peer support can motivate individuals to maintain their sobriety. Some sober living homes, such as Harbor Recovery, may even offer mentorship programs between new and established residents to facilitate guidance and support between peers.
Before they got sober, some individuals may have cut ties with jobs or school due to drug or alcohol use. Consequently, when individuals return to their communities, they may find that what gave them a sense of purpose in the past (aside from drugs or alcohol) is no longer available. Without a sense of purpose, it can be easy for newly sober individuals to sink into depression or feel compelled to start using again. In sober living homes, individuals may have access to volunteer opportunities, big brother/little brother programs, as well as assistance in job searches or applying to school. By feeling like they have a sense of purpose and reason to get up in the morning, individuals are more likely to stick to their recovery programming and remain committed to sobriety.
Sober Social Support
One thing many individuals find when they leave treatment is that they’re not sure how to have fun without drugs or alcohol. Before getting sober, social activities may have been centered around drinking or drug use. Individuals may have been using regularly with friends or felt like they needed drugs or alcohol in order to have a good time. What’s more, many holidays like New Years Eve and Fourth of July are known as “party” holidays, where drugs or alcohol may be present and their use is normalized or even encouraged.
Sober living homes like Harbor Recovery offer sober outings such as camping, concerts, and beach days, where individuals will have the opportunity to see that having fun while sober is possible. Many sober living homes will also host holiday gatherings to give individuals a safe, fun, substance-free space to celebrate with other sober individuals. By having this sober social support, residents will be able to transition back to their communities with the confidence that they can still have a good time without any kind of substance use.
Life Skills Training
Sober living homes are not just a place of residence for sober individuals. In fact, most sober living homes have made it their mission to prepare residents to be independent and self-sufficient. This gives residents a sense of responsibility and self-worth, both of which are important in the recovery process.
To aid in this mission, many sober living homes offer life skills training where individuals can learn important skills such as cooking, cleaning, budgeting, and resume building. All of these skills are required for a healthy, independent life, which ultimately, is what sober living houses are setting their residents up for.
As mentioned previously, sober living homes want their residents to live healthy, happy, and purposeful lives in order to motivate individuals to adhere to long-term sobriety. To do this, residents need to learn about healthy habits that not only benefit their bodies, but also contribute positively to their mental health.
Many sober living homes have programming that teaches residents about fitness, nutrition, and mindfulness. All of these components are important parts of living a healthy life and also teach residents about self-discipline and resilience. Some sober living homes, such as Harbor Recovery, may even give residents workout and meal plans, access to a gym, and organize group sports activities.
If a friend or family member has recently completed or plans to complete a formal drug or alcohol treatment program, take action now to see if sober living could be the best next step for your loved one’s recovery. It’s important to start this process early, as some sober living homes may have a waitlist, so the sooner you start your research the better. As a friend or family member, some action steps you can take at this time include:
- Speak with your loved one’s case manager at their current treatment facility. They can help make arrangements for a sober living home or offer guidance in regards to what sober living options may be available.
- Do your research. Every sober living home is different and they are not all created equal. To help in your research, check out our post on what to look for in a sober living home.
- Talk to your loved one about what type of support and/or amenities are important to them in a sober living environment. Since they will be the ones residing in the home, it’s crucial to get their input before making a final decision.
- Start planning for the transition from treatment to sober living. Our post on transitioning from treatment to sober living may help.
- Contact Harbor Recovery Sober Living and talk to one our trusted recovery advisors for a free and confidential consultation. They can discuss your options and advise you as to whether Harbor Recovery may be a good fit for your friend or family member.