What is Sober Living House, Is it an Effective Way of Treatment?

what are Sober Living Homes

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To a person who has just emerged from an alcohol addiction treatment center, the very idea of going back to a world full of stresses and anxieties and trying to live independently without drinking is nerve-racking. There are also palpable dangers of this radical transformation. Recovering addicts have been known to relapse after finding themselves unable to cope with the demands of living independently and staying away from alcohol.

Sober living homes help make this transition smoother and stress-free.

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Table ofContents:

What Are Sober Living Homes?

A sober living house is a group home where people recovering from alcohol addiction can choose to stay while undergoing treatment programs or after leaving a rehab facility. Sober houses have strict rules to assist the people in maintaining their healthy lifestyle.

Sober living homes or halfway houses are group homes where people recovering from addiction issues may choose to stay after completing a stint at an inpatient rehab facility or while attending a treatment program at an outpatient center.

The goals of sober living homes are to support sobriety, prevent relapse, and help to transition smoothly from the structured and guided world of an inpatient rehab to mainstream life where one would be expected to live and function independently without drinking.

Here’s what should be known about sober living homes:

  • Rent has to be paid to stay in a sober living home.
  • They have less structured regimens than inpatient addiction treatment facilities.
  • An individual can stay here provided one has been sober for some time.
  • One should be free from withdrawal symptoms and/or physical disorders resulting from addiction.
  • It is mandatory that a person is sober during the stay here.
  • One can go out during the day to school or workplace but have to return to stay the night.
  • Most houses have curfew hours.
  • An individual is expected to adhere to the rules of the home that include doing the household chores that one may be assigned and attending regular counseling sessions.
  • One may be required to attend regular 12-step programs, like Alcoholics Anonymous, or similar sessions.
  • Most houses require to join a job or restart school after checking in.
  • A person may be subjected to periodic alcohol screening tests.
  • The minimum period of stay is usually 30 days. Some homes have programs for 60 and 90 days. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends a minimum stay of 90 days.

What Are the Benefits of Staying in Sober Living Homes?

An inpatient alcohol treatment facility helps an addict go through the detox process safely and if needed, treats him or her for any alcohol-induced physical and mental disorder. Although there are counseling and therapy sessions, the focus is always on the physical healing process.

But it’s impossible to stay here forever. A former addict has to eventually step out into the real world and confront the stresses and challenges that had triggered the alcohol use disorder in the first place. One has to fix life and mend the relationships that alcohol has ravaged.

An individual may have recovered physically, but what they now need is the emotional support, counseling, and guidance to rebuild life as one continues being sober. If one has just completed an inpatient alcohol addiction treatment program or are going through the treatment and rehab process at an outpatient facility, one will benefit from staying at a sober living home in the following ways:

Begin an independent alcohol-free life, but with a safety net

The chance of a relapse is the highest within the first few months after treatment when the recovering addict returns to a world that contains the drinking triggers. Contrary to popular notion, even those who have been through a professional and formal treatment program are vulnerable to relapsing during this period. The relapse rate is just over 40 percent.

Obviously, the challenges of starting to live independently prove too stressful for some people. They had once been accustomed to shielding themselves from the reality by taking refuge in alcohol. Now when they have to confront the real world, most are overwhelmed and many fall back to their old drinking patterns.

Staying in a sober living home lets people navigate the stresses and combat the triggers present in mainstream life while being supported by a safety net of:

  • Regular counseling sessions to realign negative beliefs, attitudes, and coping mechanisms
  • A sober environment
  • Companionship of people who strive towards the common goal of sobriety and spur each other to stay on track

Learn to live an alcohol-free life, by choice

At an inpatient treatment facility, there is no choice but to stay away from alcohol. But the real test of sobriety is when one does not yield to temptation even when one has the choice.

When an individual stays in a sober living home, they choose to stay sober. During stay here, one learns to “choose” to say no to alcohol even if a person has the choice to back out. One learns to make his or her own way through life without resorting to alcohol.

Restore the self-esteem by functioning independently and staying away from alcohol

When one starts living and functioning independently in the mainstream of life and being able to resist the temptations to drink, the self-esteem is restored.

  • An individual feels empowered and more in control of life and choices.
  • One no longer feels compelled to seek refuge in alcohol when you are stressed.
  • A person feels confident about living independently when one performs satisfactorily the chores assigned to them at home.
  • The more former addict resists the temptation to drink, the less the brain associates alcohol with rewarding feelings like relaxation, and the easier it is to stay sober.

Process emotions, attitudes, and beliefs before returning to mainstream society

A stay at a sober living home gives the opportunity to deal with the negative attitudes and emotions that one may harbor. Here’s how:

  • Understand the Nature of Addiction: Counseling sessions with therapists let the patient understand the roots of addiction and the emotional triggers that made them reach for that bottle of wine in the first place.
  • Accept The Condition: Realize that addiction is not a moral flaw. Self-acceptance is critical for emotional well-being. When one is at peace and not racked by guilt or shame, one can work on rebuilding the bridges one has burned with friends and family members.
  • Revamp Coping Mechanisms: Attending the 12-step or a similar program lets overhaul the coping strategies, so one sheds the unhealthy ones and adopt healthier ways to deal with drinking triggers.

Create a lifelong support network of sober friends who have been through the same gamut of experiences

The friends one makes at the sober living home usually go on to become the lifelong associates. These are deep bonds that form between people who understand each other and are striving towards a common goal. These are the people who one can open up to and unburden the heart without feeling guilty or inhibited. This support is crucial to abstinence success, as concluded by a study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.

Who Should Stay at a Sober Living Home?

Who Should Stay at a Sober Living Home

One can choose whether or not to stay at a sober living home; it is not mandatory. However, one should ideally stay here in the following circumstances:

  • There is no societal structure back home that supports sobriety.
  • An individual is unsure about the ability to resist the drinking triggers back home.
  • One is right now uncomfortable facing the people whom they have hurt in the past.
  • One is not confident about being able to live and function independently without drugs.
  • A person has no home to return to and need a temporary shelter while they try to rebuild a life.
  • One wants to save money by staying in a sober living home while attending an outpatient alcohol treatment program instead of getting admitted to an inpatient facility.

How to Find the Best Sober Living Home

To choose a sober living home, consider the following factors:

  • Credibility of the house
  • Admittance criteria
  • House rules
  • Quiet and peaceful location
  • Affordable rental cost
  • Beneficial services offered

There are countless sober living homes, but not all will fulfill the unique needs. Don’t fall for the glossiest ad! Consider the following factors to choose the best sober living home that lets one recover from issues stress-free:

  • Credibility: Do a research well to ensure that a person chooses a reputable organization. Speaking to former and current residents can help to gather the facts. The Better Business Bureau website to carries reviews. The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities certifies sober living homes throughout the U.S. based on the quality of care they provide. The National Alliance on Recovery Residences lists sober living homes that meet their stringent quality criteria.
  • Admittance Criterion: Some homes require that one goes through a formal, medically-assisted detox program while others will accept an individual as long as they can prove that they are free of withdrawal symptoms and is not suffering from alcoholism-induced physical and mental disorders. Most homes require that one has been sober for some time.
  • House Rules: Rules vary across homes, however, all require that one has to be sober during a stay. Some houses are so strict that they even ban from using certain mouthwashes because they contain alcohol. Besides, most houses require residents to attend a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous and agree to be subjected to random alcohol screening tests. There are also non-12 step homes.
  • Location: Sober living homes are usually located in quiet neighborhoods where the environment to aids the healing process. But make sure that the home is not on a street or neighborhood littered with bars. A recovering addict wouldn’t want to court temptation! One would also want to stay somewhere close to the place of study or work, so they can attend the house meetings and adhere to the curfew timings.
  • Cost: Staying in a sober living home is less costly than getting admitted to an inpatient alcohol rehab facility. There are low-cost homes while some let needy people stay at reduced rental prices. Government-funded sober living homes and those run by non-profit organizations are free. Some homes accept Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance. Some homes let to negotiate a payment plan or offer flexibility with the first month’s rent.
  • Services: Although sober living homes do not provide the extensive gamut of facilities of a residential rehab center, one can find houses that offer therapies for families, customized coaching and mentoring programs, legal support to deal with custody and/or employment issues, music and art therapy, job search support, meditation and yoga classes, and Jewish meals. Of course, the more the services on offer, the steeper will be the cost of living.

How Much does it Cost to Live in a Sober Living House?

Living in a sober home is less expensive than being admitted into a rehab facility. Some sober homes offer reduced rental prices while others are government-funded and are free. Some houses also accept payments coming from Medicare or private insurance company.

A sober living home provides a smooth transition from the sheltered and regimented life of a residential rehab program into a chaotic and unstructured world of duties and responsibilities. By empowering an individual with emotional strength and teaching him or her the requisite life skills and coping strategies, sober living homes not only help prevent relapses but also create opportunities to rebuild shattered lives and fix broken relationships.

View Sources
  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1976118/
  2. http://www.carf.org/home/


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