Many people choose to go to sober living homes after inpatient treatment. You may know these programs as sober living homes, sober living environments, SLE’s, or sometimes halfway houses. If you’ve been in the recovery community for some time, you’re probably pretty familiar with how they work. However, those new to recovery or the behavioral health fields often don’t know exactly what a sober living home is. We thought it’d be useful to offer some insight into this phase of treatment and include some example sober living house rules, costs of sober homes, and why they can be helpful in the recovery process.
What is Sober Living?
A sober living home is a residence where newly sober individuals live with some structure and responsibility. People often live in these environments after completing inpatient treatment or the detox process. Most sober homes require that individuals arrive with at least some recovery time, as they are not medical facilities.
People may live in sober livings for a few months or a few years, whatever they feel comfortable with. Unlike inpatient treatment, sober livings often allow residents to have cars and freedom. People have the ability to spend time with friends, go to meetings of their choice, and engage in fun activities with other sober people. Sober living homes can be found across the country, and offer a variety of methods and models for helping their residents.
Why Sober Living?
Sober living is just one phase of the recovery process, usually coming after an inpatient stay. The idea behind sober living is to offer a way for the recovering addict to gently immerse themselves back into the real world. There have been studies which suggest long-term treatment is more effective than short-term treatment, and sober living is part of this equation. As the recovering addict is provided structure in their lives for longer than just their residential stay at a detox or inpatient center, their chance of recovery goes up.
In sober living, a person has the chance to engage with the outside world while benefiting from the structure of a routine and accountability. When we’re new in recovery, we have the task of learning a new way to live. Engaging with the world in a new way can be difficult, and a sober living environment can help us make this transition with some support.
One of the other ways in which we benefit is by having the opportunity to build a support network and surround ourselves with like-minded people. Of course residents aren’t all best friends all the time, but they have the chance to interact with other sober people trying to build new lives. Instead of returning home to old situations and friends, a person can build new relationships that lift them up and offer a deeper understanding and support.
Sober Living House Rules
Most sober livings have rules about drug and alcohol use, curfew times, visiting hours, meeting attendance, house chores, and generally safe behavior. The rules of not having substances or using drugs is pretty obvious. The curfew times are to encourage residents to build a regular schedule and not participate in activities that may be harmful to their recovery. The visiting hours are to protect the community as a whole, making sure the environment is safe for all residents.
The sober living house rules aren’t meant to just be restrictive. Rather, they are guidelines to building a healthy community and recovery. The rules may seem difficult to follow or a lot, but they’re generally really doable. Although it may be a bit more restrictive than you’re used to in your full freedom, it’s often just a few months of your life while you learn to live a new and healthy sober life.
Sober Living Cost
The costs of sober living homes varies greatly. There are places that offer affordable sober living and places that offer high-end luxurious sober living with all the amenities you could imagine. Some people can afford the more expensive homes and feel more comfortable in a lifestyle to which they’re already accommodated. Others need something much more affordable and just want a safe place to recover.
Furthermore, there are programs that offer PHP, or a Partial Hospitalization Program. At a PHP program, you attend groups and therapy like you might do at an outpatient facility. The difference is that a PHP program also houses you. To be clear, this is different from the illegal “bed voucher” system in which an outpatient facility essentially pays for your housing at a third-party sober living. A PHP program is one single program that incorporates outpatient treatment and community housing. With a PHP program, you may have insurance coverage to help with the costs of keeping a roof over your head.
Finding the Right Home
As there are tons of sober living homes out there, we encourage you to do some investigation before choosing one for yourself or a loved one. We’ve found that a great way to go is to ask the advice of a professional or person with experience, as long as they aren’t affiliated with any sober livings in the area. Try to get some objective information and not opinions from people that have any financial skin in the game. You may try finding alumni from specific programs to ask about how it was living there.
You can place a few phone calls to different sober living homes and ask them a few questions. Find out about their rules, their program, how much structure they offer, and anything else you’re curious about. A sober living is not a forever home, so we don’t need to be too picky. But we can find something that feels like a good fit for us. Many sober living managers will be happy to give you a tour and introduce you to some current residents so you can get a better idea of what it’s like to live there.
Who Wrote This?
Elevation Behavioral Health is a treatment center in Agoura Hills, California that works with addiction, mental health, and co-occurring disorders. They’re one of the few addiction treatment centers licensed as a primary mental health facility, and offer premier care with their small census and incredible staff. Visit them at www.ElevationBehavioralHealth.com.
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