Also called “Transitional living,” sober living is a place where recovering addicts and alcoholics can live before they transition into normal life. Many people go into sober living after traditional drug detox and drug rehab to strengthen their recovery. A sober living is often a house or apartment inhabited by other people trying to stay sober. There is usually some structure like curfews, drug tests and chores, but there may not be quite as many scheduled activities as drug rehab. Sober living provides structure and accountability while we learn to experience everyday life without drugs or alcohol. Living with sober peers with a common goal strengthens our coping skills, provides additional healing after drug rehab, and prepares us for the ups and downs of normal life.
Living with others who know the struggles of addiction can build life long bonds. As we learn ways to cope and stay sober, we can help others learn as well. With common intention comes strength. In sober living we can help each other get to 12 step meetings, provide advice or a caring ear, and also share the joys of sobriety. Studies have found that living at least 6 months in the supportive community structure of a sober living significantly decreases the chances that you will relapse. Support through community and personal connection gives us the stability we need.
Freedom from Triggers
Often, 30 or 60 days of drug rehab is just not enough. A lifetime of addictive behavior patterns do not go away magically. In sober living, there is distance between where we live now and where we used to live. A new environment away from old friends, dealers and familiar places can keep us from temptation as we heal and become stronger. With time and personal work, we can return home and not be tempted to take drugs or drink alcohol. Sober living gives us time away from distractions in a protected environment.
It takes time to adjust to sobriety. Many of us did just about everything while drunk or high. How do we relate with others without drugs? How do we get a job and keep it without a glass of wine after a shift? How do we date? We can only learn how to do these things by doing them. Each time we make it through a work day and lay our head on the pillow sober, it is a victory and it makes us stronger. Living in a transitional setting where we have the support of others helps us make it through. And, with practice, we develop new habits and coping mechanisms. Having the time to relearn life in a sober setting is a luxury and a gift.
Having to do chores or being drug tested may not sound like fun, but they can be just what we need when we are newly sober. Most sober living arrangements require periodic drug testing to make sure everyone is staying sober. This is as much for your protection as it is for others. It can be a comfort to know that everyone you live with is staying away from drugs and alcohol. Knowing we are responsible for chores and going to meetings keeps us active and out of self-pity.
Many sober living houses require that you attend a certain number of twelve-step meetings per week. This insures that you are active in your recovery and not slipping back into old patterns. Having structure in our lives, especially in early recovery, keeps us active, conscious of our choices and, most importantly, sober.
Build a New Life
Drug addiction and alcoholism takes everything from us. Many of us had to lose our jobs, our homes and our families before we made the decision to go to drug rehab and get sober. After drug detox and drug rehab, we may need to start afresh. We need to get a job and learn to pay our bills on time. We need to rebuild relationships we have harmed along the way. We need to rebuild a sense of stability and learn to stay on course and honor our commitments. Sober living is the environment that helps us rebuild our lives. Often, sober living more affordable than renting an apartment alone. There are no deposits or credit checks. Many sober living houses can give you a ride to work and to twelve step meetings, so having a car isn’t necessary. Sober living is the perfect transitional living arrangement that allows you to “get back on your feet.”
In many cases, it is up to you. Many sober living homes suggest you stay 3-12 months. The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment published a study in 2010. They found that staying in sober living 6 months to 18 months after intensive drug rehab is the best option for staying sober in the long term. People who stay in sober living for a long enough period of time are less likely to relapse, get into trouble with the law, or face homelessness. How long should you stay in sober living? Stay as long as you can, if you want to stay sober and start a new life.
Sober Living with IOP
Many people in early recovery attend aftercare programs like Intensive Outpatient Programs, also known as “IOP.” In IOP, clients attend group therapy and individual counseling a specific number of times a week. Clients also attend life skills and relapse prevention training. This period of recovery after intensive drug rehab treatment focuses on uncovering the root causes of addiction. Clients learn about their habitual thought patterns and how to replace them with healthy thoughts and actions. Intensive Outpatient Programs bolster our resolve and prepare us for facing life’s challenges while remaining sober.
Common Rules at a Sober Living
Every sober living home is different and has their own set of rules. The following are customary rules among most sober living homes.
The answer is yes. Living in a community with others who are staying sober helps us feel supported and loved. Structure and rules keep us active, purposeful and dedicated to our sobriety. Therapy and life skills training at intensive outpatient programs help us learn to face the days sober. Sober living allows us time after intensive drug rehab treatment to rebuild our lives. We can get new jobs, heal relationships and learn what our triggers are and how to face them. Sober living is a meaningful bridge back into society
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