Recovery does not happen in 30 to 90 days. Rehab centers are only cocoons. Emerging into the outside world as a recovering butterfly is scary and shaky for most recovering individuals. Addiction experts agree that the recovery is a process that needs to be taken slowly and steadily in order to work for the long-term. The concept of sober living homes was founded on newly recovering individuals living together to provide support to each other as they slowly transition to the outside world. Forty to 60 percent of individuals relapse after they complete treatment. Sober living success rates are promising. Individuals who live in a sober living environment after rehab are 10 times more likely to achieve lifelong recovery after that stint in rehab.
What Makes a Good Sober Living Home?
Drug and Alcohol Free Environment
A drug and alcohol free environment is the most important aspect of a good sober living home. When you visit a prospective sober living home, you should review the policies regarding drugs and alcohol and listen to the staff talk about them. An explicitly written zero-tolerance policy and a staff who has a firm attitude about drug and alcohol use is what you need to look for. In early recovery, you cannot risk having any temptation to use.
Requirement to Attend 12-Step or Other Self-Help Meetings
A good sober living home understands the importance of working a recovery program. Abstinence is only half the battle. Working a recovery program is essential to avoiding falling back into the same behavior patterns and ways of thinking. The sober living home should have a requirement to attend self-help meetings. These self-help meetings do not have to be 12-Step Meetings. They can be 12-Step-Alternative Meetings (e.g. S.M.A.R.T. Recovery, Lifering Recovery, Women for Sobriety, or local open groups for families and addicts).
While the idea of rules may be appalling to you as an adult, house rules regarding division of chores, rent, other fees, attendance of meetings and house activities, abstinence, getting a job, going to school, curfew, etc. are necessary. These rules are not designed to control you or treat you like a child; they are designed to help you rebuild your life and learn responsibility.
Group Activities for Residents
While you will be required to attend outside meetings, the clean and sober housing should host meetings and other group activities (e.g. cooking, crafts, fitness, job searching, etc.) to reinforce the concepts of a fellowship and living a healthy lifestyle.
Most likely, there will be no set hierarchy in a sober living home because hierarchies in the recovery community have been frowned upon since Alcoholics’ Anonymous was founded in the 1930’s. However, there should be a resident council to allow all of the residents to have an equal say in addressing issues that may arise and improving the home.
No Time Requirement
An effective sober living facility will understand that everyone progresses at their own rate. There should be no minimum or maximum amount of time that you can live there. In addition, there should be no penalty (e.g. higher rent, more chores to take on, etc.) for living there longer than average. Home that have a minimum or maximum amount of time are either placing too much emphasis on money or too much pressure for people to progress.
A sober living facility should make residents aware of volunteer opportunities that arise in the community. Volunteer opportunities help residents make productive use of their time, boost their self-esteem, teach valuable skills, supplement their resume, and possibly make connections for jobs. Just like most successful rehab programs need to holistically treat addiction, sober living home needs to do the same.