Sober Living Meaning
Sober living homes (SLHs) were created to provide a safe, supportive, and affordable housing option to those in recovery. Typically, people choose a sober living community as the next step after rehab or detox. They serve as a stable residential environment while residents continue their treatment for addiction. A men’s sober living home is simply a gender specific facility, meaning that admission is limited only to male residents. The houses usually, don’t receive government funding, so the residents pay rent. Since these homes tend to have 4 or more bedrooms, the number of residents at any one facility usually hovers are 4-12 people. This smaller group provides a community atmosphere of shared responsibility and support. Men’s sober living homes like the ones offered by The District Recovery Community take it a step further by grouping residents in their age categories. Residents under 30 are in different homes than those who are older. The thought being that just as it is in a social environment, people tend to socialize in peer groups with people of similar age. Each sober living community maintains a communal recovery environment which includes abstinence from drugs and alcohol, peer support, and typically require attendance in self-help groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Usually, there are no formal treatment services are offered on-site, but individuals are expected to work towards developing life habits that support long-term recovery. Sober living homes assist with establishing and working toward these recovery goals. Rather than being run by formal treatment providers, SLHs are and typically overseen by a house manager or a group of senior residents. Residents are surrounded by others in recovery that “get it.” Residents can stay as long as they need with the abstinence-based housing model providing a critical support system.
The concept of sober living environments was started by those in recovery who wanted to bridge the gap between intensive, early recovery and sustainable, long-term recovery. There are similarities how sober living homes were created and how the 12-step movement was created. Both were developed by people who were recovering from addiction. After Prohibition ended in the 1930s, addiction spread at a faster pace. Alcoholics Anonymous was created around this time and AA facilities and meetings popped up around the country. The thought of sober living homes was created later, and grew out of the vacuum created by medical and housing policies that treated addiction as an acute, short-term problem. This assumption ignored housing obstacles for those in early stages of recovery. As treatment for addiction shifted from state institutions to community-based care, the need for housing for those in recovery were presented a new option: sober living homes. This began first in California in the 1970s. Sober living homes were different approach. Instead of utilizing an acute treatment model that views addiction as “treated” or “cured” after a short stay at an inpatient program, these homes provide long-term recovery while living and working in the community. This makes sense, as anyone who has ever been through rehab or detox can attest, it’s hard to go from rehab back to the same environment you came from. There are simply too many triggers and memories.
How it Works
Since sober living homes are not detox facilities and are devoid of medical supervision, they should not be the first choice in beating addiction. However, selecting a sober living home prior to entering rehab is a good idea, primarily to put the addict’s mind at ease. If an addict has made the commitment to a sober living lifestyle, they should first choose their rehab facility and then their sober living community. The thought process behind this is simple: these decisions should be made early on so that the recovering addict has a roadmap to recovery with no gaps. In fact, there is strong science to suggest that recovery is exponentially more successful if a sober living home is part of the recovery process.
The Science Behind Men’s Sober Living
There have been several scientific studies done over the years. Times have changed and so has society and with that in mind, the latest complete study was in 2010. Scientists studied 300 individuals entering two different types of sober living homes over an 18 month period. Patients were studied at two completely different facilities, but were sober living homes in California. The scientists charted results over a period 6, 12 and 18 months. The promising outcomes for SLH residents suggest that sober living houses might play more substantive roles for persons: 1) completing residential treatment, 2) attending outpatient treatment, 3) seeking non-treatment alternatives for recovery, and 4) entering the community after criminal justice incarceration. Addicts who utilized sober living homes as part of their recovery process stayed sober at a much higher percentage than those that didn’t; they had better success at finding/maintaining employment; they had much lower instances of run ins with the law. Overwhelmingly, the studies showed much higher rates of success if the addict followed this path:
- Sober Living Home
- Continued participation in support groups (ex. A.A. or N.A.)
A Typical Day
A typical day at men’s sober living community isn’t much different than what you’d expect. Residents make their beds, handle their personal grooming needs as they start their day. Some residents go to their jobs, other go to school. Newer residents typically attend more support groups (like AA meetings) when they arrive. Over time, they might not go every day as they slowly reintegrate with the daily routines that most young adults have. There’s time to handle personal and legal affairs, such as getting a new driver’s license, handling one’s financial affairs, etc. This all part of the process. Chores are posted on billboard inside the home and each resident is expected to contribute. At required weekly meetings, residents talk about their problems, their achievements over the past week and their goals for the next one. House managers monitor activities of the residents to be sure curfews are adhered to and that no overnight guests are allowed. The latter part of the day is typically open for recreational activities. Special events, such as snowboarding trips, deep sea fishing and paintball excursions are part of The District Recovery Community’s “Adventure Therapy” approach. Ultimately, sober living homes offer a quiet, stable, supervised environment free from distractions and triggers.
The short answer, generally as long as you want. Scientific studies show that the best results and the lowest chance of relapse occurs when residents commit to a sober living community for six to nine months. Considering the time one might spend at such a facility, researching the attributes of any sober living home you’re considering would be wise. You’ll find a long list of such facilities, many in California. That’s no surprise given that Southern California offers great weather, culture, activity centers and options. It’s one of the many reasons TDRC has chosen Southern California as the location for many of their sober living homes.