What is Sober Living?
A sober living home helps guide residents who are trying to stop drinking or using drugs through the recovery process. These homes provide a sober living environment in a residential setting. Like halfway houses, they help transition residents from addiction and recovery back into normal life and a fruitful role in society.
Sober living homes are ideal for anyone suffering from alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder, typically those who have recently completed a course of addiction treatment. While some facilities are privately owned, others are owned by businesses or charitable foundations. Most of these facilities are subtly integrated into quiet, residential communities. The concept is to provide a peaceful backdrop so residents can focus fully on their recovery.
Addiction doesn’t discriminate and affects people of all ages, races, and socio-economic backgrounds. This is reflected in the diverse demographic makeup of most sober living homes.
Sober living homes are outpatient facilities and residents are free to come and go as they please. These homes help residents maintain their sobriety and help them establish healthy living habits as they prepare to productively reintegrate with society. At The District, you can expect top-notch sober living homes as well as access to intensive outpatient care and addiction recovery programs as a part of our partnerships with various rehabs in Orange County.
Sober Living House vs Halfway House
The primary difference between a sober living home and a halfway house in the US is the fact a halfway house will insist residents have either completed a course of addiction treatment or are actively pursuing treatment. This is not always the case with sober living homes, although it tends to be the norm for most residents.
Often, halfway houses are governed by government funding, and there are limitations on how long residents can remain. When court-ordered, the maximum duration of a stay in halfway housing is 12 months.
In sober living communities, the only requirements are to stay sober while complying with any house rules in place. You’ll need to pay rent and any other dues, and you’ll also need to complete household chores and attend meetings.
While some halfway houses cater for those recently released from prison, or for those with chronic mental health disorders, the majority of halfway housing today is targeted at those with substance use disorder.
What is a Sober Living Home’s Role in Addiction Recovery?
For many people, sober living homes play a vital role in recovery. They offer the following potential benefits:
- Independent living in a safe environment
- On-demand guidance and support
- Ease your transition back into everyday life
- Create a new sober network
- Minimize the risk of relapse
Independent living in a safe environment
The primary benefit of a sober living home is the way you can live independently in a way that’s just not possible with residential rehab.
That said, you’ll still have the support and structure you need in place, and you’ll be living in an environment with no drink or drugs, no triggers for substance abuse, and no stressors. Ease yourself gently into making healthier lifestyle choices as you move into ongoing sobriety.
On-demand guidance and support
Residents of sober living homes offer you a ready-made peer support network.
Most sober living communities also have some staff on-site. Whether you want some advice on resisting cravings or some job-hunting tips, there should always be someone on hand to lend a friendly ear.
Ease your transition back into everyday life
With a sober living home, you get a nice compromise between the cossetted sanctuary of residential rehab and the harsh reality of normal day-to-day life. Ease yourself slowly but surely back into society without feeling rushed.
Create a new sober network
As you leave drink and drugs behind you, it’s natural to start taking stock of some friendships and relationships. Any relationships centered on substance abuse are potentially damaging to your recovery. You should reevaluate these relationships.
In a sober living home, you’ll find yourself surrounded by others undergoing a broadly similar journey, albeit at varying stages. They should all share your commitment to sustained sobriety and meaningful change, providing you with a premade network of people to spend time with. In many cases, the friendships you form in sober living communities endure far beyond your stay.
Minimize the risk of relapse
The core goal of a sober living home is to provide you with a safe, supportive base for recovery.
The Evolution of the Sober Living House
In California, the concept of the sober living home goes back to around 1935, not long after the repeal of prohibition.
AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) is touted as the original free-standing sober home. This 12-step peer support group was created solely for the purpose of nurturing patients back to sobriety.
This system remained in place for decades, spreading in one form another to a variety of venues and institutions. California ended custodial care for alcoholics in state hospitals and local jails in the 1950s and 1960s, which left a void of services in its wake. This gave rise to the community-based social model approach to recovery.
California switched to a system of short-term treatment that paid little attention to housing. As you can imagine, these programs were not very successful. Because of California’s explosive urban development throughout the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, some urban development policies were destroyed. This also impacted the much-needed access to housing for those in recovery. Protections for recovering people’s rights to housing went into place little by little until 1992.
Eventually, both state and federal support for residential treatment facilities helped. This support spurred explosive growth in the number of these facilities from 1992 forward.
Today, with support from health insurance providers, state and federal programs, and competition among facilities, the situation has improved. In fact, some argue that it has never been easier to find a suitable facility.
When is it time to Check Into a Sober Living Home?
Generally, residents choose sober living homes after completing an in-patient program, especially if they need the help and support of professionals as they transition to the sober lifestyle.
The sober living environment helps individuals by providing an autonomous, but structured environment. Residents enjoy the support of program directors, counselors, sponsors and co-residents. This environment is highly effective at helping individuals prevent a relapse into addiction.
The length of time you’ll stay in a sober living community is contingent on many variables, including:
- The length of your addiction
- The severity of your addiction
- Your age
- Your home environment
- The extent of your support system
Most residents will stay in a sober living home for at least 90 days.
Due to the relatively affordable nature of sober living homes – they are much less expensive than residential rehab – stays of 12 to 18 months are commonplace.
What You Can Expect in a Sober Living House
Sober living environments can augment your recovery process. These sober communities make a great alternative to going directly from in-patient care straight back into an unstructured home environment. This environment is designed to replicate normal, everyday life while helping residents develop healthy habits, which helps reduce the chance of relapse.
Sober living homes prepare residents for their return to home life by helping them in a number of ways including:
- Guides them through the process of making amends with friends and family members affected by one’s substance abuse
- Finding employment
- Finding suitable housing after treatment
- Maintaining a sober living lifestyle in an unstructured environment
Inside a Sober Living Facility
While residents of sober living homes are free to come and go at will, they have rules they must follow. They must do chores and maintain a clean space. They must also remain sober throughout the duration of their stay. Residents must also continue to follow the curriculum and attend regular meetings and groups.
A house manager oversees all activities and ensures not only compliance with the rules but participation at every level of the program. Sober living homes are different from rehab centers in that they allow residents greater freedom of movement. There may be curfews by which residents must abide by and they must submit to random drug tests to ensure compliance.
Residents must demonstrate an ability to be responsible for themselves. Chores and maintaining a clean, safe living space are part of that. In many sober living homes, residents pay rent, buy their own groceries, cook for themselves, and do their own laundry. The establishment of these routines helps foster independence, self-reliance, and responsibility.
Residents agree to these rules and sign a contract ensuring their commitment to compliance. Penalties for violations vary from home to home, but might include fines, make amends to other residents, or be assigned other duties.
Additional rules include the prohibition of any type of alcohol in the home, including cooking ingredients, mouthwash, and even certain brands of vanilla. Residents must also agree to stay in or return to school or continue working.
Sober Living Environment
A typical day in a sober environment is structured to resemble a normal residential environment. Residents wake up at a time appropriate to meet their work/school/program obligations, make breakfast for themselves, complete their chores then go off to school, work, or program meetings.
The afternoons and evenings vary from resident to resident depending on their commitments and their group schedules. It’s also common for residents to participate in any number of recreational activities. These range from video games indoors to sports, hiking, basketball, barbecuing, or any number of outdoor activities.
The goal is to foster the concept of working towards goals and interacting with a group of similarly-minded individuals who help provide positive reinforcement for a collaborative and constructive lifestyle.
Evenings are generally unstructured in that residents are free to enjoy recreational activities, study, work at their job or socialize. Curfews ensure that residents are held accountable.
At The District Recovery Community, homes are segregated in such a way that residents are grouped within an appropriate age bracket. The prevailing thought being that men in their 20s and 30s prefer one lifestyle vs. men 40 and up. While the activities might vary some, the same concepts apply.
While house rules will vary, you can expect most sober living homes to expect the following:
- No alcohol
- No drugs
- Smoking only in designated areas
- Be actively engaged in recovery
- Pay all fees on time
- Refrain from sexual contact with residents
- Respect house property
Some sober living homes operate a zero-tolerance policy regarding these rules, while in other communities you may find more leeway.
Do Sober Living Homes Work?
The study showed that participants showed significant improvements in both primary and secondary outcomes after completing a long-term stay. The data showed improvements in employment, psychiatric symptoms and arrests.
The data also showed that residents had greater success if they stayed at least 6-12 months. 68% of residents remained abstinent 18 months after they left.
What was especially interesting is that 42% of people who enter a sober living had some form of arrest within the six months prior to entering a sober living environment but this figure dropped to 22% after 12 months in sober living.
While these facilities provide a high level of autonomy for residents, the carefully structured curriculum of activities, living rules and support groups foster personal growth so long as residents stay committed to recovery. The environment fosters sobriety through careful monitoring, random drug/alcohol testing, intensive group therapy, personal goal establishment and accountability. The support system in a sober living environment is further enhanced through peer-to-peer participation.
The District’s Sober Living Homes Near You
TDRC is unique in that many of our southern California sober living homes are in close proximity to the beach or centers of activity. We provide bicycles, barbecues, big-screen TVs, video game consoles, and other amenities to help our residents occupy their time and live a healthy lifestyle. This is all part of our adventure therapy initiative. These sober living homes provide a very different environment and a much-needed change of scenery for most of our residents. The nearly year-round sunshine helps foster a positive attitude and encourages activity.
Of course, most activities are group activities. Outdoor team sports are a perennial favorite, but so is the occasional fishing expedition or snowboard trip. The activities are largely influenced by the resident preferences. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, a sober living environment will significantly increase the probability of success. The sober living environment helps individuals remain sober and abstinent by holding them accountable, providing support, and maintaining a safe and stable living environment as they prepare for independence.
The slow transition back into school, work and society help them adjust and handle life’s day-to-day challenges with the safety net of close support groups and peers. It also helps individuals restore their pride, self-respect, and dignity through the achievement of milestones that are celebrated along their journey.
Sober living homes aren’t necessarily the best first step in recovery, as most addicts will want to go through a detox/rehab program prior to choosing a sober living home. Detox/rehab facilities are in-patient facilities and help monitor their patient’s safe detoxification process. Once complete, individuals should look for ongoing treatment and support, such as the sober living home. Sober living homes give individuals the best chance for success. They provide a safe place to help individuals to transition from bad habits into good habits. Pride, dignity, self-reliance are by-products of sober home living.
It’s not uncommon for residents to develop long-term, meaningful friendships with their co-residents which has the side benefit of expanding the individual’s support system. Collectively, the advantages offered by sober living homes are important to consider and provide significantly better chances of long-term sobriety.
Make a good life yours with The District Recovery Community. To kickstart your recovery, call the friendly admissions team at 844.287.8506.