When in recovery, choosing a safe living environment is very important. Sober living homes are one option that allows you to recover in a safe place with others in similar situations. They help you to transition back into the community after intensive inpatient services and to learn to live independently without the use of drugs and/or alcohol.
What is a Sober Living Home?
Sober living homes are group homes that are free of alcohol and drugs for individuals in recovery. They operate like a co-op, where you pay the costs and maintain the home by contributing to the upkeep of the house through rent and chores.
There are all types of sober living homes. Some are owned by businesses or religious groups, but the majority of homes are run privately, most often by groups of sober people who form an informal agreement to have a sober living arrangement. These privately run homes allow you to invest in your own recovery.
Each sober living home operates differently. Some have a resident manager that oversees and enforces the house rules, while other homes have a social model approach in which each resident has decision-making power. Everyone has to follow house rules in order to stay in the home, regardless of management style.
How Are Sober Living Homes Different to Other Residential Programs?
Sober living homes are different than other residential programs, such as residential treatment centers, in that they are more loosely structured to facilitate employment and other outside obligations. Random drug testing may be required in some homes.
As a resident, you are free to come and go as necessary for work, family, business, or leisure activity as long as you adhere to the house rules. You are independent and responsible for your own recovery and well-being. If someone in the house is not committed and/or he or she is not ready for recovery, it can hinder the recovery process for the entire house; that is why most homes require that you have already completed a treatment program and/or detox.
In addition, many homes will require you to agree to sign a contract stating your commitment to recovery. This is all to safeguard the recovery process for everyone else in the home.
How Do Sober Living Homes Help?
Having a stable living environment is important for everyone’s well-being. It is especially important if you’re in recovery. Studies have shown that dysfunctional home environments can derail recovery efforts and even contribute to alcohol or drug abuse. A sober living home is one form of a safe living arrangement that lends itself to the recovery of all residents.
You will be strongly encouraged and supported by fellow residents to attend treatment outside of the home through outpatient treatment options and/or a 12-step program. Sober living only works if you actually want to be there and are committed to your recovery. To be surrounded by caring people on the same path, to share meals, and to have someone to talk to and go to meetings with can be the make-it-or-break-it factor in whether or not you stay sober.
Who Can Live in a Sober Living Home?
Most sober living homes do not restrict who lives in them; however, many do require that you’ve gone through some level of rehab prior to living in the home. Additionally, many group homes require you to continue to seek treatment or to participate in a 12-step program in order to live there.
As a resident, it is important that you are committed to living in the home and to your own recovery. This responsibility of one’s own recovery is crucial to the recovery process.
How Much Do They Cost?
The cost of living in a sober living home can vary based on location; however, the rates are typically similar to those of moderately priced rental apartments. In many homes, you will not be required to pay for utility costs; however, conscientious use of utilities, such as electricity and water, will be expected, and you can be reprimanded if you overuse utilities.
Overall, it is a cheaper alternative to residential treatment centers where treatment services are provided.
As with all recovery options, there is no one-size-fits-all. Sober living homes are not for everybody. They offer a supportive option for individuals as they work through recovery and towards drug-free independence. It is important to discuss your recovery options with your healthcare provider to determine the best option for you and your needs.
Polcin, D. L., Korcha, R., Bond, J., & Galloway, G. (2010). What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go from Here? Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. 42(4), 425–433.