What Is Sober Living?

by | Oct 7, 2021 | Addiction | 0 comments

It can be difficult to navigate everyday life when newly sober. For many people in recovery from drugs and alcohol, a good next step after becoming sober is to live in a sober home. These living environments are specifically for someone in recovery. They offer anyone with a substance abuse problem space between rehab and living on their own.

Navigating everyday life when newly sober isn’t easy. A sober living home gives a person in early recovery a highly structured environment to help them on their path toward long-term sobriety. Many people find it challenging after leaving rehab to immediately return to their normal lives. Sober living homes offer an alternative.

The Origins of Sober Living

During the 1960s and 1970s, the idea that a person’s living environment played a significant role in their sobriety became popular. The result was the growth in what was then referred to as halfway houses. These living spaces provided a situation that removed the newly sober individual from their previously challenging living environment as they learned to live without drugs or alcohol. A number of studies indicated that halfway houses were helpful in terms of helping people with substance abuse.

There were limitations, however. Halfway houses were only to be used for a short period of time, meaning residents had to leave even if they didn’t feel ready sometimes. Many halfway houses were often partially or completely dependent on government funds, leaving them vulnerable to changes in government spending. Finally, halfway houses often required residents to be engaged in some form of formal treatment, something not all residents wanted or needed.

How Sober Living Houses Are Different from Halfway Houses

Unlike the halfway houses of the 20th century, sober living homes have been structured to avoid many of the issues mentioned above. Most focus on five overarching rules:

  1. A sober living home must be an alcohol and drug-free living environment for anyone attempting to abstain from substances.
  2. While sober living homes don’t typically mandate any formal treatment services, they strongly encourage residents to attend a 12-step self-help group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) during their stay.
  3. Residents in a sober living house must live by the house’s rules, including maintaining abstinence, paying rent and other fees, participating in house chores, and attending house meetings.
  4. All sober living residents must share in the responsibility of rent and other costs of living for the house.
  5. Sober living residents are allowed to stay in the house as long as they wish if they continue to live by the house’s rules.

What You Need to Know About Sober Living Homes

Today, sober living homes can be run by a business, a religious group, or by private individuals. They vary in type, but all operate under the premise of offering a substance-free space for people in recovery. Typically there is either a house manager that enforces the rules or the home runs under a social model where residents share in the decision-making for the home.

Sober living homes offer a looser structure than a residential treatment program. This allows residents to come and go as they please so they can maintain their jobs and other obligations. However, residents must adhere to all the house rules, even when they are away from the house, or they will forfeit their place in the sober living home.

For this reason, anyone interested in residing in a sober home must be committed to their own recovery. If someone is not fully focused on living a sober life or does not want to be in a sober environment, their presence could prove detrimental to the other residents.

Making the Most of a Sober Living Home

Anyone who is interested in the benefits a sober home offers should have a plan to help them learn to live sober long-term. This plan can include steps such as:

  • Attending a peer support group at least twice a week
  • Finding a sponsor and maintaining regular contact with that person
  • Eating regular healthy meals to help the body function
  • Exercising at least three times a week to help reduce compulsive behaviors

These living spaces also offer the newly sober individual the benefit of time to ease their transition back into independent living. It can be difficult to move directly from rehab back to the bustle of work and family commitments. A sober home provides a safe place to get a feel for what sober life will be like for them away from all of the pressures of everyday life.

A sober living home is a stable living space for someone in recovery from drugs or alcohol. This is especially beneficial for anyone whose previous home environment was dysfunctional, as that has been shown to hinder efforts to stay sober. Sober living can help reduce the risk of relapse because residents have no access to drugs or alcohol. Additionally, sober homes provide peer support which can be extremely beneficial to someone in recovery so that they feel understood and seen.

If you’re ready to take the next step in your recovery, consider attending an outpatient program while living in a sober home. This can help you continue your recovery in a supportive environment while living in a substance-free home. At Bridges of Hope, we can help connect you to an appropriate sober living community and our outpatient treatment program, all conveniently located here in Indiana.