Sober Living Homes and Halfway Houses
For many addicts who complete inpatient drug treatment, the transition from the safe and empowering environment of treatment to the hustle and bustle of daily life can be filled with worry and stress. Being thrust back into their old lives and friends can trigger the cravings and temptations that can lead to relapse. In order to minimize risk of relapse, there are aftercare options that are available that allow the newly recovering addict or alcoholic to gradually ease back into their normal day-to-day routines while still getting the encouragement and support they need from their recovery community. One of these aftercare options are sober living homes.
What are Sober Living Homes?
Sober living homes are alcohol and drug-free environments for those who have completed intensive inpatient treatment and are looking to transition back into their normal lives and day-to-day routines. Also known as halfway homes, people that choose to live in sober living environments are able to can stay there as long as needed and will usually pay resident fees for upkeep and maintenance of the facility. While most sober living houses are privately owned and will bill directly for services, there are some facilities that do accept insurance payments or even Medicaid.
How Does the Structure of Sober Living Help Someone Who Is In Recovery?
Sober living homes are structured to be a supplement to the total recovery process. These living environments have less supervision by treatment staff when compared to intensive inpatient treatment, but those who staff these living facilities are have significant recovery time and may be employed by the health care facility or private organization that runs them. The people that live in these sober living environments, as stated earlier, are in various stages of recovery and by design there is more consistent peer interaction and support which can help everyone’s recovery and all who reside in these types of facilities are held accountable.
Residents who live in these halfway houses are strongly encouraged to avoid friends and family that may encourage them to use alcohol and drugs, particularly individuals with whom they have used drugs in their past. Additionally, residents are usually required or strongly encouraged to attend meetings and actively work a 12-step recovery program. In some instances there are 12-step meetings that are available to residents at the halfway house itself.
What to Expect When Entering a Sober Living Home
For those who enter into a sober living home to continue working their program of recovery, they are expected to be proactive in working that program and being more independent. While sober living homes do allow the recovering addict the space they need to start formulating their new sober lifestyles, this type of living situation is not for individuals who sit idly and “wait out their time”. With peer encouragement and support, those who live in sober living houses are able to do the following:
- Organize a job search: Looking for employment will be easier for a person in recovery knowing that a support system is in place. There is scheduled time during the day for individuals to search for employment, including interviews and pre-employment drug screenings.
- Adjust to sobriety: While housed in a residential inpatient program, a patient often has very few liberties. On the other hand, if an individual is back at home, the prospect of making responsible decisions can be difficult for them to handle. A sober house program will have rules to follow, but these rules always have an emphasis on the eventual transition back to independence.
- Arrange housing: Many residents come to their sober-living communities without any other homes to speak of. Time spent in a halfway house can be put to an apartment search with lots of feedback from other residents and the staff regarding what to look out for.
- Mend fences: An important step in the recovery process is to make amends to those who have been affected by the addict’s actions. The support one finds in the community of fellow addicts in a sober living house will help guide the resident through the process of rebuilding relationships.
What Other Rules and Regulations Govern Sober Living Environments?
Those who live in sober living homes do have to abide by some basic house rules. For example, residents must keep common areas clean and perform duties such as throwing out the trash and making dinner and attending weekly house meetings. There are also basic rules that outline a resident’s commitment to personal responsibility and accountability. At sober living facilities, it is usually expected that residents come home by a certain time each night and get out of bed by a certain time each morning. If a resident is leaving the house, they generally need to sign in and out and let fellow residents and staff know where they are going.
The main rule of living in a halfway house is that under no circumstance is the use of drugs and alcohol tolerated while living in the home. In most situations, residents who are caught using substances in the house itself or outside the home are evicted and are not allowed to return. Drug use and relapse behavior not only impact the addict who is using substances, but it can significantly impact the safety and recovery of both residents and staff.