There are a number of different options in addiction treatment – from detoxification to aftercare – and depending upon your addiction and treatment history, your present needs, and your goals for the future, different levels of care may be more or less appropriate.
Sober living is an excellent option for people in recovery who have a solid foundation based on medical and psychotherapeutic care as well as a rough idea of the direction they would like to head next in recovery. It is not, however, a treatment for addiction – but it’s also not a forever solution to housing post-rehab, either. Is a sober living program the right choice for you?
What Is Sober Living?
Different types of sober living homes offer different levels of support in recovery. Some offer intensive support with rigid requirements for all residents; others are less intensive in their support levels, offering only the guarantee that other residents will remain clean and sober and that there will be no drugs and alcohol on the premises.
Different levels of support and care may be desirable at different stages of recovery. For example, if you have been in residence at an inpatient addiction treatment program for a year and would like to continue the high level of support but would like to be able to work toward moving out on your own, then a sober living home that offers outpatient treatment or in-home therapy and support may be your first choice with the option to decrease your number of therapy sessions each week as needed.
On the other hand, if you are just in need of a home that is safe and guaranteed to be sober while you work on finding a job to support you and a new home that will be equally drug-free, then a less regimented sober living home may be better suited to your needs.
Questions to Ask About Sober Living
It is important that you thoroughly look into your sober living options and ask questions before choosing the right one for you – or determining whether or not the option is right for you. For example, you might ask:
- Do you have on-site staff 24 hours a day?
- How many other residents stay in the house at any one time?
- Are there requirements to attend a certain number of 12-step meetings or therapy sessions, or to remain actively engaged with any level of addiction or mental health treatment?
- Are 12-step meetings or therapy sessions of any kind offered in the sober living home?
- Are house meetings offered and/or mandatory?
- Are house chores required of each resident?
- What is the process for dealing with any conflicts between residents or requests that residents may have?
- Are drug tests mandatory?
- What are the rules for visitors? May my family members/friends stay over?
- Is it mandatory to get or have a job, go to school, or move closer to independent living?
- How long is the average stay for residents at this sober living home?
- What is the process for determining when it’s time to move on?
- What support is available to residents after they move out of the house?
Recommended Length of Stay
Like everything about recovery, the length of time that you spend in a sober living program should be determined by your own personal needs. There is no standard that will guarantee you success in recovery. The amount of time you spend in a sober living program should be determined by:
- Your stability in recovery: Your first priority is your ability to stay sober, and in order to do that, you need to be solid in your recovery. This means that you are making progress in your mental health treatment, practicing your coping skills effectively, and have no urge to relapse. It also means that you have a strong support system in recovery and a regimen of treatment and therapeutic options that make you feel safe and help you to make positive choices each day.
- Your level of safety in a new home: Before you can move out of a sober living home, you need to have a new home to go to, and that home must be sober and safe as well. It’s not always possible or ideal to return to the home you lived in prior to going into treatment, so finding a new home with sober roommates or a small place that you can afford in a safe neighborhood may be your best option.
- Your ability to support yourself: If you move into a new home, you will need to be able to not only pay the rent and utilities, but you will also need to be able to manage a budget that ensures you have enough incoming cash to cover the outgoing bills without getting into financial trouble. Financial stress is often related to drug and alcohol use so choosing a living situation that allows you to live well below your means is ideal.
- Your comfort level: You could have a great job, a solid place to live, and be making solid progress in recovery but if you just don’t yet feel comfortable moving out of the sober living home and out on your own, then the time isn’t right. This is not the stage of recovery where you should rush yourself or make any big changes without thinking things through and planning out the details.