What Is Sober Living?

December 30, 2021

Sober living programs give sober addicts/alcoholics a safe place to live where they are held accountable.

They are usually in place for addicts/alcoholics who are transitioning from an inpatient facility back into the real world. Many inpatient programs last from 30 to 90 days.

Many addicts relapse within a matter of weeks after getting out of inpatient treatment. The same stresses of life are waiting for them when they leave rehab and in some cases, they are worse.

You increase your chance of achieving long-term sobriety considerably when you go to sober living right out of rehab.

However, you don’t have to be newly sober to take advantage of sober living. Perhaps you’ve been sober for one year but feel yourself slacking on your recovery program. Sober living can help get you back on track.

However, it’s important to note that not all sober living environments are healthy. They can be poorly run and in some cases, there may be people living there that are actively using drugs (including alcohol). There are also sober living programs that just want your money.

There are different types of sober living programs that have varying degrees of accountability. It’s important to know which one might be the best option for you.

In this article, you’ll read about what sober living is, the different types of sober living programs, and why they are helpful to a person’s recovery from addiction.

What Sober Living Programs Are and How They Work

Sober living programs are built around sober living housing. This can be a house, a group of houses, a duplex, an entire apartment complex, etc. The one rule among all sober homes is that you must be sober to live there.

After inpatient treatment, sober living is a logical next step for anyone who’s serious about staying sober. There is usually an interview process for potential new members of the house.

If you are trying to get into a sober living home, topics/questions of the interview may consist of:

Sober living programs have the goal of getting you to a place of independence after you’ve proved to yourself and others around you that your sobriety is stable.

A sober living program is probably a good idea if you want:

Are Sober Living Programs and Halfway Houses the Same Thing? 

They are not exactly the same. You do however have to be sober to live in either.

Here are some general observations about many sober homes and halfway houses. This is by no means a complete representation of how they all are. 

Sober houses - You can live at a sober house even though you’ve never been to rehab. Most Sober living programs will let you live there as long as you want as long as you pay your rent on time and remain sober.

Halfway houses - At a halfway house you’ll need to have completed some form of rehabilitation or currently be active in one. Many halfway houses house people who have just gotten out of jail or prison. This way parole and probation officers can keep an eye on them and make sure they are staying out of trouble.

Depending on the offense, a sober living home may not let you live there for a criminal offense. 

Neither one of these is inpatient treatment. 

Sober Living Expectations

A sober house is a structured environment, so if you don’t want to follow any rules then it’s probably not the place for you. You should be completely detoxed before you start living there. 

Once you are there, develop a routine and stick to it. Commit to a certain amount of recovery meetings each week. Schedule specific times for you to meet with your sponsor/mentor to do recovery work. 

When you get out of inpatient treatment, life can start moving very quickly. It’s easy to let your recovery go to the wayside. Sober living can help that not to happen. You’ll have a place where you are expected to do things that will keep sobriety a priority in your life.

There are household duties that must be fulfilled. One month you might have kitchen duty while another resident has bathroom duty. Next month, you may switch. Not tending to your household duties can have consequences and could even get you discharged from the program.

Rent needs to be paid on time. You may have a little bit of leeway here and there depending on the sober house, but don’t count on it. You may not have any money when you come out of inpatient treatment, which is not unusual.

Many programs will help you with your first couple weeks’ rent. During those first 2 weeks, if you don’t have a job, you’ll be expected to get one.

Aside from any recovery meetings you attend each week, you will have scheduled house meetings. Attendance at these is expected. If you have a house meeting every Tuesday night, you’ll be expected to let your job know that you can’t work Tuesday evenings. 

House meetings consist of checking in with everyone to see how their recovery is going. Any issues with rent are usually discussed and it may be a time where you interview possible new residents.

You can expect to have a curfew for the first 30 days or so. Restrictions will be less as you show that your recovery is stable. Sober living programs usually want you to stay at least 90 days. Some may even require that you commit to 90 days before they will admit you to their program.

Random drug screens are another common requirement for sober living programs. Many times they will take place when residents return home from an evening recovery meeting. This ensures the overall safety of the house.

If you are coming home under the influence of drugs and alcohol it can be very triggering for some people and make it more likely for them to relapse. If you fail a random drug screen you could be asked to leave immediately. You might get 30 minutes to quickly grab a few items and leave the property. 

Some places will let you come back if you’ve been sober for a couple of weeks. However, for those couple of weeks, it’s on you to have somewhere to live.

Aside from having to take drug tests, any guests you invite over may need to take one as well. 

Some programs will allow overnight guests if you’ve been there for a while and are taking care of all your duties. This is usually only allowed at peer-run sober living houses.

Levels of Support

Peer-run: This type of home consists of residents only meaning there is no paid staff that works at the house. A company owns the house, but the tenants are responsible for rent and enforcing all of the rules. Members that have lived there the longest are usually the ones who do most of the enforcing. They give the drug tests but also participate in them as well.

Staff - monitored: This type of home has staff that is paid to monitor the residents. This will include a paid house manager who actually has a room at the house.

These houses may include:

At this level, you may be required to have an individual counselor that you see on a  regular basis.

Staff-run: This a step up from staff-monitored as the staff at these types of homes are going to be more hands on. The staff is usually certified in the addiction field. At this level, it is very likely that group therapy is required and happens in-house.

Service Provider: This level might have many different aspects such as:

These programs are going to be the most expensive ones you find.

Sober Living Skills

A good sober living program will help you develop important life skills that can help you maintain long-term sobriety.

Sharing a house with others: In active addiction, you become very isolated from the world around you. Maybe using drugs started off as fun, but as your disease progressed you may have found yourself feeling hopeless and alone. 

You may have lived with other people like family members during your active addiction. This can be a very stressful situation.

Here are some things that many addicts do when they are living with family members:

This selfish attitude will not be tolerated at sober living programs. Living in a house with other sober people can teach you to be a responsible member of the house. When conflict arises, you’ll get a chance to apply your recovery tools instead of lashing out emotionally.

Money Management - Addicts are usually not the best with money. When you were using drugs, the majority of your paychecks probably went toward getting high. Then whatever was left over could be used for food, bills, etc. This may have been as far as your money management went.

Sober living programs can help you with budgeting. You and the other residents can help each other with this and hold each other accountable. This will help you achieve your long-term goal of eventually moving out of sober living and being completely independent. 

Time Management - In active addiction, addicts spend the majority of their time getting high and finding out ways to keep getting high. Now that you’re sober, it may be overwhelming to think about how you will fill up your time.

Perhaps you feel so much better sober that you end up committing to things you don’t have time for. 

Sober living will help you structure your day. Time management can help you schedule things such as:

Life Purpose - recovery is more than just meetings, talking with your sponsor, and working the 12 steps. It’s about finding what you’re passionate about so you can create a life that’s filled with purpose and deep meaning.

It’s usually at the “service provider” level programs that you will get the most assistance in this area.

Is Sober Living for You?

The fact is many addicts relapse once they get out of inpatient treatment. If you’ve been to multiple treatment centers and can’t stay sober for any considerable amount of time, then sober living might be for you.

If you find yourself constantly getting into unhealthy relationships in rehab or right after you get out of rehab, then sober living might be for you. It can help you focus on yourself.

If every time you get sober you become a workaholic, sober living might be for you.

The point is that sober living is great for people who have made several attempts at getting and staying sober. However, it’s also highly recommended if this is your first attempt at sobriety. 

Things that can help you the most in your early sobriety include:

The more of these things you do, the more likely you are to achieve long-lasting sobriety.

IOP at ASIC Recovery

Have you reached one year sober and found that you need some help? Are you looking for substance abuse treatment in Texas? 

At ASIC Recovery, our Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is dedicated to helping individuals develop healthier coping skills and build a recovery supportive network in all aspects.

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