When someone enters a residential treatment program for addiction, she counts the days until she can be reunited with her family and return home. It can be difficult to even think about staying away for 60 days or even 90 days, especially for people who have small children or family members who need care. However, as the treatment program progresses she may view the approaching date of release with alarm.
While someone may truly want to go home again, she may not be ready to return to her old environments yet. After treatment, sobriety is new and fragile. Going back home might feel like going back to addiction. Sober living facilities provide a bridge between treatment and home.
Sober Living Structure
Sober living communities are similar to halfway houses. Both are designed to help people transition from a controlled environment to one that is free of almost all rules. Both use a form of positive peer pressure to help residents internalize the important lessons they need to understand to succeed in an unrestricted environment.
Sober living communities are often owned by large companies that buy the land and set up the specific rules and regulations that will govern the behavior of the residents. These communities then operate on a tiered system, where people who have lived in the community for the longest period of time enforce the rules and those new to the community have the least amount of rights.
While the communities may not rely on the help of licensed therapists or medical professionals, this shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that the communities have no rules or a lax structure. In fact, sober living communities are highly regulated, with a long list of rules that residents must follow. Residents must affirm that they will maintain their sobriety or face expulsion. Residents must participate in addiction treatment by attending counseling sessions and participating in support group meetings. Some sober living communities also hold in-house support group meetings for all residents.
A New Kind of Life
Sober living communities do more than encourage addiction treatment and sobriety. The rules are designed to help people create structure in their lives and meet the day-to-day expectations that society places upon them. Most sober living communities require residents to hold some sort of job in the community. If residents cannot find work, they’re expected to do volunteer duties in the community, or pick up extra tasks around the home. These requirements help fill the time the residents might have formerly used on drugs, but they also help residents learn to structure their days around work and meaningful activities. Sober living facilities often require residents to handle cleaning and cooking tasks in addition to their employment. These tasks can help residents develop skills they’ll need when they live on their own.
In most cases, as long as residents comply with the rules, they are allowed to stay as long as they’d like. It’s not uncommon for people to live in sober living communities for months or even for years.
Sober Living Benefits
Participation in sober living communities can help residents learn to identify their feelings and express their opinions in productive and healthy ways. Living with others on the road to recovery can also help community members learn to manage strong emotions rather than act on them because they are developing a stronger sense of ethics and how to treat others. Household and community responsibilities also help residents learn to be socially responsible and put the needs of others before their own. Sometimes, people who live in sober communities develop tight friendships and strong bonds with others in the community. Residents learn to support one another, listen to one another and lean upon one another. These are the sorts of activities that healthy families do regularly, and it’s no surprise that some people in sober living communities form families of their own.
Sober communities often have admission requirements, including:
- A specific number of days of sobriety
- A financial commitment, perhaps including a deposit
- A signed statement from the addict’s therapist, outlining ongoing treatments
- Proof of employment
Some facilities will waive these requirements depending on the needs of the person in therapy, but other facilities will not. These are questions and details best answered long before the addict moves into the facility.
At Michael’s House, we provide a residential sober living facility for people who have completed rehab programs. Our rules and regulations are straightforward, and we’d love to talk with you about our admissions program. Please contact us today at 760-548-4032 to get the process started.
 National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction,” July 2016. Accessed May 1, 2017. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction