Even for the most highly motivated individuals, a destructive living environment can derail recovery.This is why “sober living houses” (SLHs) were started. They are substance-free homes for people working on healthy lifestyle routines. Sober living offers a positive, clean setting for those who have a substance use disorder so they can regain their footing and prepare for reentry back into the “real world.”
In these special facilities, individuals with a similar history of substance abuse share household responsibilities and hold each other accountable for their actions. This includes helping each other stay accountable and sober. Sober Living Homes offer residential treatment. They offer communal living. Ultimately, they offer a home for recovery.
Heather H. stayed in a sober living house for seven months after completing 90 days in residential treatment: “I had to change everything in my life. Before I got sober, I was constantly living in chaos: my bills were chaotic. My car was a mess. My house was a mess. Today I take very good care of my personal space and surroundings, and I enjoy keeping things orderly…. Messy space, messy head. Clean space, clean head. Finally, I’m very present with the people around me. As long as I can remember, I was wanting to numb myself. [Today] I simply enjoy sitting with myself.”—Heather H., HeroesInRecovery.com
SLHs and the Unique Needs, Concerns of Women
Just as women have different issues and needs than men, the same is true when it comes to recovery. To be effective, these SLHs must be structured specifically with women in mind.
While sober living houses certainly differ, one from another, nearly all of them share these traits:
- Safe setting – Sober living homes for women are totally substance-free. With this zero tolerance, there is less temptation to relapse back into use of alcohol or other drugs.
- Shared duties – One of the most critical components of a sober living home for women is shared household chores. Performing assigned day-to-day duties offers the chance to take “baby steps” on the journey toward successful independent living.
- House rules – Sober living homes are only as safe and effective as their rules and regulations. There is a stringent code of conduct. Visitors are welcome only during certain hours. No illicit substances are allowed. Chores need to be done on schedule. It’s truly an “all for one and one for all” pact.1
Why is it so important to have SLHs for women only? For starters, women feelmore comfortable and safer in aSLH for women only. In addition, many sober living houses for women allow girls to stay there with their mother.2
The Cost of SLHs
The cost to live in a sober living home varies state to state. In general, SLHs cost about as much as the average cost of renting a room — anywhere from $300 to $2000/month, depending on the geographical location. As a rule, they are quite affordable. It is expected that residents are in-between jobs or trying to restart their careers. Many houses assist women in finding work to cover the costs of residency, with the intent is that these women and their loved ones not be financially overburdened.3
How Are SLHs Different than Halfway Houses?
Whether geared toward women or men, there are some nuances that make SLHs quite different than halfway houses.
First, there is typically a limit on how long residents can stay at halfway houses. After a few months, residents are required to move out, whether or not they feel ready for independent living.
A second issue is financing the houses. Government funding is often a major part of halfway houses. This leaves these facilities vulnerable to funding cuts and elimination of resources. SLHs are financially sustained through resident fees and individuals can typically stay as long as they wish.2
Halfway houses require residents to have completed or be involved in some type of formal treatment. Since SLHs do not offer formal treatment services, they are not monitored by state licensing agencies. SLHs offer peer support for recovery outside the context of “clinical therapy.” Consistent with the principles of social model recovery, residents are empowered through participation in a “Resident Congress.”3
Central to recovery in SLHs is not only the social support network, but also involvement in 12-Step mutual help groups. Residents are encouraged to attend meetings and actively work through a 12-Step program (e.g., obtain a sponsor, practice the 12 steps, volunteer for service positions). Over time, “giving back” to the recovery community (consistent with the 12-Step principles) reinforces residents’ commitment to the recovery process. 3
“Real Healing” Can Begin at Michael’s House
SLHs are an underutilized service. They can provide a clean and sober living space to those who have gone through detox and rehab treatment. Regardless of whether the journey begins in a residential or outpatient treatment program, SLHs have a good record of meeting patients’ aftercare needs.4
Until you need aftercare, Michael’s House is here for you. A residential rehab facility with a broad menu of services, we treat mental issues as well as alcohol and drug addictions. Furthermore, we understand the special needs of women – what can bring on addictive habits and what can stop them.
1 Polcin, Douglas L. “A Model for Sober Housing during Outpatient Treatment.” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. U.S. National Library of Medicine. June 2008. Web. Accessed 14 July 2017.
2 Polcin, Douglas L. “Motivation to Maintain Sobriety Among Residents of Sober Living Recovery Homes.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. 11 September 2015. Web. Accessed 14 July 2017.
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