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The Ultimate Guide To Sober Living

According to NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse), over 20 million Americans aged 12 and above suffer from one type of addiction or the other. The same report found that fatalities from drug and alcohol overdose have tripled over the past 20 years - an average score of about 100 overdose deaths a day. These statistics show the importance of taking steps towards overcoming addiction and receiving the help you require.

One of the facets of full treatment and rehabilitation from drug abuse and alcoholism involves sober living, which is often provided at dedicated facilities, or sober living homes.

These facilities will provide you with access to a highly trained and experienced team, which also making allowances for a certain level of (responsible) freedom. As such, it might end up making a world of difference to anyone struggling with alcohol and drug addiction.

NIDA further reports that 40-60% of former addicts tend to relapse back to their old habits in time. However, this is not an indication that addiction treatment and rehabilitation programs are not effective. This is because some addicts only relapse once before striving for and achieving long term sobriety after that single instance of use.

Rather, relapse is an indication that addiction and substance use disorders might prove to be deeply challenging, and difficult for some individuals to overcome. If you need some extra help during your rehabilitation, therefore, you might want to consider checking into a sober living facility.

That said, learning how to lead a life of sobriety will often require that you commit the rest of your life to a journey that often takes a day at a time. After you've completed your addiction treatment, the natural step towards full recovery is the daily implementation of the coping strategies you were taught during rehabilitation.

This task, as you might already be aware, will be comparatively easier if you are aware of the potential triggers that can cause you to relapse to drug use and alcohol abuse. In most cases, you will even find that your triggers are more or the less the same, although they might evolve from new reasons and causes.

The important thing to keep in mind here is how you think, feel, and react. As long as you manage to diligently protect and safeguard your thoughts - as well as surround yourself with people who fully support your sobriety and recovery, then your new lifestyle might be easier to adapt to every situation that you come across or find yourself in.

As you approach the end of your rehabilitation journey, one of the recurrent concerns and biggest worries you might have may be about how you are going to manage to go from one day to the next once you are back in society.

The walls of the treatment center/facility will act as the protective fortress you need as you undergo rehabilitation - particularly if you check into a residential facility. As such, it may make you feel safer from your compulsions and urges to start using drugs and drinking alcohol again.

However, you might worry about what you are going to do once you check out of the inpatient treatment center and you encounter some of the old triggers that used to compel to you. In such a situation, sober living centers might be the ideal solution.

As long as you remember that recovery from substance use disorders and addictions is a lifelong process and you get the ongoing support you require, managing your life post-rehab should not be too hard. More particularly, you may even want to get a strong aftercare plan with the right support and planning so that you are better empowered to embrace your new life of sobriety with vigor.

However, you might also want to remember that making the transition from residential or inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation and treatment to sober living might prove to be both momentous and exciting. More particularly, such a move will signal a major change from a life of addiction to one of sobriety. As such, you should never take it lightly.

In the guide below, you will learn more about sober living, what it involves, where it is provided, and why it is such an essential component of the full recovery you are aspiring to. Read on to find out more:

Understanding Sober Living

So, what is sober living? At its most basic, sober living refers to the maintenance of a lifestyle free of drugs and alcohol that often requires that you renew your commitment to full abstinence and recovery on a daily basis. Although you might have a harder time maintaining your sobriety on some days, you should remember that each day you keep away from the drugs and alcohol that once plagued your life will be a step towards the right direction.

Today, there are numerous sober living homes all over the United States - facilities that serve as the crucial transitional element in your journey towards full recovery and rehabilitation.

After you exit from formal treatment at an inpatient facility, you might want to check into a sober living center - especially if you feel that you are not yet ready for life in ordinary society.

These homes act as independently-financed housing arrangements that cater to former addicts and alcoholics looking to remain abstinent and get clean in the post-rehab journey.

The homes tend to have less structure that you would find in a formalized treatment facility. However, sober living homes (as well as the residents within) are still required to follow some standard protocols and guidelines.

For instance, you will not be required to undergo formal treatment while in such a facility - since it is not offered in the first place. However, you may be strongly encouraged to start or continue attending such 12-step meetings as Alcoholics Anonymous or any other support group.

The thinking behind these rules is that every step you make will only serve to strengthen your willingness and resolve to stay sober and remain abstinent during the post-rehab and post-treatment duration.

Sober living homes can further be defined as residences that act as group homes for people recovering from a variety of substance use disorders and addictions. The facilities serve to provide stable and relaxing environments for their residents, while simultaneously support their ongoing attempts and efforts to maintain their sobriety.

These facilities, however, are somewhat different from rehabilitation centers and hospitals in the sense that the residents have some sort of leeway and freedom with their daily routine. However, there are still some restrictions for the sobriety and safety of everyone residing in the home.

Life In Sober Living Homes

At a sober living home, you will still be able to attend to your daily affairs and even go to work. Some of the facilities may even require that you work if only to ensure that you continue relearning essential learning life skills, and so that you are able to contribute towards the expenses and the rent (if any).

In the same way, the home may require that you take drug tests on a regular basis. These tests will serve to confirm your sobriety as you continue living at the facility. If the home finds any sign that you are not conforming to your rehabilitation program (or failing to stay clean), you may be evicted.

That said, sober living homes are designed to serve anyone who has undergone treatment for substance use disorder and is recovering from addiction. As mentioned above, when you check into such a facility, you will typically be expected to continue following certain rules and regulations while you are still a resident.

In the same way, you will get to benefit from convenient access to a wide assortment of trained and certified addiction recovery professionals - who may include staff therapists, counselors, and case managers to coordinate the treatment routines and programs. Some of the facilities even provide access to biofeedback specialists, spiritual counselors, psychotherapists, and psychologists.

That said, sober living isn't for everyone - although these facilities act as supportive places for individuals looking to make the transition from a life of addiction to drugs and alcohol to one of sobriety and life-long recovery.

While living in such an environment, you will get the opportunity to boost your odds of enjoying lasting recovery. However, you still need to remember that the sober living home is not a quick fix or a temporary solution to your substance use disorder.

To this end, you need to stay committed and continue taking the steps necessary for you to overcome your drug addiction and/or alcoholism. You should also remember that the process won't happen overnight.

As long as you are willing to make the required effort, however, the sober living facility may provide you with the level of support you require to achieve the meaningful results you are looking for.

Characteristics Of Sober Living Facilities

As we mentioned above in this guide, sober living facilities follow certain guidelines and rules. These are designed to ensure that residents get the opportunity to acclimate themselves to daily living without negative influences or the stress of triggers that might cause them to relapse back to substance abuse. You will also be expected to show responsibility and accountability, as well as continue serving as an active and involved member of the community of recovering addicts.

The Journal of Psychoactive Drug reports the following characteristics that most of these homes and facilities share:

So, what else should you expect from living sober? In general, most of these homes provide supportive communities that lean on each other and provide encouragement to ensure that all individual residents are able to maintain their sobriety.

Studies show that positive social networks are integral in predicting the outcomes of abstinence programs. Therefore, having a solid peer network of colleagues, family, and friends who discourage you from taking drugs or drinking may correlate to more positive improvements in sobriety and abstinence.

If you have such strong support systems, the chances are quite high that you may experience better outcomes in terms of abstinence a year or several after you complete rehabilitation and treatment for addiction and substance use disorders.

To this end, living in such a home means that you will be surrounded by other individuals who share similar goals as you - getting sober and remaining so. You will also find individuals from all social backgrounds and walks of life who have - at one point or the other - struggled with addiction. You may also find that they have stories similar to yours.

Most likely, you will meet people who have been at the same facility for a couple of months, a year, or who just entered a couple of hours before you did. Through such meetings, you will get the opportunity to form relationships with individuals who are like you - and even bond with them through your shared experiences.

Not only will you be able to learn something from these recovering addicts, but you can also allow them to learn from your own unique experience with drug and substance abuse and addiction.

This reciprocity is a common facet at most sober living homes that serves to encourage residents to forge positive reinforcing relationships that may end up lasting the entire duration of your lifetime. You might also discover that the friends you make during your stay will remain lifelong companions after you check out of the community.

Sober Living Duration

So, how long should you expect to remain in the sober living home? In most cases, you will find that these facilities do not have a set duration during which you are required to remain in residence.

However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends that you require a full 3 months (or 90 days) to develop the new and healthy habits that will prepare you for daily life outside the structured and sobriety focused environment provided in such a home. In general, therefore, most of these facilities will allow you to stay as long as it takes for you to feel comfortable enough to transition back to your normal daily routine.

On average, the period of time you may end up spending at a sober living home will typically range from 3 to 6 months. Whereas some people will do well with short stays of about 3 months, others will only experience better results after a year or so in residence.

Studies, however, have suggested that the longer you stay, the greater your odds of enjoying long term recovery and sobriety after you leave the sober living environment. Therefore, although there is no set minimum for how long you will remain at the facility, you should continue focusing on dealing with your recovery as opposed to counting the minutes, hours, or days.

You should also try not to compare yourself with other residents or any other distraction that might interfere with your focus on the primary goal of attaining full and lasting recovery and sobriety.

Financial Considerations For Sober Living

In most cases, you will find that the cost of sober living may be less than the average cost of renting an apartment or flat in most areas. Where possible, however, you should never choose a facility based on the cost - or leave one because it is too expensive.

Where cost is a primary concern, therefore, it would be in your best interests to bring it up during your initial meeting. You should also plan ahead and look at such things as your potential for employment, your money management skills and abilities, as well as the possibility of creating a budget to ensure that cost does not become an obstacle to your full recovery.

The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs recently published a study noting that most of the residents in 2 sober living homes that were involved in the study were able to maintain their abstinence.

The implication from this study is that living in such an environment - irrespective of the duration of your stay - will benefit you and ensure you remain clean. This is because the focus should be on the achievement of positive results instead of on the costs or on the duration.

What To Expect From Sober Living

As mentioned above, all sober living facilities have sets of rules that every resident is expected to follow if they are to continue staying in the home. The purpose of these rules is to protect the personnel working at the facility as well as the other residents. This is because the environments are designed as safe places for everyone involved.

To this end, you will be informed about the house rules - or they may be provided to you in writing. Remember, there are no negotiations with the sober living rules. That said, some of the things you should expect from most of these homes include the following:


1. Have Fun

The sober living home will ask that you allow yourself some leeway for fun. This is because living in such an environment should not be seen as punishment. To this end, there will be times when you will get to watch movies with the rest of the group, watch TV, and go out into the community for shopping and to run errands, as well as participate in such enjoyable activities as trips to the sea/beach or even gardening.

2. Mind Your Health

You will also be expected to stay mindful of your overall health and wellbeing. This means that you should continue taking care of your health, watch what you eat, exercise, and more.

This is because getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet may make it easier for you to handle stress as well as any other emotional or physical issues that are commonly associated with recovery from substance use disorders and addictions.

3. Contribute

The sober living home may also require that you play a part in contributing to the overall wellbeing of the community. This means that you should not slack off on chores or refuse to remain productive in contributing to the community. This will only create hostility and resentment among your fellow residents. In fact, those who refuse to contribute on a continuous basis may be asked to leave the facility.

4. Perform Daily Chores

You should also expect to perform some daily chores. In most cases, the community will assign appropriate chores to everyone in the facility. You can easily perform these chores before you leave for the day or after you return from work.

5. Form Support Groups

To ensure that you remain sober and clean, you may need some level of peer support. Therefore, you may want to make a conscious effort to form new healthy relationships, which may include establishing meaningful friendships with your fellow housemates, as well as with any other individuals you may encounter within the community.

6. Participate

Last but not least, you should keep in mind that your stay at a sober living home will not be of any benefit if you do not make an effort to continue participating in the set activities and arranged programs. Therefore, you may want to take full advantage of everything that the facility has to offer - such as the insight that other residents and the professionals there may share with you.


1. Expect Too Much of Others

While you are at a sober living home, you should not expect someone else to do everything on your behalf. This is because such facilities are not resorts or hotels. Although some of the homes may have hired someone to help with cleaning and cooking, in most cases you will find that residents will be required (and even encouraged) to be active participants who contribute towards the upkeep of the home.

2. Fight

Fighting - in one way or the other - with fellow residents or with the staff will typically be universally prohibited. Such fighting extends to all types of violent behavior of violence towards the staff members and the residents. It also extends to showing disrespect or being disrespectful of other's personal recovery process or personal space.

3. Get Romantically Involved

It is also prohibited to get romantically involved with fellow residents at a sober living home. Most of the facilities prohibit such romantic liaisons, even in gender specific programs.

This is particularly true of such relationships with the staff members or with any of the professionals who may visit the home to help the residents in their journey to recovery. This is because relationships may interfere with the recovery and sobriety of those involved, or with others who observe such liaisons.

4. Hold Back

In case of any concerns, you should never hold back. Group meetings are typically part of the routine at these facilities. Therefore, during your daily meetings, you will get the opportunity to discuss any issues and address all concerns that you have about the facility, the professionals working there, or to the group.

In case you have concerns about your treatment, however, it would be better if you spoke one on one to your therapist or to the case manager.

5. Make Excuses

It is not predetermined that you will fail when you decide to check into a sober living facility. Therefore, you should remain positive during your stay and ensure that you never fall back on any excuses why you failed in your recovery journey. Similarly, you need to ensure that you do not automatically assume that you won't success before you make a conscious effort to do so.

At the end of the day, you should keep in mind that the rules at sober living facilities vary from one home to the next. However, there are some guidelines that are common to all of these spaces - particularly the rule about not fighting as well as the requirement that you continue contributing and participating.

As a resident, you must agree that you are going to follow all the rules before you move into the home. In the same way, if you violate any of these rules, you may be required to make amends to the staff members or residents involved, or to perform some extra chores. On the other hand, if your violation is repetitive or serious, you may be asked to leave.

Tips For Successful Recovery After Sober Living

The main purpose of checking into and spending time in a sober living home is to ensure that you incrementally continue relearning the tenets of sober independence. Your stay may also serve to lay the foundation that will ensure your recovery long after you leave the facility.

To this end, getting a point where you are sober and clean would be an accomplishment of great note. This means that you should be proud of every success you have during your stay.

Eventually, you may get to a point where you have formed a strong enough support system and formed new friends. At this point, you should keep in mind that you are entirely responsible for all your actions, as well as the rewards or the consequences of such actions.

Some of the tips that may ensure your successful recovery during and after your stay at a sober living facility include, but are not limited to:

a) Establish Support and Friendships

At the beginning of you stay - immediately after you check into a sober living home - you should start small with establishing support and friendships. Eventually, you may develop a large support group.

However, your primary concern when you are new at a facility should be on maintaining friendships and relationships with people you can easily trust. As you continue forming the new friendships, you will most likely end up encountering others who are of the same mind. These individuals will eventually become part and parcel of your support group, but you should take it slow at first.

b) Re-Establish Former Healthy Relationships

During the time when you were struggling with substance use disorder, co-occurring disorders, and dependency, and addiction, you probably damaged some of the healthy relationships you used to have.

After rehabilitation, it might be difficult for you to mend these relationships - although this is not entirely impossible. Therefore, you should make conscious efforts to start establishing contact with those who matter to you. See if they are still willing to work on the issues that you had when you were an addict, and if they want to remain a part of your life.

Begin the process by making a quick phone call every once in a while. If possible, you can also set up face to face meetings where you can talk with them, apologize for the wrongs and hurt you caused, and try to see if you can rework your way back into the relationship.

However, if the relationship is beyond repair - or if the person is not yet ready to come back into your life - you should just accept the fact, and move on with your recovery and life.

c) Give Back

Last but not least, even as you continue your stay in a sober living home, you should make some time to give back. At some point, you will get to a state where you need to give back to others.

At this juncture, you should think about becoming involved with local charities and organizations. This might provide you with an added incentive to move forward with recovery, remain sober and clean, and focus on the needs of others and not just those that you have.

d) Others

Other tips to keep in mind during your stay at a sober living facility include:

So, there you have it - the ultimate guide to sober living, and sober living homes. As long as you are able to find an appropriate facility where you feel welcome, included, and part of an intimate community, you should easily be able to move on from full rehabilitation to eventual recovery and life-long sobriety.

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