Long-term recovery outcomes are better for people who choose to live in a safe, sober and structured environment. But what really is “sober living,” and how might it aid in your recovery? This page will provide a general overview, including answers to commonly asked questions.
What Is “Sober Living”?
“Sober living” in its most basic sense refers to a drug-and-alcohol-free lifestyle. It also can refer to a drug-and-alcohol-free living environment that supports sober living. Usually, the goal of sober living is to achieve successful, long-term recovery from a substance addiction.
What Is a “Sober Living Home”?
A “sober living home” is a drug-and-alcohol-free residence for people who have completed inpatient treatment and are looking for an added layer of support as they transition back into their real-world responsibilities. In order to live in a sober living home, residents typically must abide by certain community rules and responsibilities. They can also receive further training and development in sober skills that build on what they learned in rehab and provide a stronger foundation for sobriety moving forward.
How a Sober Living Residence Can Aid Recovery
Risks of relapse are highest during the first year of recovery when sobriety is new and can be quite fragile—especially during the first 90 days of sobriety. This is where aftercare supports like sober living residences can be especially helpful. Research shows they can lower the risks of relapse.
Why are the risks of relapsing highest during the first year of recovery? That is when drug or alcohol cravings are strongest. These cravings are more likely to lead to relapse when there are “cues” in a person’s living environment that encourage them to drink or use drugs. In other words, where a person lives can exert a very big influence on their level of exposure to old addiction triggers and cravings and whether they respond to these things in a healthy or unhealthy way.
Not surprisingly, many people do better in a structured sober environment that removes the triggers and temptations that they associate with a substance abuse problem. Similarly, many people coming out of rehab benefit from opportunities to practice and apply the new life skills and tools from treatment to real life; and their participation in a sober living community supports the healthy choices and responses to cravings that are foundational to the success of their recovery.
Sober living residences provide a way for those that have recently completed drug or alcohol rehab to re-enter society gradually, with some assisting handrails and supports. A sober living environment provides residents with a focus on sobriety and a structure that supports this focus, as well as an opportunity to apply sober skills learned in treatment to real-life situations. Sober living homes can provide the motivation, support, and skill development needed for long-term recovery.
What to Expect in a Sober Living Home
Many people want to know what a sober living home is like. Not every sober living home is exactly the same of course. Each home may have its own rules and ways of operating. Generally, though, these are some of the things to expect:
Developing sober life skills is a big part of the sober living experience. Those new to sobriety learn how to implement the tools and strategies they’ve acquired in treatment in their daily lives and as they reintegrate into society. Some examples of the sober skills that residents develop include:
- Proper etiquette and social interaction skills
- Responsibility and accountability skill
- Nutrition and meal planning skill
- Finance and budget planning skill
- Career planning and employment skill
Sober Home Rules
Each sober living setting will have a set of rules that residents must adhere to in order to live there. When a resident does not comply with the rules, they may be asked to leave the program. Examples of these rules might include (but are not limited to):
- Maintaining sobriety
- Household chores
- Refraining from violent and inappropriate behavior
- Working a program of recovery
Sober Living and Relapse Prevention
Sober Living Skills and Services at FHE Health
At FHE Health, we understand the need for support in the early days of recovery and have provided anything and everything we can to help our patients maximize their prospects of a successful, long-term recovery. Here are some of the ways that we strive for the same level of excellence in the sober living skills and services that we provide in our treatment programs:
- Spiritual Connection – A personal spirituality for recovery can provide more inner peace, comfort, resilience and a stronger foundation for sobriety.
- High Standards – One characteristic of any FHE treatment program is its high standard for life after rehab. Patients know they are both free and accountable to make healthy choices that support their long-term sobriety. They also leave armed with a personalized relapse prevention plan.
- Equipping Not Enabling – As we seek to provide residents with the skills and tools that they need to live a healthy and sober life, we are also very careful not to enable dysfunctional patterns of addiction. The #1 goal is a lifetime of permanent sobriety.
It’s common to think that addiction recovery is just about refraining from drugs and alcohol. While that’s important, most of the work of recovery (that makes sobriety possible) is about determining the underlying causes and emotions that feed an addiction. Living with others who are doing the same rewarding work can provide the added support and sense of safety that can help you weather the hardest days of recovery. In this sense, choosing to live in a sober living home while receiving treatment is one of the best investments in recovery that a person can make.