All sober living homes are designed to provide people with a sober environment in which to live. Here, people who have experienced difficulties with substance use and abuse in the past can continue to heal without being subjected to the constant pressure that the wider world might place upon them. While this mission might remain constant for all facilities that offer sober living, the ways in which these programs operate and the people they’re designed to serve can be quite different. These are just a few of the facilities that might fall under the sober living umbrella, along with a brief description of how each type of facility tends to operate.
12-Step Sober Living
This kind of facility often springs to mind when people discuss the sober living concept. Here, people who are in the midst of a recovery from an addiction issue have the opportunity to live with others who are also in recovery. The house is run democratically, meaning that the leadership of the house is usually undertaken by a resident of that home. There are no counselors or treatment professionals on site who can assist with the treatment process.
The 12-step recovery model espoused by Alcoholics Anonymous is quite important to those who live within a sober living home like this. Residents are often required to attend meetings, either in the residence or in the community, and they may be required to provide proof that they have done so. This could be vital to the recovery process for some people with addictions, as a study in the journal Psychiatric Services suggests that only 25 percent of addicted people who are referred to meetings like this actually attend on a regular basis. Even though experts suggest that support groups can be powerful in the fight against addiction, many people choose not to participate. Mandatory meetings might make this less likely.
In homes like this, people can stay as long as they feel comfortable doing so. They may not be required to live in the facility, and they may not need to provide proof of their residence to any outside authority, but they may choose to stay for months. Here, they have the opportunity to make new habits and new friends, and this could be an opportunity that’s too valuable to miss.
Sober Living Apartments
Unlike sober living homes, which might ask clients to share kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms, sober living apartments provide residents with a bit more privacy. They may be required to share a unit with another resident, but they may also be allowed to keep their own kitchen and they may have access to their own living areas. Even so, they might still be required to submit to periodic urine tests for drugs, and they might also be asked to submit to periodic searches of their living quarters, just to ensure that no illicit substances are present. They might also be required to provide proof that they are:
- Attending counseling
- Participating in support group meetings
- Taking medications
For some, this is an appropriate step down from the supervision provided in a traditional 12-step sober living home. In an apartment, they have a little more freedom, but unlike a standard apartment, a sober living apartment still comes with rules. This could be important to the recovery process for some people.
While some people need help with sober living so they can enter the workforce, some need help in order to complete their education. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about four in five college students drink alcohol, meaning that it might be difficult for people in recovery to find campus housing that isn’t awash in booze. Drugs might also be a problem on college campuses. A sober dorm may help, as these facilities provide an environment that’s free of alcohol and drugs.
Often, these facilities don’t provide urine testing for residents. Doing so might violate the rules of the college or university, and some students might be inclined to entertain expensive lawsuits if they were caught out with illicit substances. Instead, these facilities might rely on peers to enforce the rule of the facility. Drunken students might be confronted by their peers, for example, while drugs found in a room might quickly be brought to the attention of the program administrators. Facilities like this might also neglect to provide counseling assistance, but they often provide an in-depth catalogue of support group meetings, counselors and other resources residents can use if they find the concept of sobriety to be onerous. In return for this lack, facilities might provide their residents with social opportunities, allowing them to have fun with college life without relying on substances of abuse.
While people who are incarcerated might also need assistance with education and employment, they might be required to finish out their sentences under the supervision of the state. A halfway housecan allow people like this to make the transition from incarceration to freedom, without allowing them to lapse back into the behaviors that led to the original arrest.
Addiction is relatively common among people who are incarcerated, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, as 1.5 million of the 2.3 million people in American prisons and jails meet medical criteria for either substance abuse or addiction. In some cases, people are provided with addiction treatments while they’re behind bars, but they need touch-up therapy and a sober environment in order to continue to live a sober life. In other cases, people didn’t obtain help in prison, and they might feel an overwhelming need to use when they’re provided with a modicum of freedom. People in both these groups might also need help with employment and education, so they can live independently without returning to a life of crime.
A halfway house provides a sober environment for people in the criminal justice system, and these programs also provide clients with counseling for addictions, mental illnesses or both. In addition, clients are expected to obtain employment and otherwise improve their lives. Refusing to do so could be grounds for readmission to prison.
Facilities that provide transitional housing are sometimes placed under the sober living home category, as these facilities provide a clean and sober environment for all residents who live within the walls of the facility, but the care provided in this kind of facility is a little different than the care provided in other places that might also be called sober living homes. The reason for these differences has to do with the type of people who are referred to programs like this.
A transitional housing program is designed to assist people who have become homeless, regardless of the reason for that homelessness. Breaking this cycle can be difficult for people to do on their own, as a study in the Policy Studies Journal suggests, as people who don’t obtain employment, housing and a strong core of social support tend to fall right back into the patterns that once led to homelessness.
A transitional housing program may help to break that cycle by providing people with:
- A low-cost, or no-cost, place to live
- Access to community programs regarding education, employment and more
- Social skills training
- Sober surroundings
- Support group meetings
Some sober living homes cater to a specific segment of the population. Some are designed for people who have small children, for example, while others are designed for busy executives. Some accept only women, while others accept only men. Some are designed to house people in the LGBT community, while others cater to people of a certain religious background. Still others are designed to appeal to members of a specific cultural, age or economic group.
On the surface, these amendments can seem a little silly. After all, people who are addicted have one major attribute in common: their addictions. Any other life factor might seem to pale in importance, when there’s such an important aspect of life that draws people like this together.
Even so, there are good reasons for customizing care based on these factors. For example, many of these homes accept residents on a voluntary basis. They can come in and leave anytime they’d like to do so, with no questions asked. If the surroundings aren’t comfortable, some people might just drop out and return to their old lives, regardless of the consequences. Similarly, people in these programs are asked to help one another and work with one another. They should function like a cohesive family unit, if the care is to be effective. People of very different backgrounds may find this kind of rapport difficult, if not impossible, so customization might be key to a program’s success.
Most communities have a plethora of sober living homes available, and it can be difficult for families to find a home that suits their needs. For some, this choice isn’t even available, as they’re required to go to specific places based on the recommendation from their superiors or parole officers. No matter what situation you or your family might be in, we’d like to help. Foundations Recovery Network facilities emphasize healing across the lifespan, and we have several facilities that provide robust sober living options. If you’d like to know more about our programs, just so you’ll know more about how aftercare works, please call us. If you do decide to work with us, we can even get the enrollment process started. Just call to find out more.