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How To Choose The Right Sober Living Home After Treatment

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

March 4, 2019

Locating the right sober living home after treatment can make transitioning out of rehab a rewarding and beneficial experience. However, individual preference, previous substance abuse type, associated costs, and other factors can play a large role in picking the best one.

More importantly, knowing which questions to ask can help preserve your recovery. You may wish to find out what sort of drug policies exist, or how a home would deal with someone who relapsed. Your safety or whether or not you can have your children with you in the home may be a high priority. Knowing how the home is managed may help you better understand whether or not the living environment will remain fairly free of stress so that you can focus on getting on with your life, and not with petty drama.

What Is A Sober Living Home?

A sober living home, also known as a halfway house, is a housing option for those who have recovered from drug, alcohol, or other forms of addiction. Most importantly, every resident has expressed a choice to remain sober and drug-free during their stay.

Sober living homes may be privately owned and managed or owned by a business or other organization. They are managed in a landlord-tenant fashion. Those who own and/or manage the homes often undergo training to better understand the legal framework and expectations of sober living house management.

Those who live in a sober living environment are expected to behave just as they would if they were living in their own home. They are responsible for their share of the rent and sometimes utility costs, their own food costs, and preparation, and are expected to share the burden of household cleaning. A sober living home is designed to transition someone from the care of a rehabilitation facility back into society, providing a built-in network of support in the form of roommates who typically understand or share the experience of addiction.

That said, not every person living in a sober living home has been through the same level of rehab. In some cases, a house may welcome individuals who have gone through drug detox and expressed a desire to remain sober.

How To Locate Sober Living Homes Near You

Locating sober living home options nearest you may be as simple as asking a counselor or other treatment professional for recommendations. Or a web search can also provide you with some statewide or regional options. Some homes may be rated or offer reviews from those who have lived there previously.

Because sober homes are often sponsored by different organizations or individuals, they will be marketed in different ways. Often times, your inpatient rehab or outpatient treatment program will have a list of recommended sober living options upon completion of their program. These recommendations could be local to the rehab facility, or may have many nationwide locations that are under the same organization.

It is not uncommon for religious groups such as churches and faith-based community centers to sponsor sober living homes as well. Your local church may be able to provide some sober living homes in your area.

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Choose The Right Sober Living Home For You

When choosing the right sober living home for you, consider your immediate needs. If you don’t have a car and rely on regular public transit or walking, be sure to locate a home within reach of work, food, and group or individual counseling or meetings. In some cases, someone leaving treatment may feel unsafe because of an unstable former partner or other person in their life. In those circumstances, a home that provides a strict curfew and additional security might be a high priority.

If you are newly leaving treatment, protecting your sobriety is of the utmost importance; good management of a household is a key element in that success. A home that quickly handles situations in which someone relapses, or one that is organized in such a way that no person is left with a greater burden, reduces stress and drama, some of the external factors that can trigger drug cravings.

Cost of living in the house is also important to understand. In addition to the rent, are you responsible for a share of the utilities, parking, or other fees? If so, find out what the general average cost of utilities is each month, so you have an accurate picture of what you will be required to pay.

Types Of Sober Living Homes

Every sober living home is different, which means you have many options when it comes to choosing a sober living option that fits your needs. Depending on the organization or individual sponsoring the home, each home may have a different set of rules and guidelines to live by. These guidelines are set in place to help keep the home a safe and healing environment for its residents.

Commonly, sober living homes may be dedicated to a specific gender. These gender-specific sober living homes are intended to relieve temptations and other triggers so you are able to focus on your recovery. All-male or all-female homes allow residents to feel more comfortable when expressing their emotions or feelings regarding their addiction. These homes are also designed to create a feeling of comradery to provide more support on your toughest days.

Sober living homes that are sponsored by a church or religious organization will likely promote a spiritual aspect when it comes to your recovery. These types of homes can be comforting if you are religious yourself, or see your recovery as a spiritual healing process. These homes may offer very affordable rates in exchange for your service to keep up the home and grounds, or volunteer opportunities within their organizations.

Sober living homes may offer shared rooms or private rooms, depending on what your budget is. Shared rooms is a great way to still participate in the supportive environment of a sober living home at half the cost. While some adults may feel hesitant at the thought of sharing a room with another adult, many residents have reported positive outcomes from sharing a room. Always remember that this setup is not permanent, and every step of this process is helping your recovery.

Questions To Consider When Choosing A Sober Living Home

  • Are you committed to recovery?
    • Have you decided that living a sober, drug-free life is the most important thing in your life right now? Sober living homes are the next step in many client’s’ journey to recovery. It is important that everyone in the home shares this commitment so all residents are able to successfully continue along their road to recovery.
  • Do you prefer gender-specific housing?
    • Studies show that gender-specific housing tends to promote a more open environment for residents to express their emotions and feelings. Residing in an all-male or all-female home may also help you to focus more on your recovery by removing any temptations or stress that can distract you. When considering gender-specific housing, try to think of who you will be most comfortable with on your toughest days.
  • Do you have children who will also need housing with you?
    • There are many family or couple specific sober living options out there. Choose a home that you believe is fully dedicated to its residents following specific rules that will keep your children safe. Alternatively, if you believe that residing in a home that also allows children will distract you from your recovery, it is important you ask what their policy on children is.
  • Do you wish to be surrounded by those recovering from a similar addiction type?
    • Addiction specific homes are not as common as gender or family specific homes, but they do exist. If you believe that being surrounded by individuals that understand your addiction specifically is important to your recovery, start reaching out to homes in the area that may be able to connect you. If you are unable to find a home that is dedicated to your addiction specifically, ask if any of the homes have current residents that suffer from your addiction. Even if the home is not addiction specific, it is possible to find your own small group within a sober living home environment.
  • How near is the home to work, family, support groups, counseling, etc.
    • Remember that this step on your journey to recovery should come at a time when you are getting back to your normal routine. Just as you would seek out a home to purchase or rent that is close to work, family, and other important components of your life, you will want to find a sober living home that allows you to move forward with the aspects of your life that you find important.
  • Do you need access to public transportation?
    • If you do not have a car, you will want to make sure you have a plan for getting to work, school, church, etc. from your sober living house. Many sober homes have some options that are already set up, as it is not uncommon for residents to lack a reliable form of transportation. Whether this is a public bus or paying another resident to take you to work 5 days a week, you will want to make sure this plan is in place before you being living in the home.
  • Are you seeking a house with strict rules about drugs or alcohol?
    • Only you can identify what you truly need to be successful in your recovery. If you believe a home that upholds very strict and specific rules about drugs or alcohol, a zero tolerance policy for example, then seeking out a home that enforces these rules may be the best fit for you. Do not be afraid to ask questions regarding the actions a home will take if a resident breaks these rules.
  • If you are concerned about your safety, what kind of security measures are in place?
    • Especially if you will be residing with children or in a co-ed sober living home, it is important to keep your safety in mind. Never hesitate to ask a home what measures they take to keep you and the other residents safe. Ask about things such as door locks on private rooms, camera surveillance for the grounds, and any safes available for valuable personal belongings. These questions can help you evaluate the safety of the home you are looking into.
  • Does the home have a curfew or other policies that might interfere with work or other practices?
    • While keeping your recovery front and center in your life may be a top priority, it is also important to continue living your life. With that in mind, you want to make sure any living arrangement you participate in will work with your work and social schedules as well. Make sure you have a plan in mind before calling around to different sober living homes to ensure that any schedule they have will also work with yours.
  • How is the household managed?
    • It is always important to understand what kind of living arrangement you are walking in to. There are some sober living homes that are more upscale, with a professional cleaning and cooking crew to care for the residents. These homes are often pricier than most. Other options may be homes that offer a lower monthly cost in exchange for work done around the house and grounds. If it is important to you that you do your own cooking and cleaning, then one of these homes may fit your needs well. For many residents, just the act of staying busy can help get them through a trying day.

Apart from asking these questions of yourself and of the house management, if possible, ask other people who have either previously lived in the house or currently live there. This will help you get a clearer picture of whether or not the impact of living within the household has an overall positive or negative impact on those living there.

Benefits Of A Sober Living Home

A sober living home is really a sober living environment in which you have time to become acquainted with life outside of drug or alcohol use. It is also a form of group support in the form of roommates with a similar vested interest in remaining drug- and alcohol-free. The benefits of a sober living home include the broadening of your social network and provides an understanding environment in which you can openly talk about your past drug use without feeling judged, all while becoming acquainted with a new pattern of living that does not involve the pitfalls of addiction.

Choosing the right sober living home can also provide you with a support network for life. Surrounding yourself with other people who understand what you’re going through can help immensely with your recovery. It is not uncommon for residents to establish close bonds with the people they live with, continuing the friendship even after their time in sober living. The right sober living home can improve your recovery success.

If You Need Help Overcoming Addiction

RehabCenter.net is your online resource for the professional support and compassionate, evidence-based drug or alcohol treatment to meet your individual needs. Contact us today and locate a comprehensive treatment plan that will lead you out of addiction and on to a new and rewarding journey in recovery.

Louisville, KY Sober Housing (types of housing, cost, admission stats) - Louisville Housing

NCBI - What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go from Here?

PubMed via NCBI - Sober Living Houses For Alcohol And Drug Dependence

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