The concept of a sober living home originated in California, and the amount of options and locations which are available in other states have continued to grow since that time. The justification behind the existence of this type of support involves the idea that environmental exposure and social connection are leading factors in success – or failure – when it comes to maintaining sobriety. A sober living environment (SLE) provides a space for the person in recovery to experience intensive social support toward reaching goals of sobriety, while simultaneously being separated from the stressors which exist in the location where the drugs or alcohol were being abused. It is a place to form new, healthier, relationships, and to establish more productive daily habits.
Sober living homes are usually a second – or third – stop on the way to maintaining sobriety. For some, their stay will begin following a period of receiving medical detox at an intensive inpatient facility. This process can require up to 10 days, depending on the drugs that are influencing the body at the time of entering treatment. For others, their stay in an SLE will begin following participation in a residential treatment program. This intensive form of treatment can last from a month to half of a year, and involves mandatory participation in several daily groups and therapy sessions. Many residential treatment programs have strict rules to follow, including participation in regular drug testing.
For best chance of lasting results, the National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends that most participants spend at least three months in a rehabilitation, with many needing the support of an active treatment team for several months beyond that. For those who are not able to afford the time or costs of staying with an intensive treatment program for that length of time, sober living homes can provide a buffer between exiting a rehab program and going solo.
Unlike with a treatment program, a sober living environment assumes that a recovering person is in a place where his or her sobriety is driving the desire to be there. The focus shifts from being centralized on escaping the drug toward one of making it as easy as possible to maintain existing sobriety. These facilities offer more personal freedom, and put more emphasis on a person developing the life skills necessary to continue to move forward. While some groups and meetings are typically still required of a resident, there is also opportunity to improve life through attending school or looking for employment.
Available Program Length
Most sober living environments will be open to a person in recovery for as long as the person is benefiting from being there. Before leaving, a person will want to ensure that both physical and psychological needs will be cared for. This means making sure that feelings and mindset are in a good place, that there is a healthy home environment to return to, and that social support will be continued after leaving the SLE. It will be extremely helpful to have used your time in the environment to form both short term and long term goals for maintaining your sobriety and continuing to build a life which you are proud of. You will also want to ensure that you have stayed long enough to have satisfied any legal or court-ordered treatment orders.
Benefits of Staying Longer
In general, the idea is that the longer you can maintain your sobriety, the less chance you have of relapsing. Statistically, the chance of relapsing after a period of five years sober is only 15 percent. This is in contrast to the success rate of a person who has only claimed one year of sobriety, and whose chance of relapse hovers around 50%. With this pattern in mind, deciding to stay longer in a sober living environment may be what is needed to achieve the long haul of sustained sobriety. The peaceful setting, reduction of life stressors, and provided social support can allow you to really cement those mental concepts which will guide you toward maintaining sobriety for years to come.
Do What Is Right For You
When it comes down to it, your needs for support in maintaining your sobriety are entirely unique. While some may experience a benefit from maintaining a full regimen of sobriety-focused treatment for many years, others may believe that they have received enough support to go on with their lives after only a few weeks. The main factor in maintaining sobriety is the internal desire to keep moving forward in life.
Some reports about recent addiction studies are indicating that up to 70% of people who recognize an addictive pattern in their lives are able to cease the behavior on their own. This flies in the face of conventional approaches, which have typically propagated the “once an addict, always an addict” idea. The progress being made in the collection of scientific data toward finding what really works for people who are escaping addiction means that there is less chance of being pushed into a treatment regimen which does not fit your particular needs or personality bend. When it comes to determining your length of stay in a sober living environment, be sure to practice your own logical thinking and assertive communication skills, and don’t let others decide your best course of action for you.
Relapse and Readmittance
If you do decide to leave your sober living home against the advice of those involved, check with your treatment team to find out the possibility of being readmitted, if needed. The rates of relapse in addiction are very high, and the rates for those who do not stay long enough in treatment are even higher. Around half of all of those who embark on the road to recovery through receiving specialized treatment will find themselves in need of another intervention within the first year. While many sober living homes are quite strict about not allowing an active user to participate in the program, they are generally quite compassionate when it comes to giving second – and even third – chances.