Many of those who begin to get treatment for addiction are in dire situations. They often have little money, no housing, and a peer group still involved in drug use. A research study done 2011 found that sober living homes are an effective means for achieving sobriety when certain factors are in place.
The study found that for 300 individuals a sober living home was an effective option for those in need of alcohol-free and drug-free housing. When individuals were involved in 12-step programs, had a strong network of support and were living in a drug free environment, they tended to reach sobriety with few or no relapses. The study reaffirmed the importance of social and environmental factors in recovery.
In the lives of participants of the study, improvements were seen in the areas of alcohol and drug use, arrests, psychiatric symptoms and employment. It was clear from the study that there are certain factors that predict better recovery outcomes, such as high involvement in 12-step meetings, little alcohol and drug use among peers, and a low severity level for any presenting mental illnesses. The study also found that for those who were referred to sober living homes from the criminal justice system, they experienced similar outcomes when these same factors were present. However, they had a harder time finding and keeping work and had higher re-arrest rates.
Of course, sober living homes are effective for almost any kind of addiction. There are some that focus on certain types, such as alcohol only. And there are others that focus on illicit drugs, from cocaine to marijuana to heroin. And others focus on process or behavioral addictions only such as gambling or sexual addictions.
Sober living homes are effective for an individual in the recovery process no matter their age. It’s not only those who are in their 40’s and 50’s who can achieve sober living, but also those in their late teens and early 20’s. In the case of marijuana, research indicates that the earlier a person begins to use the drug, the more likely he or she will become dependent on it. Also, dependency will develop within two years for 17% of those who began smoking marijuana at ages 14 or 15. For young adults who have chosen to seek sobriety, this research adds to the necessity of having transitional housing that facilitates their move back home.
In addition to having friends that use drugs and drink, one of the reasons why it’s hard to stay sober today is because of the news about drug use everywhere. Particularly in recent months, news articles and television programs are highlighting heroin, which is becoming one of the most abused drugs in America. However, staying closely held within a 12-step community, for example, can be a shield against the temptation of return to friends who use marijuana or heroin or alcohol.
In fact, one of the services sometimes provided at sober living homes is motivational interviewing. It’s a form of therapy that seeks to evoke an intrinsic desire to change. It does this by exploring the ambivalence to changing behavior, given the pros and cons of using drugs. Exploring and resolving this ambivalence is the goal of this type of therapy. It does not use any coercive methods to change behavior or pressure that might induce feelings of guilt or shame. It simply and safely explores all the pros (such as healthier living and better relationships) and the cons (won’t have a coping mechanism to manage stress and missing the highs that come with getting drunk) to getting sober.
As an individual sorts out his or her ambivalence, he or she might eventually find that sobriety is the healthier choice. Then, when leaving a sober living facility he or she is armed with this inner choice as well as having experienced the safety of a drug free environment. Together, these two forms of protection can continue to create a sober life.
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