Addiction treatment has evolved over the years to grow and encompass an ever-increasing number of circumstances, factors, situations and needs. Addiction is not a disease that has a one-size-fits-all cure, and treatment methods have popped up to accommodate the varying needs across all patient types.
From people seeking a dedicated facility to attend treatment to those who need help while keeping their jobs and living with their families, addiction treatment had to be made flexible to adapt.
Since then, there has been a continuous trend of many people seeking options outside of residential/inpatient treatment, either to continue their recovery through outside means, or to find an option between inpatient and outpatient treatment, to eliminate the major difference that temptation offers.
Many treatment facilities work hard with clients to give them an environment conducive to supporting their sobriety. However, the transition from that environment back into real life can be jarring. Other treatment methods allow patients to visit on a regular schedule, while giving them the opportunity to live their lives. But this carries the risk of higher relapse rates, as patients must have the self-discipline to religiously follow their schedule, and the strength to resist drug cravings even at higher stress levels.
Sober living housing provides a grey between the black and white – a form of treatment that keeps tenants away from any temptation and in the company of fellow recovering tenants, while staying true to the responsibilities and challenges of life outside treatment.
What Is Sober Living?
In this context, sober living is a modality rather than a lifestyle. The end goal for any addiction treatment is to make the sober lifestyle a reality – but sober living specifically refers to a facility or setting wherein clients become tenants of a building or community, live according to a few set rules, and are encouraged to engage in community activities while tending to personal hobbies and obligations.
All tenants typically must be in school or have a job, or must actively look for either, and must regularly help with chores. There are curfews, mandatory meetings, and other standards, such as a zero-tolerance policy to bringing or using drugs in the facility, and regular drug testing. Different facilities use different methods and offer different extras – in some cases, rooms are shared, or tenants have separate facilities.
While most sober living communities are gender-specific, some are coed. Men’s and woman’s sober living allows participants to undergo their recovery in a comfortable environment. Prices are usually monthly, in the form of rent and other expenses, and most stay for about six months at a time. However, unlike some other forms of treatment, there is no set limit. Sober living communities encourage tenants to stay as long as they need to.
Sober living always implies an environment that is drug-free and built to encourage regular day-to-day living. The emphasis is less on regimented, dedicated treatment, and more on providing the perfect environment conducive to a healthy and sober lifestyle. While this allows tenants to get used to living in sobriety before transitioning into the outside world, that transition still must take place.
How A Sober Community Can Complete Your Recovery
Sobriety is the state of not being intoxicated. To be sober, you must not use drugs. In the case of addiction, not using drugs can at first seem like an impossible task – addiction is a disease that temporarily rewires the brain to crave nothing but drugs, prioritizing them over almost anything else.
But with time, your mind returns to thinking about things normally, processing life in a way that allows you to forcibly and consciously put your previous thoughts on the backburner, forever. Yet sometimes – especially in times of severe pressure, stress, or loss – the urge to use can come back in full force. It is times like this when not using becomes very, very difficult for many, as it seems like an immediate and simple solution to the problem at hand: pain.
The long-term consequences, as obvious as they might be to someone with a clear mind, become less clear when the mind is preoccupied with whatever caused the stress.
That is why recovery is a journey best had with other people. While everyone does ultimately have to make their own choices and dedicate themselves to their own sobriety, being among others and making social contact while you are in recovery can have enormous benefit. Research shows that the social factor in recovery plays an important role, as social support heavily discourages relapses. The idea is simple: when you have friends around during recovery, you are much more likely to rely on them for support, than the artificial high of a drug.
Sober living houses encourage the building and nurturing of a community more than almost any modality in addiction treatment. Through a sober living environment, you spend every day in a tightly-knit community, encouraged not only to live among and alongside other recovering addicts, but encouraged to regularly attend meetings and events that help foster a greater understanding of addiction and one another.
These relationships are not just vital to making life fun in the sober living facility, but they are vital to continuing to stay sober in the outside world. Life can be a bit much at times, but by relying on each other, we can continue to fight on even in the bleakest of times.
Learning How To Cope Through (And After) Sober Living
Sober living is about more than staying away from drugs. It is about finding ways to enjoy life for what it is, while taking care of responsibilities and obligations. People in sober living programs are encouraged to work/study, contribute to the community, and participate. In many ways, it helps people readjust to living life alongside others outside of any treatment setting, making the transition that much easier.
However, to successfully transition into real life after a sober living program, the most important thing is to understand the clear differences between the two: that is, the importance of self-reliance and community.
Sober living programs come with curfews, schedules, and requirements. In real life, you must set your own standards and live by them. By setting standards and goals for yourself, you can continue to uphold a balanced and healthy life and maintain your sobriety – even through difficult times. Sober living gives you the time to explore your triggers and build the right coping mechanisms to stay away from relapse – as well as know who to call when you feel trapped and tempted, and who to go to when you cannot be on your own.
Sober living facilities come with the benefit of staying clean by force – there are no temptations, no drugs to abuse. But ideally, a sober living setting will prepare you for a world with all these dangers and temptations, by giving you the toolset you need to steer clear of them even when the cravings are at their strongest, using rational thought and the support of your friends and family.